Maine will offer a one-time $600 payment to workers receiving unemployment before the end of the year to partially compensate for the end of federal unemployment benefits, the state announced Wednesday.
More than 30,000 Mainers are expected to lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress passes another stimulus package. Talks in Washington are ongoing, but lawmakers from both parties are at odds over a number of issues, including unemployment.
The one-time payment to unemployed Mainers will come from funds the state has left over from a federal stimulus bill from March. Gov. Janet Mills and the Maine Department of Labor said the agency had authorized $25.2 million in funding, which would be enough for 42,000 recipients.
The agency said the payments will be made by the end of December using unemployment claimants’ information already on file. Unemployed workers do not have to fill out additional paperwork.
Claimants are eligible for the benefit if they exhausted one of the federal unemployment programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, after Nov. 14 or if they have established a coronavirus-related unemployment claim and file for unemployment in at least one of the first three weeks of December.
“While this relief payment is not enough to make unemployed Maine people whole, it is our hope it will serve as a lifeline to sustain them during the holidays and until Federal support arrives,” Mills said in a Wednesday news release.
The Democratic governor renewed a call on the federal government to provide additional aid as well. Members of Maine’s congressional delegation have called for additional federal unemployment benefits as part of another aid package.
A proposal negotiated in part by Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King would extend both federal unemployment programs and provide an additional $300 per week to all individuals receiving benefits. Democratic congressional leaders threw their support behind that plan last week, but the White House rocked negotiations Tuesday by putting out its own plan that rejected extending unemployment benefits in favor of a one-time $600 stimulus check.