SD lawmakers discussing COVID-19 unemployment benefits, goals for next stimulus package

PIERRE, S.D. — Federal coronavirus unemployment benefits end on Friday, July 31 and Congress is at an impasse for another round to ease the pandemic’s pains.

After the house proposed a $1 trillion stimulus package, failing to gain Senate momentum, the Senate came back with their own proposal for a third of the cost.

Senator Mike Rounds says their key goals include: getting people back to work, getting kids safely back to school, preventing liability lawsuits related to COVID-19 for businesses, schools, and hospitals, and supporting agricultural producers; all while balancing the budget.

“The challenge is when it comes time to pay it back or when it comes to offset what those costs are while we may not pay it back,” Rounds said. “The next generation will, so we’ve got to always be aware of that.”

As Friday marks the end of the additional $600 in unemployment benefits, lawmakers are still working to find a middle ground on what jobless benefits should look like to get people back to work.

Representative Dusty Johnson says capping benefits at a percentage of someone’s wage is under consideration.

“That will make sure they have the money they need to pay their rent, buy food, but it’s also an opportunity to make even more money when they go back to work,” Johnson said.

According to Rounds, an across-the-board payment is more likely for those applying for unemployment due to states’ capabilities in processing a percentage of a paycheck.

“We’re not really hearing from states that they have the software and capabilities to make that work so I personally, I’d rather find an agreement on what the number is, whether its $200, $250, $275, to get additional funds,” said Rounds.

What has maintained consistently in each stimulus proposal is dollars allocated for a coronavirus vaccine.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News