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Analysis: Trump's Delay In Signing COVID-19 Relief Bill Could Cost Arizonans Millions

Dave Wells
Dave Wells
Dave Wells, the Grand Canyon Institute's research director, says an analysis finds ethical issues with the new University of Arizona Global Campus.

UPDATE: According to a CNBC reportTuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor said it does not anticipate a lapse in benefits for those seeking unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.

President Donald Trump’s delay in signing the latest COVID-19 relief package could be costly — to the tune of tens of millions in lost unemployment assistance and economic activity. That’s according to a new analysis by the Grand Canyon Institute. Trump demanded larger COVID-relief checks and less “pork” spending, as two key federal relief programs briefly expired.

Dave Wells says that lapse, no matter how brief, will have a dire impact on unemployed Arizonans who relied on the additional assistance. Arizona has some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country, capped at just $240 a week.

Wells is research director for the Grand Canyon Institute, and The Show spoke with him more about this situation, beginning with the math. He says Arizona lost $80 million in direct unemployment assistance and $140 million in economic activity as a result of this lag in signing the bill. 

The Show also reached out to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) for comment.

Spokesman Brett Bezio said the department has been working through the holidays to understand the implications of the delay and ensure a minimal disruption to claimants.

“We recognize the need in our communities and will continue working with urgency to implement the provisions," Bezio said.

He also noted this benefit week was the last week authorized under the CARES Act, and DES will issue these payments as normal.

Full statement from DES:

The Department has been working throughout Christmas week, over the weekend, and into this week to make sure there are minimal disruptions to claimants based on the timing of passage and signing of the bill. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal partners to understand all of the implications of the bill and the impacts of the timing of the President’s signing, and we will implement as rapidly as possible once we receive federal guidance. We recognize the need in our communities and will continue working with urgency to implement the provisions.

This week, claimants are filing weekly certifications for benefit week ending December 26, 2020. This benefit week was the last week authorized under the CARES Act and DES will issue these payments as normal. We will continue to review and adjudicate all claims filed in prior weeks and issue payments to eligible claimants.

The first week allowable by law for the additional $300 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be payable for weekly certifications filed on or after January 3 for the benefit week ending January 2, 2021. DES continues to work urgently to provide this additional benefit to claimants as quickly as possible.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.