Top state officials answer members’ questions, discuss the road ahead
Colorado has its work cut out for it. It is one of only nine states still owing the federal government money for loans it took out to keep unemployment checks going to those in need of them.
To date, the state owes the federal government more than $1 billion with the interest clock ticking at $43,000 a day.
NFIB Colorado was pleased to organize a special conference call [see video below] for its members with Patrick Meyers, chief economic recovery officer and executive director of the state’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade, and Daniel Salvetti, strategy and analytics manager for OEDIT, to discuss the current condition of Colorado’s unemployment insurance trust fund, UI tax increases, and the future of the fund.
Meyers led off with an explanation of why UI premiums started going up this year, and, notably, said the pandemic wasn’t the only reason. Colorado’s keeping the wage base for calculating UI taxes so low for so long was also a culprit.
He reminded NFIB members of Gov. Jared Polis’ request of the Legislature to spend $600 million ($500 million from the General Fund, plus $100 million from federal ARPA funds) to pay down the outstanding UI balance but cautioned that finally paying off the loans was a few years down the road.
“Getting back to $0 doesn’t actually cut off the solvency surcharge,” Meyers said. “You have to have … $1.2 billion positive in the trust fund before the surcharge cuts off.” As a small-business owner for 20 years, Meyers empathized with the many difficulties Main Street entrepreneurs are facing. “I know exactly where they are coming from,” but he did note, “When we started talking to the business community about the UI trust fund, there wasn’t a lot of agreement, which surprised me a little bit because it’s kind of a big deal, but people weren’t talking about it much.”
Salvetti added, “The governor’s budget proposal looks at both the long-term health of the trust fund and the short-term relief to employers. Just dumping $600 million into the trust fund isn’t going to get that short-term immediate relief to employers, so what we’re also proposing this year, as part of the overall request, is that the Legislature suspend the solvency surcharge in 2023.” Salvetti also explained why UI fraud had very little impact on the trust fund.
“This was one of the most informative conference calls we’ve offered our members,” said NFIB Colorado State Director Tony Gagliardi. “I highly encourage members who couldn’t joined join to watch the half-hour video below. I believe you’ll get a great perspective on the whole UI issue and have a few of your questions answered.”
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