Additional federal lost wages assistance may be coming, despite Gov. JB Pritkzer's concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Additional federal assistance for Illinoisans who lost their jobs, and wages, due to COVID-19 may be coming to residents soon, despite misgivings from the governor.

Governor JB Pritzker submitted the state's application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the federal program Lost Wage Assistance Funds on Monday. Those eligible will receive an additional $300 per week to their current unemployment benefits.

However, the governor has serious concerns about the program.

"President Trump's program will likely cut off the most vulnerable workers, create needless competition among the states for these limited FEMA dollars, and sow more confusion among the unemployed, so I want to caution that those eligible for these dollars will likely encounter frustration and unfairness brought on by the President's short-sighted and short lived program," said Gov. JB Pritzker in a statement.

The governor said the funds for the program can only be made available by diverting FEMA disaster relief funding, which he called "a highly unusual and concerning method of supplementing state unemployment systems." As a result, he said, states will be left competing for limited money with states that are in need of disaster assistance during major natural disasters.

The governor also said Trump's executive order does not explain how long the program will last, and said the program is unfair because claimants must earn more than $100 per week to qualify.

"However, the $300 benefit will provide much needed assistance for those who can get it, too many of whom are facing terrible choices about whether to pay their rent, buy groceries or get medicine. We will do everything in our power to make sure every eligible recipient can participate in this program," Pritzker said.
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