Bill proposes workers paying into unemployment fund for first time

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio lawmakers have a new idea to shore up the state’s unemployment compensation fund. They want you to pay for it. Under a new proposal for the first time, the fund would draw millions from workers and employers and would shore up the fund until 2030.

When the recession hit in 2007, Ohio was forced to borrow from the federal government to keep paying unemployment benefits which lead to higher taxes on businesses until 2016. Right now according to lawmakers the fund needs help, “Our unemployment compensation fund right now is very low,” Said Representative Kirk Schuring R-Canton, “If we had a recession it would only sustain benefits for a few months,” Schuring added.

Representative Schuring was tasked to find a fix for the problem. House Bill 382 would flood the unemployment fund with about $370 million a year from 2019 to 2030 by pulling funds from workers and employers. According to Schuring the annual premium for workers would range from $0.46 to $9.35 a month. This would equate to about 10 percent of what employers pay, who would also see a rate increase. According to data from the Legislative Service Commission, Schuring calls it a fair split, “It’s nearly 50/50,” Schuring continued, “The share that would come from employees is 51%, and 49% from employers.”

Critics argue that workers will end up footing the entire bill, “At the end of the day it’s all going to come out of a worker’s paycheck,” said Rae Hederman with the Buckeye Institute, an independent think tank in Columbus. Hederman calls it a large tax increase on working Ohioans, “Most states don’t want to sit there and raise regressive taxes on everyday workers,” Hederman added.

The bill’s sponsor argues that while it may be unpopular, it’s necessary, “No one is going to be enthusiastic about this bill because it causes sacrifice on both sides, the employee and employer,” Representative Schuring said.

As for its chances at passing through the statehouse, at one of its first hearings, it had zero opponents and zero proponents.

“Nobody is going to like it,” said House of Representatives Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, adding that the bill needs some work but is a priority, to prevent history from repeating itself, “It’s very necessary that we do everything we can to shore up the system for the future of our state,” Rosenberger said.

If this passes Ohio would become one of just a handful of states in the country to do so. The bill remains in the House Government Accountability and Oversight committee.

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