Auditor Galloway calls on Governor Parson to bypass statutory hurdles to get unemployment payments to displaced workers quickly

March 18, 2020

Columbia, Mo. — Auditor Galloway is calling on Governor Parson to develop and describe his plan for getting unemployment insurance payments to Missouri workers suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, Missouri lawmakers have made changes to the law to restrict unemployment compensation. President Trump and Congress are moving massive stimulus programs on a bipartisan basis, which includes significant increases in funds available to the states for unemployment insurance.

“Now that Washington is putting aside their partisan differences over fiscal stimulus, it is time for Missouri leaders to do the same,” said Galloway. “Missouri law has made it very difficult for workers to access unemployment benefits. President Trump and federal lawmakers from both parties have made it clear that they intend their Coronavirus stimulus to put money into the hands of working families during this national emergency. Governor Parson needs to reassure workers that they will be cared for throughout this pandemic.”

Lawmakers have changed Missouri statutes over the past decade to make it more difficult for displaced workers to access unemployment insurance payments. For instance, lawmakers have reduced the number of weeks workers are eligible to receive benefits and the types of workers who are eligible. Independent contractors, gig workers, and workers who have had hours reduced in lieu of being laid off need help now. United State Senators, led by Virginia Senator Mark Warner, delivered a letter to every Governor stating:

“(G)iven the severity of the crisis, we ask you to do whatever is possible to extend support to workers who do not fit into the usual framework of unemployment compensation. It is critical that there be no delay in using your existing authorities to support these workers to the greatest extent possible.”

 

The Missouri General Assembly has departed Jefferson City for an extended spring break and a timeline for a return to the Capitol is uncertain. If Governor Parson deems it necessary to wait for lawmakers to return to relax the statutory barriers to unemployment benefits, displaced workers could be left without any wage replacement for weeks. This risks accelerating the growing economic crisis facing Missourians. 

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