FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday vetoed a bill revamping rules for jobless benefits, condemning it as a “callous” measure that would spur more population losses in struggling rural regions of Kentucky.
The measure would increase work-search requirements for people receiving jobless benefits and tie the length of time recipients get benefits to the unemployment rate. That provision could cut the number of benefit weeks by more than half in times of low jobless rates.
“We have a duty to one another during hard times to provide a hand up,” Beshear said in a veto message on social media, adding that the state's current benefits are “in the line” with most states.
“But this is callous," the Democratic governor added, referring to the vetoed bill. "It’ll show the world, sadly, that we as a state care less about those that have fallen on hard times than other states.”
He warned the bill would cause "further depopulation” in parts of eastern and western Kentucky.
Republicans, with commanding legislative majorities, have routinely overridden the Democratic governor's vetoes. But GOP ranks were splintered over the unemployment bill, with some eastern Kentucky lawmakers speaking out against the measure. They said it would hurt their constituents struggling to find work in a region where many coalfield and manufacturing jobs have vanished.
Supporters say the measure represents an important step toward improving the state’s workforce shortages as businesses struggle to fill jobs.