The state Department of Labor is advising new applicants for funding through the Excluded Workers Fund that there may not be enough allocated resources to fulfill their claims.
“The Fund is currently nearing exhaustion. While we will still accept new applications, we cannot guarantee that funds will be available,” reads a notice that went up Friday on the first page of the fund’s online application process.
The problem is the reverse of what was anticipated this summer, when advocates for the funding were worried that the state’s eligibility rules and application process might keep the $2.1 billion allocated for the fund from being completely utilized. After less than two months of accepting applications, though, more than half of the available funding for aid has already been allocated.
“We’re going to need more money for this program,” Fund Excluded Workers Coalition coordinator Bianca Guerrero told The Capitol Pressroom. “We’re currently doing an analysis to figure out just how much, given that the turnout is unprecedented.”
When advocates do determine how much additional funding is needed, they will likely face an uphill battle in Albany when they try to secure support in the budget, as the creation of the program was divisive even among the Democratic majorities at the Capitol.
“It took a lot of organizing, a lot of phone banks, a lot of marches, (and) two hunger strikes to get to this point,” Guerrero said. “If we need more money to make sure that all the eligible excluded workers are served, we’re gonna fight for that money. It won’t be easy, but none of this has been easy so far and we are committed to making sure that every single person who needs help gets what they deserve.”