Falmouth native wants Frankfort to focus on helping those in financial need during Covid-19
I’m very disheartened by the fact that our Governor and my fellow legislators feel this is a priority issue for Kentucky.
- Jobless claims as a percentage of the labor force is the highest in the country (43% of the workforce)
- KY ranks third in the nation in biggest increase in unemployment claims since the start of the COVID19 crisis, seeing a whopping 3969.78% increase. (Source: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-biggest-increase-in-unemployment-due-to-coronavirus/72730/)
- Beshear’s failure to ensure UI benefits are received will affect the most vulnerable groups in KY, especially lower-skilled workers, African-Americans, Latinos, single parents, and young adults (Source: https://mailchi.mp/georgetown/manufacturingstates-1276701?e=d8bb3316bb)
- More than 927,000 people have applied for benefits since March (with 2 million people in workforce, roughly 45% of the workforce has applied for benefits). More than 40,500 UI claims were filed in the first week of June. (Source: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2020/06/11/kentucky-unemployment-another-40-k-file-first-time/5340930002/)
- May claims: 295,576
- April claims: 428,616
- March 16-28: 162,172
- Feb 2020 UI rate was 4.2% (National average was 3.5%)
- March 2020 UI rate was 5.2% (National average was 4.4%)
- April UI 2020 rate skyrocketed to 15.4% (National average was 14.7%). In one month, KY went from 107,953 of the workforce being unemployed to 318,274 (Source: https://kystats.ky.gov/Content/Reports/202004_EmploymentEstimates.pdf?v=20200521020328)
- According to the administration, there are 14,000 unresolved claims from March and 40,000 from April. The UI office receives more than 200,000 calls a day and only has staff to handle 150,000.
- The KY UI fund was just starting to become solvent after repaying a federal loan from the 2008 recession. Now the fund is almost depleted again, which means KY may have to borrow more money from the fed to continue paying claims. In order to pay back the federal government, UI benefits will have to be cut and employer contributions will have to go up at a time when businesses and workers will already be struggling to recover from the devastating impact of the COVID19 crisis.
- As of January 2020, KY had about $619 million in the UI trust fund (Source: https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/docs/trustFundSolvReport2020.pdf)
- KY will have to borrow approximately $1.5 to $2 billion to cover future claims, which is much higher than the $972 million loan from the 2008 recession and took until 2015 to pay back. (See: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2020/05/18/coronavirus-pandemic-kentucky-likely-need-big-federal-loan-pay-unemployment-benefits/3116703001/)
- KY is already ranked eighth in states most dependent on the federal government, with 40.86% being the federal share of state government revenue. (Source: https://smartasset.com/taxes/states-most-dependent-on-the-federal-government-2020)
- KY is already potentially facing a $495.7 budget shortfall, according to the state budget director. (Source: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/ky-legislature/2020/04/30/covid-19-projected-cause-huge-kentucky-budget-shortfall/3055737001/)
Legislators are receiving hundreds of phone calls and emails from desperate Kentuckians everyday who don't know how they are going to buy groceries or pay their rent. Workers have spent hours waiting to speak with someone on the phone, only to be cut off without receiving any help.
Legislators are consistently trying to get information and answers for their constituents to no avail. The Governor and his administration refuse to talk to legislators and House and Senate leadership.
The issue with this statue is only a distraction from the real problems facing Kentucky: widespread unemployment, a steep budget shortfall, businesses unable to open, and our pension debt. These are the real issues facing Kentucky. If these issues are not resolved this state will go bankrupt.
The issue with the statue and other social issues need to be discussed and debated. They are real concerns for people, but, if this state fails financially then we will have much bigger problems on our hands than statues. Our Commonwealth is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the removal of statues should not be our focus at this time.
Representative Mark Hart