Pickett Votes to Improve Unemployment Compensation System in PA
In an effort to ensure that Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system remains in place for current and future recipients, Rep. Tina Pickett voted recently on legislation to make important reforms to the system.
“The way that Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system is designed allows it to be generous to its recipients,” Pickett said. “Unfortunately, that generosity has led us to borrowing more than $4 billion from the federal government. Debt payments will soon need to be made, and to ensure the UC system is intact for current and future beneficiaries, changes were needed to protect the integrity of the program.”
Under Senate Bill 1030, UC recipients would be required to actively look for work. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Pennsylvania is the only state that does not require claimants to actively seek work, or make a reasonable effort to obtain work. In fact, when compared to neighboring states, Pennsylvania has one of the highest average annual contributions per employee. Only New Jersey ranks higher.
Pickett emphasized this legislation is not designed to take away benefits from individuals who have been impacted by the recent economic recession and rightfully receive those payments, but to put in place common sense requirements that already exist in other states.
According to the federal government, Pennsylvania had $377 million in fraudulent and/or unrecoverable UC overpayments in 2009.
“Pennsylvania’s unemploy-ment compensation system does not have the checks and balances in place to ensure that only people who are entitled to benefits receive them,” Pickett noted. “This system is supposed to be designed to help those who lose their jobs because of circumstances beyond their control, and our laws need to reflect this.”
Pickett added that the reforms being made to the UC system not only will help the Commonwealth with its massive debt, but will also help ease the burden of business owners, who are paying more than $500 million a year in extra taxes due to the UC fund's insolvency. Pennsylvania ranks in the top 10 of states for unemployment taxes paid by employers, and 77 percent of businesses cited PA’s UC system as a deterrent to job creation.