"Arkansas will soon pay the $300 in extra jobless benefits for those who qualify, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday (Sept. 8) during his daily COVID-19 briefing. He also said he was happy with anecdotal evidence showing Arkansans practicing safe health measures during the Labor Day weekend.
Unemployment insurance benefits that provided an extra $600 a week and paid benefits to the self-employed, fully paid by the federal government, expired at the end of July. Congressional leaders have yet to compromise on legislation to extend and adjust the benefits. President Donald Trump on Aug. 8 issued an executive order that would support extension of jobless benefits by using disaster relief funds (DRF) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and COVID relief funds previously provided by Congress to the states.
Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said Tuesday the Lost Wages Assistance program will provide $300 a week to those who now receive $100 more more a week in unemployment insurance. Those wanting to sign up for the added benefits can use this link or call (501) 907-2590. Those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance established for the self-employed are automatically eligible if they receive $100 more more a week in unemployment benefits.
Preston said there are an estimated 7,400 Arkansans not eligible for the $300 a week in added benefits. The state will use the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to help that group, but to be eligible a person must have a child under 18 and must meet federal poverty level criteria.
Gov. Hutchinson also said Tuesday the state will spend $4 million to buy 120,000 rapid antigen testing kits through the previously announced consortium with the Rockefeller Foundation and other states. The resources will be placed in state public health labs and in 10 university and college testing sites and “selected” community testing sites. The new supplies should be available beginning in October, he said. The $4 million is from federal funds through the CARES Act package Congress approved earlier this year."