Archive for Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kansas Senate to debate cut in jobless benefits

March 4, 2010


— A bill easing the pain for Kansas businesses facing a huge tax increase easily won approval Thursday in the state Senate after its Republican majority backed away from proposed cuts in benefits for jobless workers.

The measure, HB 2676 and approved 39-0, rewrites a Kansas law that otherwise would force a $209 million increase this year in taxes businesses pay into a state trust fund that finances unemployment benefits. Record claims last year depleted the fund, and Kansas must borrow from the federal government to pay all this year’s claims.

Business owners and groups complained to legislators because firms with little or no history of claims from former workers faced the highest percentage tax increases. The bill would reduce businesses’ tax burden by $43 million this year and nearly $64 million in 2011, targeting firms with little or no claims history.

Some GOP senators said the state also must trim benefits to stabilize the unemployment trust fund. They proposed changes that would have cost jobless workers $56 million over two years.

Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson called those proposals “unacceptable.” Republicans in both chambers took his statement as a veto threat and worried that the tax relief for businesses would be jeopardized.

During the Senate’s debate, Republicans helped strip out the proposals to cut benefits on a voice vote before passing the bill. It returns to the House, which passed it last month in a slightly different form. Leaders expect a quick resolution of both chambers’ differences.

Parkinson praised the Senate’s action.

Under a 2007 law, the taxes businesses pay to finance the unemployment trust fund fluctuate. If trust fund balances are high, rates drop; if the trust fund is depleted, rates rise again.

The state began 2009 with $568 million in the trust fund and collected $198 million in taxes from 69,500 employers during the year. But it paid $766 million in benefits.

Kansas began borrowing money from the federal government last month, with the total so far at about $15 million. The state had planned to collect $407 million in taxes from businesses this year, and some legislators feared many firms would stop hiring or lay off workers.

“The outflow of benefits is really killing us here,” said Senate Business and Labor Committee Chairwoman Susan Wagle, a Republican also from Wichita.


Bruce Bertsch 8 years ago

Makes perfect sense...balance the state budget on the backs of the unemployed.

tolawdjk 8 years ago

Let me get this straight. The Legislature wants to cut benefits to the unemployed because the unsuccessful businesses that had to cut the workers in the first place aren't successful enough to pay their taxes?

getreal 8 years ago

What? Another tax break to big business while we walk all over the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, and Kansas school children?

The Republican leadership in the legislature has jumped off a cliff with with their tax breaks and they want the rest of us to act as their parachute.

Oh well, as long as Koch Industries is happy, what do the rest of us matter.

William Weissbeck 8 years ago

Kansas can join the idiots in Indiana who lowered the unemployment insurance premiums paid by employers during the "good times" only the find that the fund was depleted because of the recession. Now they have to raise the employer tax. Don't lower payments, but you can eliminate those who are seasonally unemployed - construction workers.

finance 8 years ago

As I said in another venue, only one more example of immorality in government. What's happening here is immoral; what's happening to public schools is immoral; what's happening to higher education is immoral; what's happening to society's most vulnerable and incapacitated citizens is immoral. I am disgusted and have nothing more to say other than I am ashamed of and embarrassed for Kansas. No longer the laughingstock of the nation--now Kansas is the worst example of the universe for inhumanity and stupidity.

Rainydaze49 8 years ago

I'm not surprised. Hope everyone has picked a new state to live in cuz KS is goin down the tubes. And fast.

rbwaa 8 years ago

"right to work" means right to be fired for no reason

JHOK32 8 years ago

It's the same old, same old. The big businesses get all the help they want while the little guy who has lost his job, his home, retirement, health insurance, etc, loses his last strand of dignity. Our great & wonderful Republican - led congress doesn't give a rat's butt about the average Kansan on the street. We should vote them all out of office & let them live these indignities for a few years & then see what they have to say about it. What gets me the most is that the Republican Party likes to think of itself as "the Christian party." I thought "Christians" were suppose to be compassionate, guess that attribute is now blown out of the water (actually it has never existed within the Republican Party - Money is the real God, & lots of it!!!).

Commenting has been disabled for this item.