Gov. Janet Mills has signed an order shifting up to $270 million in federal CARES act money to bolster the state unemployment trust fund. The move assures that benefits paid through the state unemployment system will continue without having to borrow from the federal government.
Benefits are paid for by a tax on employers, and Mills’ action will help reduce any tax increase employers would face to pay back federal loans and to continue benefits mandated by federal law.
Finance Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa says the fund was in good shape until it was hit with unprecedented demand.
“116,000 individuals have received more than $720 million in federal and state unemployment benefits as of June 11," Figueroa says.
The Reallocation of funds to the unemployment trust fund comes from the more than $1.2 billion that the state government received under the federal CARES act to address the impacts of the pandemic on the state.
“This is especially important to the smaller employers with lower wage employees because the tax is a higher percentage of their overall payroll expenses, increases are harder to pay for.”