Unemployment Fix Left Undone by Legislature

By Beth Musgrave – [email protected]

A measure that would shore up the state’s bankrupt unemployment insurance program failed to win approval in the final days of the legislative session.

The lack of action by lawmakers means the state’s unemployment system could cost businesses more money, the bill’s supporters say.

House Bill 349 would fix the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which faces a nearly $732 million deficit, by reducing unemployment benefits and increasing taxes on employers.

The measure, supported by unions and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, was approved by the House in February. It was never called for a vote in the Senate.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has said the Senate was concerned about the portion of the bill that raises taxes. Because many of the provisions in the bill did not take effect until 2011, Williams said the Senate could wait until next year to consider the bill.

But House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, said he didn’t think the agreement, which took months to ink, will be available next year.

“It will save businesses $700 million over the next 10 years,” Clark said of the deal.

Read the full article in the Herald-Leader.