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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Joseph Egan and Nelson Albano sponsored to stave off an unemployment tax increase on New Jersey businesses was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-2624) reduces the unemployment insurance tax rates that would be imposed on employers during the fiscal year that starts July 1. Because the UI trust fund is in deficit, the tax rate, under current law, would increase starting on July 1 to the highest tax rates set by the law, unless the law is changed.

Employers would pay an average of $400 more per employee, an increase of 52 percent. Under the bill, the UI tax schedule would only be allowed to increase one increment next fiscal year, instead of the multi-increment jump otherwise required.

Egan and Albano said they are committed to protecting unemployed New Jerseyans from seeing their current unemployment benefits cut, but also want to protect businesses from the scheduled increase in their unemployment insurance taxes. Gov. Chris Christie has proposed a plan that would cut benefits for the unemployed and risk federal funding to current and future beneficiaries.

“We need a workable agreement that doesn’t risk federal funding that has proven so valuable to New Jersey families hit hard by this recession and struggling to make ends meet,” said Egan (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “A plan that ends up cutting benefits for all out-of-work New Jerseyans would just add more pain to an already difficult situation. This bill meets the needs of both workers and businesses.”

“Finding a way to help the businesses that employ our residents and keep our economy moving has been paramount,” said Albano (D-Cumberland/Cape May/Atlantic) “Under this bill, we do not hurt workers nor risk the federal help that has proven so vital to so many.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Labor Committee chaired by Egan. It now goes to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a vote.

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