North Dakota is a hot spot for covid 19. The increase in active cases, the most the state has had since the pandemic began, has a lot of people questioning Burgum’s leadership on the issue. Is the state doing enough to mitigate the spread of the virus? Perhaps not. At least in one area, Burgum is right.
At the end of July, the enhanced unemployment insurance benefit expired. The lapse in benefits came as Congress failed to act on another relief package. Try as they have, Senate Republicans sat on a bill the House passed for weeks and did nothing until the last minute. They failed to do their job and work on a bill collecting dust in their chamber.
The stalled tactics allowed for President Trump to ride in and issue an executive order. One of the items in the order included a smaller enhanced unemployment benefit. There was a catch, states had to opt-in for the full effect. It wasn’t certain every state would pony up. Look no further than Governor Kristi Noem in South Dakota.
Fortunately, Burgum made the right choice. The state estimates the Lost Wages Assistance Program will benefit 17,600 North Dakotans. To access the federal funds, the program requires the state to provide a 25% match, which will come from North Dakota’s existing unemployment weekly benefit payment. The program will only cover unemployment over the first three weeks of August, but recipients will have to wait until September to actually receive the checks. Every bit helps in these uncertain times.
As I said before, it is okay to ask questions about Burgum’s leadership during the pandemic as cases continue to rise. We will continue to ask those questions. But in this instance, Burgum got it right.
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