House passes unemployment insurance rate freeze legislation

State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D – Franklin) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in passing legislation that freezes a scheduled increase in the unemployment insurance assessment paid by all employers.

“During the campaign, I talked frequently about the importance of getting our economy back on track and focusing on economic development,” said Roy. “I am pleased that one of my first votes as a Representative will help businesses create jobs, avoid additional costs, and help stabilize the economy.”

“At the open of this session, I stood before the House membership and called for support of another unemployment insurance rate freeze to help lessen the burden of this recession on businesses,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “In these tough economic times, it remains ever important that we pass legislation to help stimulate business expansion and create job opportunities.”

“We continue to work hard to balance the needs of employers and employees in Massachusetts,” said Chairman Brian S. Dempsey of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “By freezing the unemployment insurance rate, we are protecting our Commonwealth’s businesses from additional hardship, which in turn safeguards current jobs and maintains vital support services for those workers who are struggling to recover from the Great Recession.”

The unemployment system run by the Commonwealth is primarily funded by the state’s employers. By law, as the funds in the unemployment system become depleted, employers’ contributions would increase. Freezing the rate at Schedule E will save the average employer from having a near 30% increase for unemployment insurance per employee and workers would continue to receive the same benefits under this rate freeze.

Furthermore the bill reduces the appropriations for non-executive offices by 1% and addresses items that require additional funding or corrective language. For example, the supplemental budget draws $30M from the Stablization Fund to address a deficit caused by the Hinton Drug Lab case; however, after this draw, the state maintains a healthy balance of $1.2B in the rainy day fund.

This legislation also includes spending provisions for operating deficiencies of immediate need that include $45M for Homeless Family Shelters and $3M for unexpected costs to state agencies as a result of Hurricane Sandy among others.

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