Executives oppose jobless benefits bill
Senate hearing set for next week
Legislation to expand unemployment eligibility and benefits requirements so the state can qualify for $126.8 million in federal stimulus funds is slated for a hearing at 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Senate Finance Committee.
Many executives, including those at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's annual Business Day in Annapolis on Friday, oppose the proposal. The bill, filed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach at the request of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), would provide $83 million in reductions to businesses' payments to the unemployment insurance trust fund this year to help employers "preserve and create jobs without further jeopardizing the fund's solvency," the legislation states.
But leaders of the Maryland chamber said the aid would come at a price, estimating it would cost employers almost $20 million per year.
"We don't want to see a quick fix that would lead to long-term liabilities," said Austin J. Slater Jr., chairman of the chamber and president and CEO of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.
A companion House bill did not have a hearing scheduled as of Monday.
Slater, who met with House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis on Friday, said Busch was open to alternatives proposed by chamber leaders.
The insurance trust fund legislation had not attracted any cosponsors by Monday. In contrast, other bills filed late last week by Miller and Busch at the request of O'Malley that would allow employers a $3,000 tax credit for every unemployed Maryland resident they hire had attracted numerous cosponsors.