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Job providers from across the state show broad support for UI package

December 14, 2011

The Legislature took action this morning to attack Michigan’s $3.2 billion debt for its 100 percent employer-financed unemployment insurance (UI) system. The House Commerce Committee voted earlier today on Senate Bills 483, 484 and 806 which combine cost-saving reforms with funding solutions. The full House is expected to vote on the package as early as this afternoon.
Committee Chair Wayne Schmidt accepted nearly 300 cards from individual job providers in support of the comprehensive UI reform package.  
The package is supported by a broad coalition of job-providers as a fair and balanced solution that will ensure adequate benefits to individuals unemployed due to no fault of their own while keeping UI costs affordable for job providers and competitive with other states. Nearly 300 individual job providers and organizations from across the state voiced their support in committee for passage of a comprehensive solution, including: 
• Small Business Association of Michigan 
• Michigan Chamber of Commerce 
• Michigan Manufacturers Association 
• National Federation of Independent Business – Michigan 
• Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan 
• Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce 
• Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce 
• Lansing Chamber of Commerce 
• Michigan Association of Home Builders 
• Michigan Association of Independent Insurance Agents 
• Michigan Business and Professional Association 
• Michigan Grocers Association 
• Michigan Restaurant Association 
• Michigan Retailers Association 
The crisis in Michigan’s UI system was exacerbated by the recent economic downturn, which forced the state to borrow more than $3.2 billion from the federal government to fund UI benefits. Left unchecked, reimbursements of these federal funds, plus interest, will trigger higher, across-the-board state and federal UI taxes on job providers for years to come, and will not address the underlying issues that created the crisis.
The UI problem must be addressed because it impedes Michigan’s economic recovery and the ability of job-providers to get the unemployed back to work, creating a barrier to job growth and investment in Michigan. Senate Bills 483, 484 and 806 directly attack the $3.2 billion crisis by authorizing a bonding solution. These bills also reform the UI system by tackling many of the underlying issues that make Michigan’s UI system slower, more expensive and less effective than neighboring states, and similar transaction processes, including:
• Implementing strict penalties for claimants who scam or defraud the system; 
• Tightening eligibility rules for unemployment; 
• Adding requirements to ensure individuals are available for, and actively seeking, work; 
• Prohibiting claimants from refusing work because they can make a comparable amount on unemployment; and 
• Specifying UI fraud is a felony. 
Now is the time for the Legislature to act. Senate Bills 483, 484 and 806 address a critical issue that is a stumbling block to Michigan’s reinvention and legislators are urged to vote in support of this comprehensive solution to the current crisis in the UI system.
(What do you think of UI reform? Please leave a comment below or engage in the conversation on SBAM’s Facebook page or LinkedIn group.)
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