COVID-19 unemployment checks in jeopardy, Bay Area lawmaker works to supplement payments for Californians

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Millions of Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits when the “CARES” Act expires in just days.

A new proposal from Republican Senators would extend the benefit but cut the payment to just $200 a week, down from $600.

The additional $600 a week unemployment payments are set to expire on Friday, unless a deal is reached by lawmakers in Washington. 

“The last thing we should do is exacerbate that problem just because the feds won’t act,” Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-California, said. 

If the federal government doesn’t act, San Francisco Democrat State Assemblymember Phil Ting says he and his colleagues in the state legislature are putting together a plan of their own.

“We think we could potentially extend unemployment benefits at a state level,” Ting said. 

According to the outline for the California legislature’s joint economic stimulus plan, it would fill in the gaps in unemployment insurance. 

That would include undocumented workers. 

It would also cover any shortfalls if the federal government does not extend the $600 per week payment.

“We are also offering a program where you can pay taxes in the future and get the money today. We could use some of that to give more money to the California earned income tax credit. We could give more money to those who don’t qualify for SBA loans,” Ting said. 

He talks about how money from the unemployment checks not only helps families it also helps the local economy.

“The best way to help people right now is to put money in their pocket because they’re spending that on rent. They’re spending it on food. They’re spending it on critical services. They’re not pocketing the money,” Ting said. 

GOP Senators are proposing the “HEALS” Act.

It would slash the unemployment benefit to $200 as an incentive to push people back to work.

“What if they don’t have a job to go to? We’re asking so many businesses to not operate, that I don’t think it’s fair to have that money tied to a job when we’re telling the business to not operate,” Ting said. 

Assemblymember Ting is the chair of the assembly budget committee. 

He says several proposals are currently in bills working their way through the legislative process.

“Some of the package we think we can get done by August 31st. Some of the package may have to wait until January,” Ting said. 

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