Montana has begun issuing new unemployment benefits made possible through an executive order by President Trump.
At a Thursday press conference, Gov. Steve Bullock announced Montanans receiving unemployment insurance will get an extra $400 a week from the lost wages assistance program. FEMA will provide $300, with the state covering the rest with its share of federal CARES Act dollars.
Montana is one of a handful of states to request the benefits from the federal government.
Bullock says the state took advantage of the program because many Montanas can’t afford to wait until Congress comes up with an alternative solution.
“We didn’t wait to act because we know that these are greatly needed benefits that put money in the pockets of Montanans, and ensure that they can continue taking care of their families during this difficult time,” said Bullock.
According to the state, the program issued $31 million this week after being set up.
Bullock also addressed the new school year and the frustrations many families are experiencing in regards to the attendance of school sports.
“I understand that the current determination by some health officers to not allow spectators at high school and middle school events is difficult. I too had been looking forward to watching my daughter play for the [Helena High Bengals] this fall,” said Bullock.
The state has not made any mandate in regards to sporting events or their attendance, leaving the control in the hands of local governments.
Bullock backed local governments ability to implement additional COVID-19 restrictions for their community that go beyond the State’s mandates.
“As we fight to put this pandemic behind us, I remain convinced that the ability for local jurisdictions to be more restrictive should continue,” said Bullock.
Bullock urges Montanans to work constructively and respectfully with their local public health and school officials and the school year progresses.