O'Malley to pledge help on unemployment insurance
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will promise Thursday night to work with business leaders to find a "more sustainable solution" to a state employment insurance system under which tax rates are tripling next year for many Maryland companies.
The pledge is included in the governor's prepared remarks to a gathering of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, which is meeting in Cambridge. O'Malley provides no specifics in his speech, and aides said his administration is still reviewing several possible models for reform that will likely require legislative approval.
The currrent predicament is largely the result of a 2005 law that calls for an automatic review of the state's unemployment insurance fund every Sept. 30 to determine if it has enough cash to remain viable in the coming year. A formula is used to determine how much employers must pay to keep the fund solvent.
The economic downturn has taken a heavy toll on such funds in Maryland and other states around the country.
"This organization helped craft the 2005 legislation, which has had the unintended consequence of doubling down on the pain you're already feeling," O'Malley says in his prepared remarks. "There was a lot right about that legislation, which is providing much-needed assistance to those hardest hit by the recession. The Chamber deserves a lot of credit for your ... engagement on finding a workable solution. Therefore, I look foward to working with you on finding such a solution."
In his speech, O'Malley also outlines a "10-point strategy" for small businesses in Maryland. The initiatives, several of which are modest in scope, include streamlining the application process for small business applying for state financing and extending a set-aside of state contracts for small businesses.
O'Malley also pledges "to do even better" in bringing more small businesses into a newly created health insurance partnership.
November 5, 2009; 5:00 PM ET
Categories: Governor , John Wagner
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