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Jobless Arizonans to get $300 a week in federal benefits, governor says
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Jobless Arizonans to get $300 a week in federal benefits, governor says

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Gov. Doug Ducey agreed today to accept a federal offer of an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits for jobless Arizonans, to replace the $600 payments that expired at the end of last month.

But the governor won't provide an optional state match to bring the extra benefits up to $400. Aides said Ducey wants to save that money to bail out employers who otherwise would have to pay more to replenish the account that pays the state's basic $240 a week in benefits.

The aid could start flowing within days, said Daniel Scarpinato, the governor's chief of staff.

The extra cash is retroactive to Aug. 1. That means eligible Arizonans would be paid next week not only for that week but for the two weeks they missed.

The benefit won't last long. The dollars are coming out of the federal Disaster Relief Fund. But President Trump has limited that withdrawal to about $44 billion, an amount that is estimated to provide five weeks of payments.

Scarpinato said that provides time to break the stalemate in Congress that allowed the $600 additional benefits to expire. Democrats wanted the full amount; Republicans countered with $200 a week, followed by some figure tied to what people were earning before.

At some point, however, there will no longer be federal funds to supplement what each state provides in benefits.

When that comes, it will leave those in Arizona who lose their jobs through no fault of their own with the maximum payment of $240 a week. Only Mississippi pays less.

Scarpinato sidestepped repeated questions of whether the governor at some point would be willing to raise the $240 cap, which has not been adjusted since 2004.

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