Gov. Kelly open to discussion with Kansas Chamber after letter dispute

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Gov. Laura Kelly responded to a disputed letter sent from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce this week.

The letter listed dozens of Kansas businesses, calling for an end to extensions in unemployment benefits, amid an ongoing debate over labor shortages in the state.

Kelly told KSNT’s Capitol Bureau on Friday that the state is open to discussing the situation further.

“Well, actually we have already responded, and we are inviting the Chamber and some of the business leaders to the table so that we can have a really in-depth discussion about the issues and see if we can come up with a solution that works for everybody,” Kelly said.

This comes after some businesses listed said they did not sign off on the letter.

The Auburn Washburn School District in Southwest Shawnee County was included on the list, however, spokesperson Martin Weishaar told KSNT News the district wasn’t aware they were put on that letter. Additionally, the Greater Wichita YMCA and Hutchinson Public Library spoke with Rep. Jason Probst. The Hutchinson Republican said they reached out to him saying they didn’t know how they ended up on the letter.

The Chamber released an updated letter Friday, with a revised list of businesses, accepting the governor’s invitation to meet, and discuss the best ways to help employers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“On behalf of the assigned coalition, we accept your invitation to meet to discuss the state ending its involvement in a federal program that provides supplemental unemployment benefits and other actions Kansas can take to get more workers back into the workforce”

Kansas Chamber of Commerce

The extension of federal programs has received pushback from some GOP leaders, wanting to end the programs early to address labor shortages.

Last week, Kelly said a final decision to keep the extensions in benefits has not been made.

To read the full letter from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, click here.

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