Governor signs UI bill negotiated by Council; employers to save millions


Director of Communications

The unemployment insurance reform that The Business Council helped craft is "another major step to make our state more competitive," Governor George Pataki said when he signed the bill.

The Governor signed the bill into law August 13 at a ceremony attended by Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. The ceremony took place during the annual state convention of the AFL-CIO, which helped The Business Council craft the bill.

The new law:

  • Enacts tax tables that are more "experience-rated"-that is, more representative of employers' experiences with the UI system.

  • Reforms disqualification procedures so all employers whose accounts might be tapped for benefits can introduce disqualifying evidence in an applicant's benefits hearing.

  • Creates a wage reporting system that will save employers time and money. The new wage reporting system will save employers million of dollars in time and material now spent on paperwork that must be completed for each applicant that seeks benefits.

  • Now, employers will send quarterly reports on all employees to the state Department of Labor, eliminating paperwork formerly done for individual UI claims.

  • Creates a re-employment services bureau designed to help workers find jobs more quickly and thus shorten the duration of claimants' benefits periods.
  • Phases in two increases in benefits.

The law also effectively makes permanent the savings that The Council gained for all employers in last year's Operation UI Pre-Pay, which saved most New York employers $63 per employee in UI costs.

In Operation Pre-Pay, The Business Council got employers to make pre-payments on their 1998 UI taxes to trigger a rate decrease. Employers statewide made more than $171 million in pre-payments.

"This law just kicked New York's economic comeback into a higher gear," Walsh said. "UI reform has been a priority of Business Council members and all New York State employers for years.

"This law will save employers millions of dollars and streamline the UI system-even as benefits increase for the temporarily unemployed workers that the system was originally designed to protect.

"This is a win not just for New York's business or workers but for all New Yorkers-because we all benefit from a stronger economy," Walsh concluded.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, "This tax cut, along with all the other tax cuts we have approved, will push us further along the road to economic recovery."

Click here for the Governor's release. Click here for The Business Council's release.