Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said action by Congress this week to extend federal unemployment benefits could turn the program into an open-ended federal entitlement, but said the 11,500 Idahoans eligible for weekly payments should get that help.
“We won’t let those who are unable to find work through no fault of their own suffer, but Congress would do well to listen to the Idaho delegation’s legitimate concerns about spending money they don’t have,” Otter said in an Idaho Department of Labor news release.
The extended federal unemployment benefits, originally part of the 2009 stimulus plan, expired at the end of May. The labor department said its payout to jobless Idahoans dropped up to $4 million a week because of the federal program lapsed.
Close to 43,000 people received payments in May, before the extended program expired. That number dropped to less than 27,000 last week.
Any unemployed Idahoan who was eligible to receive payments during the six-week lapse should receive that money from the state labor department eventually. The department said it could take a week to reprogram 30-year-old computers and several more days to identify all the people who should receive payments. The department is asking those people not to call in to request their payments, because it could swamp their phone system.