Lost Opportunity on Unemployment Reform
A bill making much-needed reforms to the state’s unemployment compensation system went far in the legislative process this year, but faced an uncertain fate even if it had made it all the way through.
HB 5367 featured four long-overdue reforms to the unemployment benefit system, including:
- Raised the minimum earnings to qualify for unemployment benefits from $600 to $2,000
- Required claimants to post their resumes online to receive benefits after six consecutive weeks of unemployment
- Based benefits on an employee’s annual salary rather than two highest quarters, to avoid inequitably rewarding seasonal workers
- Froze the maximum weekly benefit rate for three years
The state Department of Labor presented the biggest opposition to these common sense reforms.
The agency believes the bill restricts its negotiation room on plans next year to make “comprehensive reforms” to the state unemployment system.
They have indicated that their proposed reforms would include unemployment tax increases on Connecticut businesses.
Despite the DOL’s opposition, the House was poised to approve HB 5367 before it got tied up in the end-of-session bill crush and died in the Senate.
The reforms remain the correct solution to our unemployment compensation system challenges, and Connecticut state lawmakers should pursue adopting them in the 2017 legislative session.
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