$1.4 billion dollars in jobless benefits part federal help for Tennessee

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly five billion dollars and counting, but one Tennessee department is getting a lot of it.

$4.9 billion dollars is the updated amount of federal stimulus money headed to Tennessee — for the moment.

Governor Bill Lee’s financial stimulus accountability group is tasked with keeping track of what’s been and will be sent from Washington.

“This group is certainly focused on the stimulus funds and how to best allocate those dollars to the state,” said state finance commissioner Butch Ely who led the latest meeting of the group.

“I think this is $4.9 billion dollars which is significantly higher than what we reported to you last time,” state budget director David Thurman told the group during its Tuesday meeting.

He said the higher figure now includes the $600 dollar weekly federal unemployment benefit that an estimated half million jobless Tennesseans are supposed to receive.

Every lawmaker from the governor on down admits to hearing hundreds of stories from people who have not received those benefits.

Getting that money out to those who need it has been a learning curve for the state’s labor department during the past two months.

“To get the benefits out to Tennesseans, we are making increased use of technology,” said labor department commissioner Jeff McCord at a briefing last week with Governor Lee. “To do that, to accelerate that, we are able to do some things this week that we were not able to do last week even.”

The state’s budget director said there’s $1.4 billion dollars headed to help the state’s unemployment picture. The State Labor Department said last week about three hundred claims have been processed and people paid, but an estimated two hundred thousand claims had not been processed.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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