|Posted:||March 29, 2017 12:20 PM|
|From:||Representative Rob W. Kauffman|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Unemployment Compensation Service & Infrastructure Improvement Fund|
|In the very near future, I will be introducing legislation to provide $15 million to the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF). This legislation is intended to temporarily alleviate service and operational disruptions in the UC system while the General Assembly evaluates a longer-term course of action.
As you are all aware, the lack of authorization for SIIF funding in 2017 resulted in approximately 500 furloughs across the UC system and major service disruptions for claimants and others who had to interact with the system. SIIF received almost $180 million from 2013 through 2016. Many of us believed this funding would be temporary, while others may have had the expectation that funding would be authorized on an ongoing basis. The Auditor General is conducting an audit of SIIF, and there are still many questions that need to be answered before we can come up with a long-term solution. My legislation is intended to provide short-term relief and set the stage for this important discussion.
My bill will provide $15 million to SIIF and allocate those dollars primarily for UC Service Center operations, tax services and appeals – the areas in the most need of relief. The Department of Labor and Industry will be require to spend the funds in a manner that provides consistent operational levels for at least 9 months – so that the General Assembly has adequate time to deliberate on this matter.
My bill will require the pending audit to be completed by June 1, and it will require that the department provide the House and Senate Labor and Industry Committee Chairmen with a plan to end reliance on SIIF and a separate request for funding for upgrades to the UC benefit delivery system. To monitor the spending of the $15 million, the department will be required to begin a separate accounting of SIIF dollars (something which has never been done), and monthly reports will be provided to the L&I Chairmen.
Taken together, this legislation will provide some relief from the service disruptions our constituents are experiencing while we get the information we need from the department and monitor their operations.
Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB1070