State Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland) is criticizing Gov. J.B. Pritzker for not funding the state’s unemployment insurance fund earlier.
The unemployment insurance legislation went through an “Agreed Bill” process where both employers and labor worked together on the changes in statute. Illinois was on the hook for over $1.3 billion of a $4.5 billion loan it took out to cover unemployment during the lockdown.
“When are we going to stop punishing job creators with more taxes,” Miller said in a statement. “It is my feeling that business got bullied into this deal on UI. The state should have replenished the UI fund with federal COVID money and also paid back the federal loan - and they should have done both without raising UI rates on employers. Longer term, the way to stabilize the UI fund is to have more businesses that pay into the fund – and this deal is one more reason for business to look elsewhere to locate.”
The Illinois Freedom Caucus, comprised of State Representatives Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich); Chris Miller (R-Oakland); Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville); Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City), and Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) – penned a letter noting Pritzker’s failure in paying the bill sooner.
“Let’s be clear why we are here today," the group’s letter reads, The Southland Journal reported. "We are here because Governor Pritzker locked down our economy creating a raid on the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund like we have never seen before. We are here because instead of paying back the $4.5 billion we borrowed from the federal government to make the fund solvent, our leaders chose only partial payments from Illinois’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to back the loan. Instead of making good on the loan, our state’s leaders chose election year ploys such as temporary tax relief measures to improve their re-election chances.”
“The mismanagement and incompetence have led to where it always leads – higher taxes. As a result of the vote taken today on the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund bailout, taxes on businesses will go up 12 percent over the next five years. Those taxes will ultimately be paid by hard-working families who will see higher prices for the things they need to run their households. This is on top of the record inflation we are experiencing all across this country. Today’s vote is another example of how hard-working, honest people are paying a steep price for the graft and corruption in Springfield. Our leaders chose their own political future over working families. This is disappointing but not unexpected in our corrupt state.”
The governor was pointed out for his poor oversight of the state program which was rife with fraud. Pritzker explained he is trying to get the stolen state money back. According to The Center Square, Pritzker stated that “The federal government has identified billions of dollars from the federal creation of the PUA program and we're still working with the federal government to uncover that and also to prosecute people who fraudulently took money from the system.”
The state fraud comes as Covid unemployment fraud is being investigated federally. The House Ways and Means Committee Republican members recently drafted a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor asking for relevant data on the fraud. The Center Square also reported that In that letter, the GOP noted that “Fraud estimates range from $80 billion to as much as $400 billion, which is nearly half of all the COVID-19 unemployment aid.” They also mentioned that “Since the Summer of 2020, repeated alerts from federal law enforcement agencies warned of targeted efforts involving organized cybercrime, foreign actors, and international crime rings using stolen identities of American citizens to obtain fraudulent unemployment benefits.”
Rob Karr, director of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, hailed the passage of the legislation. He said that the passage of the agreement "helps … ease pressure, ensure greater stability in the unemployment insurance systems, and means Illinois employers will face at least $900 million less in taxes over five years than they would have otherwise.” WTTW also reported Karr said that “Illinois employers would have faced crushing tax increases. Following years of disruption and myriad ongoing challenges, it would have been an added burden many employers would have been unable to bear.”