With the movement of a pen, Gov. Sam Brownback changed how Kansas collects taxes from businesses to finance benefits for unemployed workers on Monday.
The reforms are designed to make the state unemployment insurance taxes (SUI) paid by businesses more predictable by setting fixed rates in state law. The state currently sets rates annually based on estimates of what is believed to be needed to finance benefits. It is expected that the changes will reduce the amount of benefits owed by business to the state.
“This bill will bring a lot of stability to our unemployment funds,” House Commerce Committee Chairman Mark Hutton, said during the ceremony.
The maximum weekly benefit for workers would now be set at 55 percent of the state’s average wage. The cap is currently 60 percent. The measure insures the new cap will not drop below the current figure of $474 per week.
These changes to the Kansas unemployment insurance program come after the state made changes in 2014 to tie the amount of benefits available to the state’s unemployment rate.
Because of these changes the maximum number of weeks the unemployed can receive benefits fell to 20 in 2015, based on the unemployment rate for the preceding quarter falling between 4.5 percent and less than 6 percent.