Eric Bradner has an article in the Evansville Courier Press that sums up what legislators have on their plate to end the session. The biggest issue is unemployment insurance. The UI fund was ignored for years and went bankrupt. The Republican Senate and the Democratic House agreed on a fix in 2009. Part of the solution involved higher taxes on the employers. The Senate Republicans, at the urging of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, I believe, sought to undo that fix – at least temporarily. The House did them one better and proposed a bill that undid the compromise altogether. The UI fund continues to be empty and Indiana is paying its unemployed benefits by borrowing from the federal government. If legislators don’t come to an agreement, the 2009 fix will go into effect.
House Democrats are looking for some of the following to go along with the Republican version:
Topping that list is enhanced enforcement and harsher penalties on businesses that misclassify regular employees as independent contractors in order to skip out on payroll and unemployment taxes.
Democrats also want to remove the requirement that jobless benefit recipients apply for one job per week. The want to increase unemployment benefits in order to receive $148 million in federal stimulus funds. They’re seeking “claw-back” methods to recoup incentives given to businesses that fail to live up to their job-creation promises.
They’re also asking for items such as a tax credit that would give businesses that employ fewer than 150 people a $3,000 credit for each worker they hire through 2012, up to a maximum of $100,000; directions for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to focus its attention on counties stung the worst by job loss; the allowance of businesses that employ fewer than 35 workers to qualify for certain tax credits; a tax credit for new businesses; and more.
Caught up in these negotiations are some other bills, most importantly to my local situation, one that would allow schools flexibility to use other funds to cover operating expenses – this would mitigate the need to cut so many teachers which has arisen due to the earlier decision to fund schools with the more volatile sales & income taxes instead of property taxes.
Bauer was particularly emphatic that House Bill 1367, to help schools cope with the budget crunch most are facing, should pass.
“That bill ought to go forward, period,” Bauer said. “We should continue to work on the unemployment bill if we can. If we can get a compromise, that’d be good. If we can’t, at least we’ve solved two or three problems and not leave two or three on the table because someone is upset about one not being solved — the unemployment bill.”
Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said Republicans are concerned that if other issues are voted upon first, there is nothing to keep Democrats at the bargaining table to negotiate the unemployment bill.
“We’re going to try to reach an agreement on all those things and reach resolution on all of the issues,” Kenley said. “But we want to do it together.”