States cannot afford Trump's jobless aid plan, Wolf says

Pennsylvania does not have the money to provide $100 a week as President Donald Trump pushes states to help pay for a new round of federal unemployment assistance, Gov. Tom Wolf told the state's members of Congress.

In a Thursday letter, Wolf, a Democrat, urged Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation anew to extend the $600 per-week federal benefit, which ended last month, and warned them that Trump's plan is a “convoluted and short-lived proposal that will delay payments to unemployed Pennsylvanians and create unnecessary and costly administrative burdens" for states.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)

States are in the midst of deciding whether to sign onto Trump's plan, a new $400 a week payment that requires a state to commit to providing $100, or simply accept $300 in extra weekly federal unemployment assistance.

Wolf's office said Friday that it is still waiting for additional guidance from the federal government before making a final decision.

Wolf's administration has said a new program must be created from scratch, separate from Pennsylvania’s existing unemployment benefits programs, because Trump's executive order is written under disaster relief and emergency assistance law.

But, “simply put, states, including Pennsylvania, do not have the funds to meet this mandatory $100 match” without additional federal aid, Wolf wrote.

Wolf also said there is not enough federal disaster relief aid to sustain the new benefit for more than a few weeks, and people with backdated claims won't get payments once the federal disaster relief aid runs out.

Plus, additional eligibility requirements will prevent about 30,000 Pennsylvanians from receiving the assistance despite being eligible for the previous round of assistance, Wolf said.