Kentucky Legislators Weigh Fixes For Unemployment Overpayments

Feb 23, 2021

Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that Republican sponsors say will help replenish the state's unemployment trust fund and set rules for waiving overpayments made to claimants.

Lines queue up in Frankfort to get in-person help with unemployment benefits in June 2020.
Credit Sherman Fracher

Sen. David Givens told colleagues it's the legislature that's had to come to the rescue of Kentuckians who were mistakenly overpaid by the state's unemployment office and in danger of having to pay that money back. Givens said in the rush to expand benefits in the early days of the pandemic, Gov. Beshear's administration stretched the UI trust fund beyond its limits.

"It's never been intended to be used the way the governor intimated that it would be used, or could be used," the Greensburg Republican added.

Givens' bill sets up a mechanism for the state's labor secretary to waive overpayment of claims in 2020 that were not the filers' fault.

The bill is one of several aimed at fixing unemployment system failures, which were recently catalogued by State Auditor Mike Harmon, who also updated lawmakers on his findings.

"Eventually, you've just got to figure it out," he said. "We owe that to the great citizens of this commonwealth who have suffered so long and so much during this pandemic."

Whether the legislative fixes will make their way through the General Assembly remains an open question, with this year's short 30-day session already at the halfway point.