The recession was a difficult time for Ohioans and their families, forcing many to turn to Ohio’s unemployment compensation system when they found themselves faced with that unexpected layoff. Our unemployment compensation system is there for exactly those unfortunate occasions, and it works as a safety-net until individuals are able to regain their footing.


But what happens when we don’t have a balanced and sustainable system? Well, during the recession we were faced with exactly that dilemma, and it resulted in needing to borrow millions from the federal government just to ensure Ohioans were able to receive their benefits.


As we pulled ourselves out of the economic turmoil of the recession, we quickly found ourselves faced with a hefty debt because our state’s unemployment system was not adequately prepared for the economic downturn.


Since 2012, the state has been penalized for not having paid off the remainder of this debt, a bill that is predominantly footed by Ohio businesses. These penalties were set to increase again next year, resulting in a 300 percent total increase of businesses’ unemployment taxes.


For Ohio companies, and small businesses in particular, this exorbitant annual increase has had a terrible impact on companies’ revenue. At a certain point, we must say “enough is enough,” and help our businesses return to a manageable tax bill. Last month, the Ohio legislature stepped up to the plate and did exactly that.


Together we found a way to spare businesses $315 million in tax penalties by paying off the remainder of the debt. Now, rather than paying $168 per employee for unemployment compensation taxes, next year businesses will be able to return the significantly less $42 per employee price tag.


The job, however, is not complete. Our work continues as we try to find a way to restructure our unemployment compensation system so that it can be self-sustaining during future economic declines. We must work toward creating the best possible unemployment system, and that includes the ability to pay benefits without borrowing funds.


I plan to work hard as your state representative to ensure that we achieve the best possible compromise, one that creates a balanced system without adding undue burdens to employers or taxpayers.


In the meantime, however, I am very much looking forward to seeing the positive impact that will be seen throughout southeast Ohio as a result of paying off the unemployment compensation debt. This will certainly be a boom for employers, employees and our southeast economy as a whole.

 
 
 
  
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