INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Gov. Mike Pence’s administration quickly scrapped its plans to stop 32,000 Hoosiers’ unemployment payments as a result of looming federal spending cuts, a move Indiana looked like it would be alone in making.
The reversal occurred just hours after Pence’s Indiana Department of Workforce Development had initially announced it would put all benefits on hold rather than guess at how much federally-extended unemployment payments should be reduced.
A two-sentence email from U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance administrator Gay Gilbert said the “sequester” would not affect benefits in early March and that more information would come on a Friday conference call.
That was enough to satisfy state officials, who quickly said they would continue payments that average $275 a week and go to those who have been out of work at least 26 weeks.
Indiana provides state unemployment benefits for the first 26 weeks that Hoosiers are out of work, but then federal funding kicks in to extend the program through 63 weeks. Federal officials had warned that benefits would be cut by 9.4 percent, but Workforce Development spokesman Joe Frank said the agency also needed to know how and when to implement those changes.