MILAM, DeANGELO, BARNES & EGAN BILLS TO CONTROL WORKER AND EMPLOYER TAXES & PROTECT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Egan, Wayne DeAngelo, Peter J. Barnes III and Matthew Milam to control worker and employer taxes and protect unemployment help for New Jerseyans was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bills:
· Give the state authority to lower temporary disability benefit contribution rates by employees commencing in 2012 (A-3792). Sponsored by Milam (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland).
“Giving the state authority to annually adjust the disability benefits rate will prevent excessive accumulations that have sometimes resulted in the diversion of significant amounts of monies from the fund for another use,” Milam said. “If, as has occurred during most years, total contributions paid into the fund substantially exceed total benefits paid out of it, this bill would cause a reduction in tax rates for workers.”
· Require that benefit instructions provided by each employer to a worker at the time the worker becomes unemployed include information on the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits (A-3794). Sponsored by DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Barnes (D-Middlesex).
“We must take advantage of every opportunity we can to keep out-of-work New Jerseyans afloat while the economy rebounds,” DeAngelo said. “We cannot turn our backs on a simple step that can extend benefits, and we must ensure workers who suddenly find themselves unemployed understand the basics of filing for vital assistance.”
“Ensuring a worker who finds themselves turning to unemployment benefits understands the importance of a timely benefits filing is commonsense,” Barnes said. “In these tough economic times, we don’t want to see anyone lose benefits because the rules were unclear.”
· Reduce the unemployment insurance tax rates that will be imposed on employers during fiscal years 2012 and 2013 (A-3819). Sponsored by Egan and supported by businesses.
“Preserving a healthy and viable unemployment trust fund while ensuring continued assistance for out-of-work New Jerseyans and keeping New Jersey as an affordable place to do business is a sacred trust and an absolute must,” Egan said. “These measures are an important step toward ensuring we meet those goals for the benefit of workers and businesses.”
Under the Milam bill, the annual adjustments in the contribution rate are designed to prevent excessive accumulations in the state disability benefits fund.
In past years, large surpluses in the fund have sometimes resulted in the diversion of significant amounts of monies from the fund to the general state budget.
Since 1994, $748 million has been diverted from the fund, with the most recent diversion occurring in the current fiscal year.
If, as has occurred during most years, total contributions paid into the fund substantially exceed total benefits paid out of the fund, the provisions of this bill would cause a reduction in tax rate for workers.
The Egan bill would:
· Reducing the unemployment insurance (UI) tax rates that would be imposed on employers during fiscal years 2012 and 2013; and
· Modify, for all years after FY 2011, the UI trust fund reserve ratios which set employer UI tax rates in such a manner that larger reserves are required in the UI trust fund than under the current law before employer UI taxes are reduced.
The bill implements the recommendations made by the Governor’s UI Task Force.
The bills were released by the Assembly Labor Committee.