Missouri Bill Reining In Jobless Benefits Resurfaces

Date: February 28, 2017

In 2015, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill that would have tied the duration of unemployment benefits to the state unemployment rate. However, the bill was vetoed by former Gov. Jay Nixon, then overruled by the Legislature, then struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court because of the timing of the Senate’s veto override. Now, legislators are trying again.

Under the proposal, the length of unemployment compensation would be a sliding scale aligned with the state jobless rate. At the top end, if unemployment is at 9 percent or more, the benefit duration would be 20 weeks; at the lower end, unemployment benefits would last for 13 weeks if the unemployment rate is below 6 percent. Currently, Missouri unemployment is 4.7 percent.

The measure also establishes funding levels for the unemployment benefit trust fund to keep it on stable footing and avoid borrowing money from the federal government, which then incurs interest payments for employers. Once the fund hits two different benchmarks—$120 million above the current benchmark, and then $120 million more—employer tax rates would be reduced by 7 percent and then 12 percent.

During the Great Recession, Missouri was one of 35 states that faced unemployment benefit fund insolvency, resulting in higher taxes on businesses to replenish the funds. Since then, several states have made moves to rein in benefits and avoid repeating history, and now Missouri could join them. NFIB/MO supports this legislation.

Related Content: Small Business News | Economy | Missouri

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