Talk Business’s Roby Brock has a detailed explanation of the $330 million the state owes the federal government thanks to the depletion of its state unemployment tax assistance contributions. This is a problem that gets glossed over every time the state’s “balanced budgets” are mentioned.
According to Brock, the state typically has a balance of $200 million in the fund, but the recession has turned that surplus into a deficit. He further explains that while some legislators have presented proposals, no one is actually offering any leadership – including Governor Beebe.
State Senator Johnny Key, R-Mountain Home, has introduced a bill, SB 87, to tighten requirements for receiving unemployment benefits, especially for those fired for misconduct or criminal activity.
Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, has proposed legislation, HB 1057, which would take an additional half-percent of wages from workers – not employers – to shore up the fund. Altes has two other bills that would require greater scrutiny of those filing for unemployment.
Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, head of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee, is a vocal advocate of addressing the issue, but he doesn’t see a resolution coming together.
“I don’t know where we’re going. I don’t know if we’ll deal with it at all in this session,” Teague said, noting that Arkansas owes $518,000 in interest to date and its accruing daily.
You can read all of Brock’s post here.