Several Indiana residents have gathered to file a lawsuit against the state government after Governor Eric Holcomb announced his plan to drop out of the federal program, which provides unemployment benefits for jobless workers during the pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, June 15, seeks to maintain the $300-per-week program, which is supposed to be temporary and officially expire in September.
It highlights that the Republican governor’s decision to pull Indiana out of the expanded unemployment benefits will harm thousands of people.
“These benefits have provided life-sustaining and crucial assistance to many Hoosiers during the pandemic,” Jon Laramore, executive director of Indiana Legal Services, said in a statement.
Last month, Holcomb declared that beginning June 1, anyone receiving unemployment benefits will have to demonstrate that they are actively looking for work and that Indiana will exit federal programs on June 19.
Holcomb said that he decided to encourage unemployed individuals to look for jobs amid reports of nationwide staffing shortages.
He added that ending the benefits earlier will assist Indiana firms in finding and hiring talented workers to fill thousands of open vacancies.
Many businesses blame the extra $300 weekly payment and ease of receiving unemployment benefits for making it more challenging to fill job opportunities, prompting the decision to withdraw the state from federal programs.
Republicans in the legislature also pressed Holcomb to pull Indiana out of those federal programs.
On the other hand, workers’ rights advocates argue that there are not enough opportunities for people who rely on government benefits, pointing out that while 116,000 jobs are available, nearly 200,000 people have been getting federal unemployment benefits.
Jennifer Terry, an attorney with Indiana Legal Services, one of the firms that filed the lawsuit against Holcomb, told CNN that “the whole purpose of the unemployment system is to provide people with insurance funds to bridge the gap until they find new employment.”
“Unfortunately, there are just a lot of industries and pockets of our country that have not fully rebounded from the pandemic,” Terry added.
Rev. David Greene, another plaintiff, is concerned that the removal of government funds may increase evictions.
“There’s a difference between going back to work and working 20 hours a week, with rent, car payments, food, etc.,” he said.
“We need to get organizations to get back up to 40 hours a week.”
“People dealing with stress and not making enough money—well they resort to crime,” he said.
“… Finances is always key in any relationship. When finances dwindle, there’s an increase in domestic violence,” added Greene.