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February 16, 2000

Bill addresses labor concern and preserves key '98 reforms that save business millions

Bill addresses labor concern and preserves key '98 reforms that save business millions

Governor Pataki has signed into law a bill that modifies the state's 18-month-old unemployment insurance (UI) system while preserving key elements of the historic UI reforms of 1998.

The law is designed to ensure that a small number of workers denied benefits after the 1998 reforms regain eligibility. These are typically workers who earn a high percentage of their income in one quarter in construction, tourism, and similar seasonal industries.

The new law caps the "high-quarter" amount used to calculate UI eligibility, ensuring that workers who earn most of their income in one quarter are eligible.

Last month, Governor Pataki vetoed a bill designed in part to address that concern. The Business Council had strongly opposed that bill, which would have undercut the new wage-reporting system that makes it easier to determine claimants' eligibility and benefits.

The bill signed Tuesday followed discussions facilitated by the Pataki administration in which many parties, including the state AFL-CIO and The Business Council, sought a solution that would address labor concerns without gutting the UI reforms.

Since the 1998 reforms, employers with relatively stable employment records have seen a 68 percent decline in their UI tax liability and now file millions of fewer forms each year, according to Chris Pugliese, The Council's UI specialist.

Click here for the Governor's press release.