Industry groups accused Beacon Hill lawmakers of “not grasping” the scope of unemployment for business owners, and pointed out that at least 30 states have taken action to reduce debt accumulated during the pandemic.
Christopher Carlozzi is the NFIB’s State Director. He stated: “The state wants businesses to lead companies in recovering from the pandemic. They can’t do this if they are being dragged down with high taxes. They didn’t. “I fully understand the gravity of this crisis at this moment. This is a terrible circumstance.”
The record number of applications for unemployment benefit payments during the pandemic led to its bankruptcy trust fund’s insolvency, and Massachusetts was forced to repay $7 billion of the loan.
Current burden falls on the shoulders of business owners. Once the bonds are repaid the unemployment rate will rise over the next twenty years.
During the whole pandemic, states paid approximately $175 Billion in unemployment benefits and the federal government provided $660 Billion in additional assistance.
Massachusetts had already paid $33.9Billion in claims by Labor Day when the aid for most pandemic cases ended.
So far, at least 30 states have pledged to provide some federal relief funds to ease the pressure on companies that are still struggling to rebound after the government’s mandatory shutdowns and restrictions. In May, the federal government approved the use of US$195.3 billion in President Biden’s US Rescue Plan Act for local relief to pay for unemployment.
Jon Hirst, Massachusetts Retailers Association, stated that this is a shared responsibility that Massachusetts officials should take.
“It’s misinformation that small businesses have $7 billion hanging on their heads due to government-induced layoffs. This is an anti-employer and anti-growth message,” Hirst said.
Beacon Hill lawmakers are sitting on $4.9 Billion in ARPA relief funds. This is because they are evaluating spending priorities. Last year, the state also received nearly $500 million in surplus taxes.
Senator Speaker Karen Spirka stated last week that a bill was expected to be passed by Thanksgiving to use “part of” the cash for emergencies, but it is unclear if unemployment is one these priorities.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker presented a spending bill worth nearly $1.6 billion in August. It would have used $1 billion of surplus cash to pay off unemployment debt.
Hirst stated, however, that the governor’s proposal was a “start”, but not enough.