Missouri House gives first round approval to legislation to protect Missouri’s Unemployment Trust Fund

House lawmakers today perfected House Bill 150, legislation that makes changes to Missouri’s unemployment insurance system to ensure solvency of this important safety net for unemployed workers.  HB150, sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob), would tie the number of weeks jobless Missourians can receive unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate.

Following the recession, Missouri’s unemployment insurance system became insolvent and had to borrow money from the federal government to cover claims.  Employers paid millions in interest alone on the borrowed funds.

“Although our federal UI debt is now covered, it makes sense to enact common-sense reforms that will keep Missouri employers out of debt during the next downturn. Shortening the number of weeks employees can draw unemployment benefits would provide significant savings to the trust fund.  When the economy is tough and unemployment is higher, more funds would be available,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO.

Both Georgia and Florida have passed legislation that ties unemployment benefit weeks to the unemployment rate.

Under this bill, 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;
  • 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if the Missouri average unemployment rate is below 6 percent

The Missouri Chamber is the lead advocate of this legislation and has testified multiple times on its behalf when previous versions have been heard in past legislative sessions.

“During each of the last five recessions, Missouri has been the only state in the nation that has had to borrow money from the federal government in order to pay its unemployment insurance claims,” Mehan 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.”

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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