Ohio needs to reform its unemployment compensation system, but House Bill 382 would create more problems than solutions.
The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill to reform the state’s unemployment compensation system, but House Bill 382 is not all that it seems. Championed by Rep. Kirk Schuring, House Bill 832 proposes to charge employees new premiums in 2019, in order to generate $125 million that same year, and gradually increase the premiums to collect $140 million by 2030, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Depending on earnings and frequency in the system, workers could be charged premiums from $5.50 to $112.20 per year.
House Bill 382 intends to fix the state’s broken unemployment fund, but “simply [increasing] the amount of money into the system is not comprehensive reform,” according to NFIB/Ohio Legislative Director Chris Ferruso’s member call to action. Ferruso identified several issues with the bill, including unequal treatment of employees by charging different rates depending on the employer’s experience rating. Ferruso also pointed to the potential for the bill to “create liability for employers who erroneously withhold or do not withhold co-pay on behalf of an employee.” According to the call to action, “NFIB/Ohio believes this bill significantly adds more revenue while doing little to better align benefits with economic realities.”
If lawmakers are willing to discuss reforming Ohio’s unemployment compensation system, then there are several meaningful reforms that legislators should address. First, reducing weeks of eligibility and weeks of benefit would be a great place to start and would remove logistical challenges. NFIB/Ohio suggests freezing benefits until a minimum safe level is achieved, and repealing the dependency provision, which is costly to administer. Lastly, NFIB/Ohio promotes adjusting the taxable wage base to $11,000 and revoking the offer of employee co-pay or assessment, because it’s difficult to administer and creates liability for employers.