Some names added without permission in letter to Gov. Kelly asking to stop extra unemployment benefits

Unemployment Situation

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Businesses are claiming to the Kansas governor Wednesday that they can’t find workers because of extra money going into unemployment benefits, and they want her to end the bonus.

The group of businesses included GraceMed Health Clinic, GreatLife Golf & Fitness, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Gyroville Topeka and Kansas Farm Bureau to name a few. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly previously said she won’t end additional pandemic relief benefits going to unemployed Kansans, but also said the “final decision” hasn’t been made yet.

Auburn Washburn School District was also on the list, however, spokesperson Martin Weishaar told KSNT News the district wasn’t aware they were put on that letter until now. Additionally, the Greater Wichita YMCA and Hutchinson Public Library told Rep. Jason Probst, R-Hutchinson. Probst said they reached out to him saying they didn’t know how they ended up on the letter.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Vice-President of Communications at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said the Kansas chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management shared the letter and other Human Resource professionals shared the letter and gathered names. She said those names were all combined and sent to the Chamber to be added to the letter.

I assure you that every employer listed on the letter confirmed with their business organization that they wanted to be listed. The overwhelming support of the letter and the variety of Kansas employers listed are testaments to the lack of available workers in the state.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Vice-President of Communications at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce

In the letter, the businesses made their case that they were operating at a reduced capacity during the pandemic, but now can’t return to full operations because they can’t fill their jobs. Some Topeka businesses told KSNT News they’re seeing the same problem. The letter said there are more than 57,000 job openings in Kansas, and 58,468 people receiving unemployment benefits.

“Our coalition would respectfully ask that the state end the additional UI federal benefits. We believe this additional benefit was an important short-term solution to help individuals who were adversely impacted at the start of the pandemic. However, 13 months later, many employers are finding it nearly impossible to fully staff their business which impacts the supply chain and timely delivery of goods and services.”

181 Kansas businesses in a letter to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

The businesses did not just ask the governor to refuse the federal pandemic aid, but rather find a new use for it.

“We would advocate to redirect available federal dollars toward incentivizing return-to-work with a signing bonus program, temporary childcare assistance and training/retraining initiatives for Kansans who might have lost their jobs during the pandemic but have struggled to re-enter the workforce.”

181 Kansas businesses in a letter to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

The businesses cite Montana as an example for the employment bonus program. That state is offering a one-time $1,200 bonus for anyone who returns to work.

Read the full letter from the coalition of Kansas businesses below. The second and third pages show the full list of businesses who signed onto this letter:

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