Federal workers furloughed during the recent 16-day government will be required to pay back any unemployment benefits they received during the ordeal.
The Idaho Department of Labor’s communication director, Bob Fick, told IdahoReporter.com Tuesday that an expected ruling from the federal government will require the repayment of unemployment payments.
The federal government shut down for 16 days after Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a funding measure to pay for government services starting Oct. 1, 2014. As part of the deal to re-open the government, the two parties allowed for full back pay for furloughed workers.
Only 800,000 employees, or about 17 percent of the federal government’s workforce, were off for the 16-day period. The rest were declared “essential,” which allowed them to stay on the job.
Fick said that about 1,500 federal workers in Idaho were eligible for the unemployment payments, but only 465 received benefits. He did not say exactly how much the state paid to these workers, but did note that the weekly benefit “ranges from $72 to $357.”
Though many states will require repayment, a handful will not. Idaho’s neighbor to the west, Oregon, is one that will not.
According to the report, 1,300 federal workers in Oregon received payments totaling an estimated $680,000.
Critics called the double-dipping wasteful.
Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch unit, told the USA Today this week, "In terms of wasting taxpayer dollars, the idea of double paying anyone is distasteful." But she added, "In a period of extreme uncertainty for many Americans, this is an understandable side effect."