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Study Committee Monitoring Changes to Umployment Insurance

Now that significant changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system are becoming law piece by piece over the next few months, the Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee’s job is make sure the reforms are actually changing things.

When the bill passed this summer, the provisions provided a roadmap for paying back the federal government the hundreds of millions of dollars Indiana has borrowed to remain solvent.

Now, committee member Senator Brandt Hershman says the picture’s gotten a little fuzzier.

“We were initially project to go neutral and start being in a position to pay back near the end of 2012 and the beginning to 2013. But because the unemployment data has changed so significantly and our revenue picture has changed so drastically I think it’s very hard at this point to make any solid prediction as to when we’ll be able to do that,” he said.

Indiana’s jobless rate has dropped for three straight months, leading some economists to label it a trend. But Hershman says he’s not sure if the reforms have had a hand in shrinking the state unemployment pool.

Hershman says the changes shift more financial responsibility to businesses. But he says the committee has to make sure the weight of the reforms isn’t too much for employers to bear.

“And so we need to make sure on one hand that the money is there to provide benefits and on the other hand we’re not overburdening the business community during a time in which they’re already struggling mightily because of the economic conditions we face,“ he said.

Hershman says the committee Monday will also place an emphasis on ridding the state’s system of fraud, which he says is needed following recent evidence showing widespread misuse of the system.

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