BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker had hoped the Legislature would act quickly on a business relief bill he filed last month, but lawmakers were unable to get the proposal across the finish line before the last session ended, prompting Baker to restart his push Wednesday.
Baker announced he would refile a bill later in the afternoon freezing the rate schedule for unemployment insurance trust fund contributions, softening the blow from a nearly 60 percent average increase to a roughly 17 percent hike.
The new rates kicked into effect when the calendar flipped to 2021, triggered to keep the unemployment fund above water amid massive demand for joblessness aid, but Baker said his legislation would charge employers a lower cost retroactively once bills are due.
“While we wish this legislation could have been passed before the end of the last legislative session, we’re committed to providing this important relief for employers early this year and to ensure the solvency of the UI Trust Fund,” Baker said. “To ensure we provide timely relief to employers, we’re going to continue to urge the Legislature to act on this bill by early March, which is when rate notices will be issued.”
The original bill cleared two committees in the final days of the 2019-2020 session, but never emerged from the House Ways and Means Committee during the last flurry of activity.
Baker’s legislation, which does not yet have a bill number for the 2021-2022 lawmaking session, would also authorize issuing special obligation bonds to repay the more than $2.2 billion in federal loans Massachusetts receive to keep its unemployment fund solvent.