Illinois lawmakers are delaying the deadline for when a deal must come together to pay off the state’s unemployment trust fund debt.
The state approved $2.7 billion from federal COVID-19 funds to pay down some of the $4.5 billion in debt, but there’s still $1.8 billion in debt remaining. State statute lays out a July 3 deadline for the remainder of the debt to be paid or else tax increases on businesses and benefit reductions for the unemployed would kick in.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said a deal is still being worked on.
“The whole point of an agreed bill process is that all the parties would come to the table, put something on the table to negotiate,” Pritzker said. “Again, that continues.”
Approved legislation moves the date when the tax increases and benefit cuts kick in to Jan. 1.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said it’s unacceptable that the debt lingers, especially since the state received $16 billion from federal taxpayers over the past two years.
“We’re just kicking the can down the road,” Rezin said during early morning debate Saturday. “Nothing is going to change. We’re just moving the speed bump from the summer to after the election. That’s what’s happening here. Let’s be honest here.”
The continued debt carries millions of dollars in interest that taxpayers are on the hook for.
State Sen. Win Stoller, R-Germantown Hills, said with record levels of inflation, it’s likely there will be a “painful recession” that Illinois will struggle with, especially with the unemployment fund in the red.
“Already billions of dollars in debt, already having higher taxes on our employers, already putting our employees in a situation of having fewer benefits when we enter a recession and have the related spike in unemployment,” Stoller said.
Still unknown is how much fraud there’s been. The Pritzker administration has yet to announce those totals.
This article was originally posted on Illinois ‘kicking the can’ on unemployment debt amid concerns of possible recession
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