OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A bill that lawmakers say would effectively end unemployment tax increases at Oklahoma businesses is one step closer to being passed into law.
Bill of 1933 passed Tuesday in the state Senate.
A press release from the state Senate says the bill, if passed into law, will index Oklahoma’s unemployment benefits.
The legislation would effectively end Oklahoma’s business unemployment tax increases by changing the way the state pays unemployment benefits to a tiered system based on the number of weekly claims.
Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, and Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, drafted the bill.
Moving to a tiered system would stabilize the Unemployment Insurance (UI) fund, accelerate job growth and reduce tax rates, according to Taylor.
“Lowering unemployment taxes allows employers to hire more people and raise wages, a critical component to help address the state’s severe labor shortage,” Taylor said. . “Indexing benefits would reduce unemployment insurance tax rates from $2.80 to $1.90 per $1,000 of wages in just five years, while increasing the unemployment insurance fund. Oklahoma’s unemployment of $324 million in just three years. It’s good business sense, I think everyone in Oklahoma should be able to get behind it.
The press release says projections show that reliance on the program could decrease by 35% in four years, reducing the average time of unemployment for an unemployment insurance enrollee from 13.4 weeks to 8.7 weeks. The source of the projections was not specified.
“This legislation strengthens Oklahoma’s unemployment system, making it healthier,” Martinez said. “This ensures that our rates remain reasonable and that when services are needed, they are there. It also helps entice Oklahomans back into the workforce by filling the large number of job openings currently available.
The bill now returns to the House of Representatives for final approval due to a Senate amendment. If the House approves it, he will head to Governor Kevin Stitt for final approval.
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