Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday to provide relief to businesses and workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide tax breaks for companies over the next five years to help recover from the economic effects of shutdowns.
Covid-19 has caused deep economic hardship for many workers and companies, Inslee said.
“This bill, along with other facilitations that we have provided, is another step towards mitigating this very difficult impact,” he said.
The bill relieves employers of individual benefit costs for claims incurred between March 22 and May 30, 2020, the governor’s stay at home, stay healthy period, and limits some tax rates until 2025.
These measures will prevent unemployment taxes from rising by $ 1.7 billion over the next five years, including a rate hike of more than $ 920 million this year.
The legislation also addresses the challenges workers face by increasing the minimum benefit from July 1st.
The bill also includes updates to the guidelines to ensure that Washington’s unemployment insurance system is more responsive to public health emergencies. This includes eligibility for people at high risk of serious illness and their family members.
It also ensures federal funds don’t stay on the table when federal support is available for some benefit programs, and enhances the state’s voluntary contribution program, which allows employers to buy interest rate increases.
Companies and individuals do not need to go through any additional processes to receive the deductions or increased benefits.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Karen Keizer, is the first to leave the legislature at this session.
“This bill responds to an urgent need,” said Keizer. “Employers are seeing their unemployment bonuses rise by 300 to 500 percent and more.”
It is a bridge for those who need it most, she said, adding it will also help thousands of low-wage workers in the state who may become homeless because they cannot afford to pay for rent, utilities or food .
For more consumer information, see Rita R. Robison, Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist.