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Eye On Boise

Idaho borrowing from feds to bail out unemployment insurance trust fund

Idaho has borrowed more than $51 million from the federal government since July 1 to bail out its unemployment insurance trust fund, despite a 70 percent tax rate increase for Idaho employers this year. It gets worse: The state expects the borrowing to rise to $190 million by next spring - even with a much larger tax increase likely to hit next year. "The rate will go up in 2010 and it will go up more than it did this year," said Bob Fick, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor.

For much of the past decade, business interests pushed to freeze tax rates when they would otherwise have gone up, pushing off a reckoning. But that's not likely this year. "We kinda knew we were in a situation where, given the severity of this downturn, and particularly the severity for Idaho, things really weren't going to be looking good for this fund," said Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. "It's not on our list as something that we are going to push for legislative amendments."

You can read my full story here. With soaring unemployment, Idaho expects to pay out $550 million in federal and state unemployment benefits this year - the highest it ever paid before was $247 million in 2008. "We're talking about doubling it in one year's time," Fick said. "This is a severe circumstance."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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