Thousands of unemployed Kansas workers and struggling businesses will benefit from today's passage of House Bill 2374, which draws down $69 million in federal stimulus dollars for the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
The legislation, introduced by Representative Raj Goyle, D-Wichita, will make three revisions to the current unemployment insurance statute:
- Adopt an alternate wage base period to be used when an individual does not qualify for benefits using the standard wage base period. The wage base period is the time period used to determine if a worker filing for unemployment benefits may qualify.
- Provide benefits to workers seeking part-time employment. Although this long-standing practice has been the policy of Kansas for years, it requires codification in order to count toward federal requirements for stimulus money.
- Extend unemployment insurance benefits to cover workers while they receive state-approved job training. Kansas does not currently have a law of this nature in place, but there has been widespread support for enacting this provision because it is a positive reflection of what unemployment insurance is intended for: to supplement a worker's income as he/she receives additional training to help him/her advance.
"House Bill 2374 is a big win for both workers and businesses," said Goyle. "In March, Kansas endured 19 mass layoffs across the state, resulting in initial unemployment claims of over 2200 workers. This legislation will allow us to help those Kansans struggling in this difficult economic climate.
"Also, every penny in the UI Trust Fund earns approximately 4.82 percent in interest. The money we're drawing down through this bill will accumulate approximately an additional $24 million until the money is exhausted. The sooner we get this stimulus money to Kansas, the sooner we can reinstate tax breaks to businesses across the state."
# # #