The Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee is one of the General Assembly’s interim study committees — a legislative committee that meets when the General Assembly is not in session and studies matters of concern to the legislature. The Committee’s report is available here (pdf).
A recurring topic around here (after almost 9 years of this blog, sometimes they all feel like recurring topics) has been this rhetoric about how Indiana has been a fiscally responsible budget balancer, the federal government is awful and fiscally irresponsible, and why don’t we have another tax cut? A rejoinder has been, “hey, didn’t we borrow piles of money from the feds for our Unemployment Insurance program?” The committee received information relevant to that debate.
According to testimony provided to the Committee:
As of August 2013, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 8.1%, the 26th consecutive month Indiana’s rate has exceeded the national rate.
The federal government is charging Indiana 2.57% per
month year on the Unemployment Insurance loan. Because of the state’s outstanding loan by the federal government, Indiana employers are paying an additional $63 per employee in 2013 and, in 2014, will pay an additional $84 per employee. The loan is scheduled to be outstanding until 2017.
There was also discussion about use of debit cards for unemployment benefits; use of direct deposit for such benefits; and, something that caught my eye, the concept of a “work sharing” program. Work Sharing would allow an employer to reduce hours and wages of an entire group or location instead of firing people; the employer would pay the employees for hours actually worked and the employee would additionally receive some unemployment benefits to offset the reduction. The devil would really be in the details there; I could see it being kind of good or kind of awful.