CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he wasn't sure if Ohio will be able to contribute towards the $400 a week unemployment payments President Donald Trump announced on Saturday, but late Sunday agreed to an alternate plan that allows Ohio to receive $300 in federal assistance per person without contributing the additional $100 in state funds.
The executive order offered two options: one that extends additional unemployment payments of $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic, with each state contributing $100 of the $400 from its budget. The other option was to accept just $300 a week from the federal government, with no additional funds from the state.
When asked if the state can afford it, DeWine said, “We are reviewing this now. We have set some money aside, a significant amount of money aside for testing. Testing is going to be very very important. So the answer is I don’t know yet.”
He said Congress needs to “pull together” to negotiate a deal.
“I want to thank the president,” DeWine said. “The president had a difficult situation. He’s got a blunt instrument, that’s the executive order. He’s trying to do something. He’s trying to move the ball forward.”
Reflecting on his time in Congress, DeWine said sometimes it looked near impossible for a deal to be reached, but said at the last minute, a deal can happen.
“We need to look at this like we are at war,” DeWine said on CNN. “Throughout our history when we have had a foreign invader, we pull together, Democrats and Republicans. We have an invader. That is this virus. I’m confident they can do that.”
Many states are already facing budget crunches caused by the pandemic. Asked at a news conference how many governors had signed on to participate, Trump answered: “If they don’t, they don’t. That’s up to them.”
Trump expressed a different view on Sunday night, following a day of state officials questioning how they could afford even $100 per person in additional weekly payments. He told reporters as he returned to Washington that states could make an application to have the federal government provide all or part of the $400 payments. Decisions would be made state by state, he said.
Still, DeWine was noncommittal Sunday about whether Ohio would participate.
“We’re looking at it right now to see whether we can do this,” DeWine had said.
Late Sunday, DeWine did agree to the $300 per week plan that did not require additional state spending, the Associated Press reports.
Taking on the financial burden of the extra $100 would have required a longer review process and involved consulting with state lawmakers because new state spending was required, said DeWine's spokesperson Dan Tierney on Monday.