South Dakota should accept $5.9 million from the federal stimulus package to help jobless workers and support the system that pays unemployment benefits, a state advisory council recommended Tuesday.
The state can get the extra money by allowing jobless people to use more recent time periods in qualifying for unemployment benefits.
The extra money also would delay the imposition of a surcharge on employers that takes effect when the trust fund balance falls to a certain level, state Labor Secretary Pam Roberts told the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council.
Roberts said the purpose of unemployment insurance is to help people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, so the change makes sense.
A surcharge on employers kicks in if the trust fund balance falls to $11 million. That would happen Sept. 30 if nothing is done, and surcharge payments would be due in business payments due in January. With the extra money from the stimulus, it would be probably be delayed until March 31, 2010, with payments due in July [Chet Brokaw, "Panel Recommends Unemployment Insurance Strategy," AP via Pierre Capital Journal, 2009.02.24]
Their case was sufficiently persuasive that the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council voted unanimously to recommend that the Legislature update South Dakota's UI rules to qualify for the $5.9 million.
So the couch and the capital crowd agree: Governor Rounds's rejection of this little bit of stimulus money will raise costs for employers sooner, just as they're trying to recover from the recession. Is that political posturing still worth it, Governor?