(OpEd by Kentucky State Senators Danny Carroll, Matt Castlen, Stephen Meredith and Robby Mills)
Since the coronavirus pandemic came to Kentucky in early March, our state has been hit hard – more than most others. Due to Governor Andy Beshear’s executive orders, more than 800,000 Kentuckians lost their livelihoods and were forced to file unemployment insurance claims.
As Kentucky state senators, it is our responsibility to be voices for our constituents in Frankfort. Amid this pandemic, it is now more critical than ever that our state government live up to its commitments and keep its promises to the people of Kentucky.
Since the first week of June, as many as 40,000 Kentuckians have yet to receive their unemployment insurance payments, including up to 10,000 who filed in March during the early days of coronavirus shutdowns.
Republican senators, along with Attorney General Daniel Cameron, are reviewing the extent to which the executive branch can wield emergency powers unchecked during a crisis.
Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to hear from our constituents all across the Commonwealth. From large cities to small rural communities, the Beshear Administration is failing to deliver when it comes to getting citizens the unemployment insurance they were promised to get through this crisis.
Every day, Kentuckians continue to struggle to provide for their families – be it their rent or mortgages, utility bill payments, and much more. The benefits Governor Beshear promised continue to fail to reach Kentuckians who need them the most.
Many applicants who have applied during the initial shutdowns in March still have yet to receive benefits, along with thousands of others who filed through April and May. Some people never receive the benefits in the first place, while others initially obtain payments, but then they mysteriously stop. Additionally, countless applicants struggle to get through to the Office of Unemployment Insurance just to speak with a human being about the status of their claims.
These delays are heartbreaking and completely unacceptable. Yet the problems continue to pile up. While sitting on this massive backlog of tens of thousands of unprocessed claims, the Beshear Administration withheld news of a critical security breach for more than a month, even though they are required to report such incidents to the public within days.
Gov. Beshear had a press conference weeks ago, where he finally acknowledged it was time for better unemployment insurance results. Yet countless families are still waiting on those promised results, as his administration is still sitting on an enormous backlog of claims.
Struggling Kentuckians, they cannot afford to wait any longer. If the governor is serious about his persistent claims that we are “all in this together,” then enough is enough. It is time for Governor Beshear to quit stalling and fix this unemployment insurance disaster once and for all.
Senator Danny Carroll represents District 2, which includes Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall and McCracken Counties. Senator Matt Castlen represents District 8, which includes Daviess, Hancock, and McLean Counties. Senator Stephen Meredith represents District 5, which includes Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Hart, LaRue, and Meade Counties. Senator Robby Mills of Henderson represents District 4, which includes Caldwell, Crittenden, Henderson, Livingston, Union, and Webster Counties.