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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: January 3, 2013 04:16 PM
From: Senator Christine M. Tartaglione
To: All Senate members
Subject: Co-Sponsorship: Unemployment Compensation Service Centers
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation which would supplement federal funding for administration of the Unemployment Compensation (UC) system with a portion of employees’ UC tax contributions.

Currently, UC claimants throughout Pennsylvania are experiencing difficulties in obtaining assistance with their UC benefits. The PA Department of Labor and Industry’s website for filing UC benefits is confusing and often rejects users from the system. As a result, claimants are forced to call the Department’s UC Call Service Centers to resolve problems with their UC benefits. Unfortunately, in most instances, when claimants call these centers, all phone lines are busy, and claimants spend hours, days and weeks redialing the designated service center phone number before they are able to reach an employee in one of these centers. As UC payments are often frozen until the benefit matter is resolved, many claimants wait weeks or months for their payments to resume or commence.

While federal funds are the sole source of funding for Pennsylvania’s UC administration, this funding has long been inadequate. Further, additional federal dollars provided during the recession to help states cope with rising claims and to administer federal extended benefit programs are now phasing out. This funding loss has already resulted in the recent closure of the Philadelphia UC Service Center, as well as the reduction of staff and hours at call centers throughout the state.

My legislation would supplement funding for the state’s UC administration with a portion of the existing employee tax contribution by directing no more than $10 million in annual employee contributions when the fund is low and no more than 40% when the fund is high for use in staffing service centers, workforce training and any necessary upgrades to claims filing systems. This would make the funding practices for Pennsylvania’s UC administration consistent with those of 14 other states that already supplement this funding.

Individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own should be able to receive UC benefits in a timely manner, so that they may support themselves and their families while looking for new employment. We must act now to correct current funding problems that are placing barriers between claimants and their benefits. By providing increased funding for the UC administration, UC Service Centers will receive the money necessary to hire additional employees that will be able to assist UC claimants. This will allow claimants to receive the assistance they require to obtain their UC benefits in a timely fashion. I hope you will help to rectify this matter by joining me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as SB281