A Letter to State Legislators from Employers in Your District

Issues & Policies

Dear State Legislators:
Here’s good news if you’re looking for a way to help employers in your district without impacting the state budget. By voting for HB 5367 you can support every business in your district, their workers, and their families.


Connecticut’s minimum qualifying limit for unemployment benefits–the second-lowest in the U.S.–hasn’t changed since 1967.

(Not a bad line to add to your campaign flyers this fall, by the way.)
What does HB 5367 do? Many positive things, including:

  • Helps create a level playing field between our state’s unemployment compensation system and those of neighboring states.
  • Helps shield Connecticut’s unemployment trust fund against future serious downturns
  • Helps prevent a repeat of the eight years of federal unemployment debt and tax increases that Connecticut businesses just finally finished paying off from the Great Recession

Ask any business in your district, and they will tell you about the painful tax increases they’ve paid as a result of the state’s borrowing nearly $1 billion during the recession to shore up the unemployment trust fund.
We have also been hit with special assessments year after year just to cover the interest on this debt.
After the state took out the loan, businesses were solely responsible for paying it back–which we finally just finished after eight years.
During that time, we never missed a single unemployment payment to a deserving individual.
States have a lot of discretion in the unemployment benefits they pay out and the taxes they collect.
Our neighboring states take in the same amount of unemployment tax revenue as we do, yet every one of them paid back their federal loan.
In fact, in most cases, neighboring states paid these loans back many years ago. How did they manage that?
They made simple reforms to the unemployment benefits they pay out at the state level–and in most cases, they made these reforms long ago in order to avoid problems during recessions.
These reforms helped make sure their unemployment compensation trust funds were solvent to provide for future workers.

You can help prevent Connecticut businesses from shouldering more debt during future recessions by acting now on HB 5367.

The reforms were not Draconian; they were sensible, and designed to encourage the unemployed to get back to work as soon as they could.
You can help prevent Connecticut businesses from having to shoulder more debt during future recessions by acting now on HB 5367, which makes the following minor reforms:

  • Raising the minimum earnings to qualify for unemployment benefits to $2,000. Claimants in Connecticut need only earn $600 in a year to qualify for benefits—the third lowest earnings requirement in the U.S. For perspective, 32 states/territories require between $2,000 and $5,000 in earnings. The earnings requirement in Connecticut has not been raised since the statute went into effect in 1967.
  • Requiring claimants to post their resumes online to receive benefits after six consecutive weeks of unemployment. Rhode Island recently instituted this reform which studies show gets the unemployed back to work faster. Connecticut’s labor department already has an online resume listing portal in operation that can be utilized for this purpose.
  • Basing benefits on an employee’s annual salary rather than two highest quarters, to avoid inequitably rewarding seasonal workers. Sixteen states base employees’ benefits on a full year’s salary. Under current law, a seasonal worker in Connecticut earning $30,000 over the course of two calendar quarters would get the same amount of unemployment benefits as a full time worker earning $60,000 over four quarters. This reform will provide relief to businesses, especially farms, that hire a lot of seasonal workers.
  • Freezing the maximum weekly benefit rate for three years. The maximum benefit rate is allowed to increase by $18 every year. Freezing this for three years could save as much as $10 million per year.

Connecticut state lawmakers—please act now on HB 5367. It is very rare that you are presented with the opportunity to help literally every business in your district.
Your action will have no state fiscal impact other than to promote the growth of jobs in Connecticut and improve the state’s business climate.
Plus, you will help to preserve an important economic safety net for future workers.
Sign on to co-sponsor HB 5367 and urge your leadership to take action on this bill.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede


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