Senate lawmakers are considering legislation that would tie the number of weeks jobless Missourians can receive unemployment benefits to the unemployment insurance rate. Today, Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City, presented Senate Bill 673 to the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight.
“This legislation provides protection to Missouri employers who pay into the fund and also ensures unemployed workers that the funds they depend upon will be available in the future,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs. “This is common-sense legislation and we fully support the measure.”
Following the recession, Missouri’s unemployment insurance system became insolvent and had to borrow money from the federal government to cover claims. Missouri has borrowed more than $1 billion since then to continue paying unemployment benefits.
“Employers have paid millions of dollars in interest and penalties alone on this debt,” King said. “We owe it to our employers to establish systemic reforms that will better protect the fund so that we don’t have this problem arise the next time the economy dips.”
Prior to the recession, the average number of benefit weeks was 15 weeks.
Under Senate Bill 673, unemployed Missourians would be eligible for:
- 20 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is nine percent or higher
- 19 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 8.5 percent and 9 percent;
- 18 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 8 percent up to and including 8.5 percent;
- 17 weeks if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 7 .5 percent and 8 percent;
- 16 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 7 percent up to and including 7.5 percent;
- 15 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is between 6.5 percent and 7 percent;
- 14 weeks of benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is 6 percent up to and including 6.5 percent; and
- 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is below 6.5 percent
“The Missouri Chamber is emphasizing the need to address our unemployment insurance system on multiple levels. It is critical that we provide long-term stability for the fund in the future so that the system can serve the workers it was designed to protect – people unemployed by no fault of their own,” said King.
Both Georgia and Florida have passed legislation that ties unemployment benefit weeks to the unemployment rate.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business organization in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers, providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.