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We’re good, thanks! S. Dakota didn’t lockdown, declines extra $300-a-week unemployment benefits

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South Dakota’s governor has turned down extra unemployment funding from the federal government because the state apparently does not need it.

Gov. Kristi Noem touted South Dakota’s economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic and said, though her administration is “grateful” for the offer, it wasn’t necessary to accept the additional $300 weekly unemployment aid.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“My administration is very grateful for the additional flexibility that this effort would have provided, but South Dakota is in the fortunate position of not needing to accept it,” Noem said in a statement on Friday, going on to note her state’s economy is rebounding.

“South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses,” the Republican governor added, referring to the fallout from the pandemic shutdowns.

“South Dakota is the only state in the nation that didn’t have extended benefits kick in because our insured unemployment rate has been the lowest in the nation,” Noem, a vocal ally of President Trump, said, adding in a Twitter thread that they were “fortunate.”

The entire state has seen 153 deaths related to COVID-19 so far and Noem has been adamant about protecting the lives and freedoms of its residents. One of the few state leaders who did not shut everything down in the wake of the pandemic, Noem has been praised for her handling of the crisis.

After congressional Democrats and White House officials failed to reach an agreement on new coronavirus relief legislation earlier this month, the existing $600-per-week enhanced unemployment aid that was put in place in March through the CARES Act expired.

The president stepped in and signed an executive order earlier this month, pulling from $44 billion of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to provide an extra $300 in unemployment benefits for Americans still struggling in the wake of the pandemic.

Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and New Mexico were approved for the extra aid, as the president indicated in a tweet.

“Despite significant disfunction in Congress, President Trump continues to problem solve and provide great leadership during this recovery effort,” Noem said in her statement.

The lawmaker added that “many, many businesses are looking to relocate to South Dakota because of the decisions we made during the pandemic.”

“South Dakota is open for business – that applies to our business owners and their employees,” Noem said of her state which has a current unemployment rate of 7.2 percent.

Despite the outcry over Trump’s Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore, Noem had indicated last month that there were no new COVID-19 outbreaks related to the celebration.

“I think what we did here in South Dakota is really remarkable because we gave people their freedom,” she told Fox News in July. “We let the businesses stay open and we let people go to work and we told them to be smart, and we also asked them to be personally responsible and we’re seeing benefits of that each and every day in South Dakota.”

Noem’s announcement was met with applause by many on Twitter who praised her leadership during the coronavirus crisis.

Frieda Powers

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