• By The Financial District


President Donald Trump’s plan to offer a stripped-down boost in unemployment benefits to millions of Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak has found little traction among the states, which would have to pay a quarter of the cost to deliver the maximum benefit, Geoff Mulvihill wrote for the Associated Press (AP).

An AP survey finds that as of 17 states have said they will take the federal grants allowing them to increase unemployment checks by $300 or $400 a week. The AP tally shows that 32 states have said they’re still evaluating the offer or have not said whether they plan to accept the president’s slimmed-down benefits. 

Many governors say the costs to states to receive the bigger boost offered by Trump is more than their battered budgets can bear. They also say the federal government’s guidelines on how it will work are too murky. Pennyslvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called it a “convoluted, temporary, half-baked concept (that) has left many states, including Pennsylvania, with more questions.”

Most states expect to exhaust their funds and need federal loans to keep paying benefits during the recession. So far, 10 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have done so, including California, which has borrowed $8.6 billion. Another eight states have received authorization for loans but had not used them as of last week. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is among governors who are critical of Trump’s approach but decided to take the deal anyway. “As I say, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Newsom said last week.