House to Vote on Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill

Rep. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), a member of the House Labor and Industry Committee, supports the passage of Senate Bill 1030 which aims to reform the current unemployment compensation benefits system.

“The amount of benefits paid out from the Unemployment Trust Fund last year, and this year, will exceed the amount of revenues brought in by the unemployment compensation taxes,” said Aument. “Reform is required to ensure that our loans from the federal government are paid back, that recipients will continue to receive their benefits and so that employers can hire and continue to grow our economy.”

The bill, which was reported out of committee last Tuesday includes measures that will:

  • Require an active job search for participants-Pennsylvania is the only state where an active job search is not a requirement to collect benefits.
  • Increase the minimum weekly benefit rate from $50 to $116, which is 16 times the current minimum wage rate.
  • Create a severance pay offset that would prohibit individuals who receive a severance pay in excess of $11,155 to collect benefits.

Last week, new language was added to the bill by the House Labor and Industry Committee. The amendments change eligibility benefits for individuals who voluntarily quit their job and define the term “willful misconduct” when considering eligibility for benefits.

In addition to allowing recipients to continue receiving federally funded extended unemployment benefits, the bill would cut back on the $137 million in annual costs.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Trust Fund is insolvent and approximately $4 billion has been borrowed from the U.S. Department of Labor to finance benefit pay-outs since 2009.

Federal unemployment benefits expired on June 11 for more than 135,000 out-of-work Pennsylvanians, but according the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry there is still time to get the necessary legislation to the governor’s desk before a lapse in pay-outs occurs.

“There is a one-week delay in the processing of payments through the department which gives us a period of time after the June 11 deadline to get the legislation passed,” said Aument. “The bill is also retroactive, so there will be no loss of benefits for currently eligible recipients.”

Senate Bill 1030 is scheduled to be voted on in the House this week.

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