Employers of employers devastated by some of Washington’s epidemics could see up to $ 600 million in new tax breaks to improve the processing of unemployment claims and prevent unemployment fraud.
But the move has been criticized by business groups who say tax cuts are too small, by labor lawyers who say the state has already cut employers’ taxes by more than $ 1 billion this year.
Last week, Senate Bill 5478, which uses $ 500 million in state funds to cut unemployment taxes for companies that have suffered major cuts from the epidemic, faced tax increases in 2022, an additional state-paid tax. to cover unemployment benefits. House Size, HB 1568, will cut those taxes by $ 600 million.
The aid is intended to save Washington’s “most vulnerable” employers from another obstacle to economic recovery, said state Sen. Karen Keizer, D-Des Moines, co-sponsor of SB 5478, chair of the Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee. ,
The events are part of a broader initiative in the և Senate գործընթաց House budget process that uses both state and federal epidemic funds to address the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on the state unemployment system.
For example, SB 5478 will also invest $ 82 million in state funds last spring in return for $ 600 million in unemployment benefits stolen during an unemployment fraud, Kaiser said.
Everyone said. “We are spending nearly $ 600 million in state aid to help businesses with our unemployment insurance program,” Kaiser said.
Some measures to improve the state unemployment system will also receive funding for President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion $ 1.9 trillion bailout plan for President Biden, signed in March.
More than $ 10 million in federal funds will be used to promote Security Department (ESD) anti-fraud measures and upgrade frequently overloaded telephone systems with cloud-based technology.
Another $ 22.3 million would help the Administrative Hearing Office with its appeal claims by plaintiffs who have received benefits denied by ESD.
But the proposed measures have been criticized.
While labor advocates have welcomed more funding to streamline ESD lawsuits, some have criticized the huge tax cuts that came less than two months after lawmakers approved more than $ 1 billion in unemployment tax benefits for businesses.
The $ 500 million tax cut in the Senate “probably went better.” [things like] “Provide immediate assistance to employees or fund the types of infrastructure that are going to employ people in a more systematic way or create new opportunities,” said O’Kendon, a lobbyist for the Washington State Labor Council.
Business groups have their concerns. The $ 500 million tax cut on SB 5478, from just $ 1.5 billion to $ 2 billion, is part of a rise in state-sponsored unemployment tax due to the epidemic, according to the Washington Construction Industry Association (BIAW). “We do not think $ 500 million is enough,” said BIAW lobbyist Tom Quietzia.
Some business groups have argued that lawmakers are making demands that arbitrarily exclude many employers from any tax benefits.
Businesses could see a modest increase in tax cuts as House and Senate lawmakers negotiate a final measure. (The House version also includes $ 250 million in small business assistance).
And Kaiser said lawmakers could return in January to approve more tax breaks. “I am not saying this is the end of our work,” he said. Kaiser, for example, is looking at more long-term initiatives for next year aimed at strengthening the labor market through student programs.
But in the meantime, Kaiser said some lawmakers do not want to spend more dollars on any programs until the epidemic is over.
“We do not know what the epidemic is going to do in the future,” Kaiser said. “It’s a devil’s virus, we can go back to our heels next fall. We do not know. So we will not spend it all. “