Colorado will be able to tap into federal money to provide $300 in weekly extra unemployment support to people without having to provide a $100 state match, according to information this week from federal officials.
But first, the governor has to request help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment received guidance on the $300 payments late Wednesday night, according to Cher Haavind, the department’s deputy executive director. The payments were authorized by President Donald Trump via an executive order over the weekend that said a state contribution was required, causing consternation among cash-strapped states.
The new program is being called the lost wages assistance program.
According to the guidance received this week, the money would be drawn from a pot of roughly $19 billion in FEMA disaster relief money. If states wish to contribute $100 weekly per person, that money could come from any source, including federal CARES Act money provided to them.
Gov. Jared Polis said early this week that the state only has enough money on hand to fund the state share for two to three weeks at most. But Wednesday’s guidance seems to have made that issue a moot point. Regular state unemployment payments will count toward the $100 match, labor department officials said, even if the state unemployment fund is borrowing federal dollars to stay afloat, as Colorado is expect to start doing next week.
Basically, as long as a Coloradan is collecting at least $100 per week in state unemployment support, they will be entitled to the $300 in federal support.
Ultimately, it is up to Polis to apply for that program, something he had yet to do as of Thursday morning, Haavind said. Once an application is submitted, the labor department expects that it will take “several weeks” to find out how much support the state will receive from FEMA and two to four weeks more to program systems to handle the new payments and attached requirements.
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