ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here
Archive

Eye On Boise

Unemployment compromise reached

Here’s an unlikely prospect: Business and labor sitting down together to work out a plan for increased unemployment taxes on businesses and reduced benefits for workers. But that’s really what’s happened. Today, the state Department of Commerce and Labor unveiled compromise legislation on Idaho’s unemployment system, worked out over the past two years by interests ranging from Micron Technology to the Idaho AFL-CIO.

This comes after a three-year freeze on tax rates, which otherwise would have risen through the roof thanks to the recession, as many Idaho workers were laid off. While the freeze saved Idaho employers millions, it also depleted the state unemployment trust fund, and the new legislation is designed to keep the fund solvent.

The freeze ended Jan. 1. Without changes in the law, unemployment tax rates would now shoot up 113 percent. Instead, the compromise legislation calls for them to rise 12.5 percent this year, and then to rise or fall as needed each year, in increments rather than sudden jumps. Benefits would be slightly reduced – the maximum payment would drop from $325 a week to $312 in 2005, plus some workers would get a week less of benefits and others would take longer to qualify. The benefits and tax rates were tied together, so in the future, when the economy recovers, tax rates would go back down and benefits would go back up.

“You’ve got to look at both sides,” said Dave Whaley of the Idaho AFL-CIO. “We’ve got to have the jobs for the workers. We’ve also got to have those unemployment benefits that will carry them to another job.”

Teresa Molitor of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry said, “The business community was prepared to absorb a tax increase of some sort. … We think that this package is kind of the definition of fairness.”

Roger Madsen, state Commerce and Labor director, noted that eight states have seen their unemployment programs go bust, forcing them to borrow money from the federal government, which then forces even higher tax increases. “It’s a very important program, very controversial,” Madsen said. “It’s doing its job in Idaho.”

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Eye On Boise

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Eye On Boise.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here