With a drastic increase to the Massachusetts unemployment insurance rate taking effect during the first quarter, House and Senate Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to freeze the unemployment insurance rate at its current level. The move comes after continued inaction from the Democratic-led Legislature to act on preventing an increase to the unemployment insurance rate paid by thousands of small businesses across the Commonwealth.
Led by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester), Republican lawmakers are attempting to prevent a $500 million exposure to businesses, should Democratic legislators fail to act on legislation protecting hardworking entrepreneurs across Massachusetts.
“By leveraging the freeze of our state’s unemployment rate as a means to obtain their desired minimum wage level, Democratic lawmakers have signaled their willingness to use the Commonwealth’s small businesses as a pawn in their political game,” said State Representative Brad Jones. “At this time, it is an extreme disservice to businesses throughout the Commonwealth to not consider this proposal separately based on its merit. A freeze of the unemployment insurance rate is imperative for both our state’s workforce and entrepreneurs. If not approved immediately, this increase will have a negative impact on our economy.”
The effort to prevent an increase to the state’s unemployment insurance rate comes six months after Republican legislators were successful in advocating for the repeal of the crippling technology tax which was approved by Democratic lawmakers. As was the case with the largest and broadest tax on computer and software services in the nation, an increase of 33% to the rate incurred by small businesses in regards to unemployment insurance will have a long-lasting and negative effect on the businesses that are the backbone of the Massachusetts economy.
“Freezing unemployment insurance rates is critical to the viability and sustainability of employers and jobs in our state, and if we don’t act now we will be risking serious damage to our economy,” said Senator Bruce Tarr. “The House and Senate may well continue to be divided over issues like the minimum wage, but there can be no doubt that we should act immediately on behalf of the commonsense a freeze represents.”
Having been filed in both the House and Senate, House Docket 4163, An Act Relative to the Unemployment Insurance Rate, awaits assignment to a legislative committee.