Legislation to better manage Missouri’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund was vetoed by Gov. Nixon today.
“The Missouri Chamber is extremely disappointed in the veto of legislation designed to protect Missouri’s unemployment insurance system from economic downturns that have repeatedly thrown Missouri’s fund into insolvency over the last decade,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “We owe it to our employees to protect the fund for those that become unemployed through no fault of their own and we also owe it to employers, who fully fund our unemployment insurance system, 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.”
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob), provides common-sense provisions to better manage the UI trust fund. One provision would have increased the minimum amount of money in the fund before employers’ contribution rates decrease. Conversely, Missouri businesses would see their contribution rates decrease by 12 percent if the fund had a balance greater than $870 million. The bill also tied the number of weeks jobless Missourians could receive unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate.
“When unemployment is high, more weeks of support would be available. The weeks of benefits would be reduced when jobs are more plentiful,” Mehan said.
Following the last recession, Missouri’s unemployment insurance system became insolvent and had to borrow money from the federal government to cover claims and employers paid millions in interest alone on the borrowed funds. Many states were faced with the same problem, however, Missouri’s fund is especially unstable. In fact, Missouri is the only state that has had to borrow funds from the federal government to provide benefits to unemployed workers during the last five economic downturns.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 40,000 employers.