To the editor:
A recent state auditor's report suggests that Missouri's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund could be insolvent by 2003. MMMA agrees that the current funding formula is not reacting fast enough to a downturn in the economy and needs to be adjusted.
Government officials are proposing the fund balance be increased to $1 billion. MMMA disagrees. We believe maintaining a fund balance between $300 million and $500 million is sufficient to pay claims. Increasing the fund balance to $1 billion would take too much money from Missouri employers. If employers retain this money, it could be used for capital improvements, wages or even offsetting staggering insurance costs. These expenditures are a boost to the economy.
In the past two years the state has paid out over $100 million in benefits to employees who did not lose their jobs through no fault of their own. According to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, 20 percent of the total approved claims in 2000 involved discharge issues.
With minor changes to our current law, employers can stabilize our fund balance and avoid insolvency. Unemployment insurance is not an entitlement program. Unemployment benefits provide financial assistance for employees who have been terminated through no fault of their own and are seeking new employment.
of Governmental Affairs
Missouri Merchants and Manufacturers Association
Jefferson City, Mo.