Following the failure of the House to pass an amendment to use $1 billion in federal funds and surplus state revenue for the unemployment insurance trust fund, the State Senate also rejected an identical amendment. Governor Charlie Baker had originally proposed $1 billion earlier in the year in his supplemental budget, but House and Senate leaders decided only half was necessary to provide small business UI tax relief.
The most frustrating part of the Senate debate was the misinformation claiming that the fund was thriving with nearly $3 billion on hand. What was omitted from that comment: the state is required to pay back the federal government for money borrowed in 2020 to keep the fund solvent, must credit employers for the first quarter bills of 2021, must cover overpayments, and must pay future claims.
But there was an effort to restore Governor Baker’s proposed $1 billion. Senators Bruce Tarr and Diana DiZoglio both filed amendments increasing the allocation from $500 million to $1 billion noting the struggles small businesses faced throughout the pandemic. They remarked these layoffs were not the fault of employers but rather the state mandated shutdowns and restrictions and the state had a responsibility to help replenish the trust fund. Watch Senator DiZoglio’s remarks in support of small businesses here.
In the end, only five senators supported the amendment: Senators Tarr, DiZoglio, Fattman, Moore, and O’Connor.
Voting against the amendment to provide small businesses additional UI tax relief: Brownsberger, Chang-Diaz, Comerford, Crighton, Cyr, Feeney, Friedman, Gomez, Jehlen, Kennedy, Lewis, Montigny, Moran, Rausch, Rush, Timilty, Brady, Chandler, Collins, Creem, Cronin, DiDomenico, Eldridge, Finegold, Gobi, Hinds, Keenan, Lesser, Lovely, Pacheco, Rodrigues, and Velis.