Ohio Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill
Legislation was introduced on Oct. 11 that would make significant changes to Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The bill’s objective is to improve the solvency of the Unemployment Compensation Insurance Fund.
State Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, introduced
House Bill 382
which seeks to strike a compromise between business and labor as the state tries to improve the fund’s solvency and create adequate reserves before the onset of another recession.
The fund was emptied in the wake of the 2008 recession as the state borrowed more than $3 billion from the federal government between 2009 and 2014 – a situation state lawmakers have said they want to prevent in the future.
A previous attempt to address the issue led to the creation of a working group including labor and business organizations. There has been no formal agreement or legislative endorsement issued between the two groups Schuring told reporters the bill reflects what he has taken away from those meetings. It should be considered a starting point for legislative negotiation and compromise.
Among the changes, the bill:
Lowers the minimum safe level (MSL) by setting it at 0.75% of the average high cost multiple;
- Increases the premium wage base to $11,000.
- Increases the top MSL premium rate from 0.2% to 0.3% when the fund is below the MSL.
- Establishes an employee coinsurance payment equal to 10% of the amount paid by the respective employer.
- Freezes the maximum weekly benefit amount for 10 years.
- Modifies benefits for dependents.
- Limits the benefits to 24 weeks, instead of the current 26 weeks. Schuring said those employed in industries that rely on weather, such as construction, would be able to get benefits for 26 weeks.
Schuring also introduced companion
House Joint Resolution 4
. HJR4 will allow the state to issue bonds to pay for unemployment compensation benefits when the fund is depleted or to repay loans to the federal government in order to avoid penalties and interest.