LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Michigan businesses will have to kick in an extra $500 per employee to boost the state’s unemployment fund.
And now a key Republican lawmaker is talking about the future of the state director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency, who has been under fire for months.
Skubick: “Do you fear that it is only a matter of time before the state comes to your members asking for more money for the unemployment fund?”
John Walsh, Michigan Manufacturers Association: “We are keeping an eye on that, Tim. There’s been an extra drain on that fund.”
A drain on the fund is an understatement. With a COVID-19 induced jobless rate hovering around 20%, millions of dollars have been drained from the $2.5 billion state unemployment fund.
And now that fund has dipped between that level and that means businesses across the state, from the major manufacturers to the mom and pop stores will be taxed an additional $500 per employee to build the fund back up.
Meanwhile the UIA director Steve Gray continues to be under legislative fire for a backlog of ten to twelve weeks in getting jobless checks in the mail.
Rep. Matt Hall’s Oversight Committee is investigating Mr. Gray’s problem.
“The lack of responsiveness from UIA,” said Re. Matt Hall. “I think they have a huge communication problem also. And for many people they’re still waiting ten or 12 weeks.”
Rep. Hall and Sen. Aric Nesbitt have a joint House and Senate committee looking for answers and some have suggested that one answer might be to fire the director.
On that Mr. Hall concludes the waiting for checks could get worse.
“Firing the director right now in the middle of this, I think would probably make it worse,” adds Rep. Hall. “If you back a huge shakeup at the top you’d probably wait longer.”
The governor signed legislation last week to hire 500 additional employees to work on the huge backlog of unemployment applications.