Welcome to the Wednesday, December 1, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Redistricting roundup—Connecticut and Illinois
- Do you know your state’s unemployment tax rate?
- New York’s Rep. Suozzi (D) announces a run for governor
The latest redistricting news
Last week, just before the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, Connecticut and Illinois became the latest to complete state legislative or congressional redistricting. Let’s take a look at what happened in both states.
Governor J.B. Pritzer (D) enacted new congressional districts on Nov. 24. In late October, the state House approved the maps 71-43 and the state Senate approved the maps 41-18. Illinois was apportioned 17 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one less than it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
According to The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Pearson, the maps place the following pairs of incumbents into the same district:
- U.S. Reps. Marie Newman (D) and Jesus Garcia (D)
- U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R) and Darin LaHood (R)
- U.S. Reps. Mary Miller (R) and Mike Bost (R)
After the legislature approved the new district boundaries on Oct. 29, Kinzinger announced he would not seek re-election in 2022. Additionally, Newman said she would seek re-election not against Garcia but Rep. Sean Casten (D), since Casten’s new district consists of many areas Newman represented before redistricting. Bost announced he would run for re-election in the 12th District on Oct. 29, while Miller has not yet declared her plans.
Congressional redistricting has been completed in 18 states and for 159 of the 435 districts (36.6%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Connecticut completed its state legislative redistricting process on Nov. 23, when the state’s Reapportionment Commission voted 8-0 in favor of new maps for the state’s 36 Senate districts. The Commission enacted new House maps on Nov. 18. These maps will be in effect for Connecticut’s 2022 state legislative elections.
The Reapportionment Commission, made up of four Democratic lawmakers, four Republican lawmakers, and a ninth member selected by the other commissioners, took over the redistricting process after the state’s Reapportionment Committee did not meet its Sept. 15 deadline. Census data was not delivered to the state until Sept. 16. Unlike the maps the committee would have adopted, the Reapportionment Commission’s maps did not need to win two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, allowing the Commission to enact its maps outright.
According to the CT Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas, “Passage of the Senate map came without debate in an 11-minute meeting conducted via Zoom, a reflection that the maps in Connecticut are resolved by negotiation.” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R) said, “It’s truly a bipartisan effort,” and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D) said, “We have a much better approach than most the country does on this.”
Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed in 22 states and for 771 of 1,972 state Senate districts (39.1%) and 2,032 of 5,411 state House districts (37.6%).
What is your state’s unemployment tax rate?
Unemployment benefits have been a steady topic in the news cycle throughout the past few years. Our Policy team has been compiling state-by-state comparative data on unemployment insurance programs.
First, let’s define an unemployment tax. State unemployment taxes are taxes employers must pay to support the joint federal-state unemployment insurance program. These taxes are also known as SUTA taxes (named after the State Unemployment Tax Act), state unemployment insurance (SUI) taxes, or reemployment taxes.
Employers usually pay a percentage of an employee’s salary in SUTA taxes up to a certain amount, known as the wage base. The wage base is the maximum amount of wages per employee on which an employer must pay unemployment taxes. The SUTA tax rate varies by state and by the employer’s experience rating. This lets states collect unemployment taxes from employers according to the amount of unemployment insurance benefits drawn by their former employees. In general, the more unemployment claims an employer has, the higher their experience rating and unemployment tax rate.
For example, Alabama’s wage base is $8,000 and the maximum SUTA tax rate is 6.8% (for employers with many unemployment claims). Consequently, the maximum SUTA tax an Alabama employer could pay per employee would be $544.
New employers usually start out paying a flat SUTA tax rate for the first few years until they become experience-rated.
Here is a summary of the range of SUTA taxes in 2021:
- Regular rates range from 0% for employers with the lowest experience rating in seven states up to 20.6% of each employee’s base wage in Arizona for employers with the highest experience ratings.
- The new employer rate ranges from 0.55% in South Carolina to 3.69% in Pennsylvania.
- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee have the lowest wage bases at $7,000.
- Washington has the highest wage base at $56,500.
To learn more about state unemployment taxes and the federal-state unemployment program, click the link below.
Rep. Suozzi announces gubernatorial campaign
On Nov. 29, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) announced he will make a run for governor in 2022, becoming the latest member of the U.S. House of Representatives to seek a different office next year.
Suozzi represents New York’s 3rd Congressional District. He was first elected in 2016.
Fifteen members of Congress have announced they are running for other offices, including seven Republicans and eight Democrats. Like Suozzi, Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) have announced plans to run for governor in their respective states.
Overall, 35 members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 29 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election.