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Cuyahoga County pushing for expanded unemployment benefits during pandemic

Executive wants all workers covered
Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 19:06:31-04

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish is calling for changes to Ohio's unemployment system to ensure all workers laid-off during the coronavirus pandemic have access to benefits.

"We'd like to see basically no requirements at this point for unemployment," said Budish. "If you lost your job as a result of this epidemic, you should get unemployment."

That's good news for workers like Taylor Day. She was laid-off when the governor ordered bars to close to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Day, who went back to work in January after giving birth to her son, applied for unemployment, but said she was denied because she hadn't worked for the required 20 weeks.

"Life is definitely still moving and the bills and rent and everything is still piling in," said Day. "Nobody was expecting a pandemic. Nobody."

Budish said he's instructed the county's lobbyists to prioritize making it easier for people to qualify for benefits.

"How are people going to feed their families and pay their mortgages and it's really sad," said Budish. "So we're doing everything we can to make sure people have enough to live on."

Specifically, Budish said he's like to see the state eliminate the 20 weeks of work requirement and waive the minimum earning requirement.

He said he's hopeful lawmakers will listen to the county's case.

"They're contacting everybody they can in state government, and federal government, and we're optimistic, but until something happens," said Budish.

Meanwhile, Day hopes things change soon.

"You try not to think about it, you go on," she said. "You think oh, this bill's not due until then, rent's not due until then, I have today and that's all we're thinking about is today. But when that day comes that all those bills are due, and that rent is due, yeah, we don't have that today anymore."