Biggest cut of crisis relief money for unemployment trust

Virginia News

FILE This Thursday Aug. 5 2021 file photo shows Virginia Governor Ralph Northam during a news conference inside the Patrick Henry Building at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. About 20% of Virginia’s funding from the latest federal coronavirus relief bill will help replenish the fund that pays unemployment benefits, staving off hefty tax increases for employers. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — About 20 percent of Virginia’s funding from the latest federal coronavirus relief bill will help replenish the fund that pays unemployment benefits, staving off hefty tax increases for employers.

But only about two percent will pay for improvements at the state agency that handles those benefits and has faced widespread criticism about its performance during the pandemic.

While business groups have welcomed the funding, workers’ advocates said the imbalance shows Virginia Democrats’ priorities are out of order.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s spokeswoman says it would be “irresponsible” to leave the fund at its currently depleted levels.

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