COVID-19 in Arizona: Ducey asks Congress for employment support

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey has asked Arizona’s congressional delegation to focus on unemployment and other matters important to Arizonans in the next federal COVID-19 relief package.

Ducey’s July 21 letter seeks funds to guarantee the unemployed will be eligible to receive at least 100% of their weekly earnings, and to replenish the state’s $1 billion unemployment trust fund, which has paid out $640 million since the pandemic began.

“We know we will continue to have needs over the coming weeks and months and we are working to be good stewards of those dollars to the benefit of all Arizonans,” Ducey wrote.

The governor also asked for an extension beyond the Dec. 30 deadline for tribal leaders to spend money allocated by Congress “to ensure they can target their highest areas of need, including infrastructure that will allow them to continue providing needed services.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, told The Arizona Republic the senator is “deeply engaged” in crafting the next relief package, a followup to the CARES Act Congress passed in March.

“Employees who are unable to return to work should receive sustained financial relief with expanded unemployment benefits,” McSally said in a later statement. “Congress should provide more support to small businesses that continue to be impacted by restrictions so they can stay afloat.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, also wants support for small businesses, and she has requested more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped businesses large and small stay afloat during the shutdown.

Additionally, Sinema is seeking additional support for public health and has voiced concerns about the pandemic’s spread in Arizona.

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