The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a $3.7 billion bill on April 25 that would raise the balance of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and repay unemployment insurance debts to the federal government. The move would reduce the unemployment insurance tax burden on employers, which increased March 15 to help refill the fund following the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation differs from the smaller $2.7 billion bill passed in the Republican-controlled state Senate in February, which also would have expanded the trust fund, paid the state’s federal debt, and reduced taxes for employers. The $3.7 billion Democratic House bill includes a provision that would send $1,500 checks to about 667,000 individuals the state considered frontline workers during the pandemic. The House bill would also expand unemployment insurance eligibility to hourly school workers.
Members of both chambers will meet in a conference committee to attempt to negotiate a compromise between the $2.7 billion bill and the $3.7 billion bill.
Unemployment insurance is a term that refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.
The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.