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January 7, 2000

Facing strong Council opposition, bill to undercut part of '98 UI reform is vetoed

Oppositon from The Business Council helped defeat a bill that would have weakened a key employer-friendly provision of the unemployment insurance (UI) reform of 1998.

Governor Pataki vetoed the bill late last month. The Council had urged a veto in a Dec. 22 letter to the Pataki administration.

The bill would have undercut a new wage-reporting system that makes it easier to determine claimants' eligibility and benefits.

The state now uses wage data provided quarterly by employers to determine UI applicants' eligibility.

Previously, for each UI applicant, the state Department of Labor had to mail a single wage-request form to each of the applicants' employers in the previous 15 months. The department used returned forms to determine eligibility and benefits.

The vetoed bill would have let claimants insist that old criteria and methods for determining eligibility and benefit amounts also be used.

Because the old standards are based on weekly earnings, the new system could not have been used in some cases. This would have put New York in the unique position of having two separate UI systems operating simultaneously, said Chris Pugliese, The Council's UI specialist.

The new system was designed to save time and money for employers, employees and the state, and it has done so, Pugliese said. He noted that 48 other states already use wage-reporting systems, and the other, Michigan, has authorized one.