OLYMPIA -- After some serious negotiating and head-counts on different options, the House unanimously passed a new version of changes to the unemployment insurance system.
It provides businesses with rate relief, cancelling a planned increase in taxes. It's not really a tax cut, Republican leaders were quick to note after the proposal passed, because it merely uses some of the surplus the system has built up over the years. They like to call it a rate smoothing.
In any case, it would save businesses about $300 million in lower rates.
A separate bill allows for a temporary increase in benefits to unemployed workers, using up to $68 million of federal money being made available to the state. It sets aside another $30 million for new training programs for unemployed workers.
The bill with the one-year rate smoothing now goes to the governor. The other changes go back to the Senate, which could vote on that bill by the end of the week.