2:01pm

Wed March 28, 2012
State Capitol

Debt Payments on Jobless Benefits Reworked in Senate

A Kentucky Senate committee's changes to a bill to repay a federal loan could derail the plan. The state borrowed nearly a billion dollars during the recession to shore up the unemployment insurance fund. In 2010, lawmakers approved a plan to repay the loan through higher taxes on employers. This year, the House approved a plan to interest payments on the loan through higher taxes as well.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now considering amending the interest payment plan to change the 2010 plan. They say employers need relief from the original tax increase if they're also facing higher taxes to make interest payments.

Judiciary committee chairman Tom Jensen is asking supporters of the amendment to try to hammer out a compromise today.

“Would it help if we gave everybody some time to discuss this?" he asked in a committee meeting. "Cause I saw you back there discussing this with [bill sponsor] Representative [Larry] Clark on some issues. Would it help if you all had some time if this is something you could readily resolve yourselves?"

Education and Workforce Development Secretary Joe Meyer says such a discussion would help.The committee plans to meet again later today to vote on the amendments or another compromise.

But Representative Clark, who sponsored the bill, says any changes to his bill could kill it because the revisions would need the federal approval his bill already has.

“I would caution the committee members, any changes we make would have to be submitted to the federal government to make sure we’re in compliance with the federal unemployment act and as you well know we adjourn April 12 so any changes would put this legislation in peril,” Clark says.

The committee plans to vote on the bill later today.