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Gov. Ducey says unemployed Arizonans to get $300 federal boost

President Donald Trump signs an executive order during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday he expects Arizona to receive federal funding for $300 a week in additional unemployment benefits.

Ducey said in a press release the aid will be available through funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency under an executive order signed recently by President Donald Trump.

Arizona has applied for the funding and expects quick approval, said Ducey, who met with the president last week in Washington to discuss the state’s coronavirus response.

The extra payments, which would bring Arizona’s maximum unemployment benefit to $540 weekly, would be made retroactively for each week after July 26 where previous federal payments may have lapsed, according to the release.

The new extension is half the previous $600 federal benefit that was part of CARES Act and was provided from March 29 to July 25.

That benefit expired without Congress reaching a deal to extend it, and negotiations have been fruitless.

The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund benefit will be available until Dec. 6 or when the money set aside is gone, the release said.

If Arizona’s plan is approved, benefit checks could flow as soon as Sunday.

“As a result of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Arizona families and individuals are facing lost employment through no fault of their own, and these dollars will provide some immediate help,” Ducey said in the release.

“Now, we need members of Congress to work together, do their job, and extend these benefits for families relying on them.”

Trump said payments would be boosted by $400 when he signed the order, with states responsible for a 25% match. But Arizona is among a large number of states that have opted out of match because of budget concerns.

Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak told The Associated Press it is important to keep the state’s unemployment trust fund solvent, so using that fund to boost benefits isn’t wise.

“We know we have to be responsible and prudent with these dollars,” he said. “We want to make sure that Arizonans can continue to receive unemployment later this year.”

The trust held about $1.1 billion at the end of February, and it now has about $590 million.

More than 370,000 Arizonans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, up from about 17,500 before the pandemic hit in March and Ducey began ordering businesses to close to contain the spread of the virus.

The CARES Act supplement that pushed Arizona payments to $840 a week helped many stay afloat, along with the businesses they patronize and the governments collecting taxes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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