Expansion of jobless insurance plan harmful

May 26, 2009
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Editor,

I’m writing today to express my disappointment that my former colleagues in the state House recently approved two bills that would permanently expand the state’s unemployment insurance program, in exchange for a one-time gift of federal  stimulus money.

One bill would allow former part-time employees to collect unemployment compensation while refusing full-time work, while another would allow laid-off workers to have an extra 26 weeks of unemployment benefits if they’re enrolled in job-training programs.

The bills will now go to the state Senate. I urge that chamber to put a stop to this effort before it does permanent damage to our state’s business community.

I understand how difficult the current recession has been for Michigan citizens, and how important unemployment benefits have been for people out of work.

But the current bills would actually inhibit the ability of employers to create jobs in the future and put unemployed people back to work.

Michigan’s unemployment system is completely funded by job providers, many of whom are struggling right now. By making them pay higher unemployment insurance premiums, they will have less money to spend on job creation and payroll in the future.

Unlike the one-time stimulus payment from Washington, D.C., the expansion of Michigan’s unemployment system would be permanent. It’s estimated that the changes in the system would cost the state’s business community a cumulative $70 million per year.

There couldn’t possibly be a worse time for government to increase the financial burden on Michigan businesses. Small businesses with small budgets would really struggle with the extra costs.

These bills may be well-intentioned, but they would have the practical effect of kicking businesses when they’re down. That will do nothing to help our state grow and expand its economy in the long run.

Bill Huizenga
Former state representative
Zeeland

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