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Kauffman Bill Provides End to Supplemental Funding of UC Program
10/24/2017
Exit ramp funding strategy would save taxpayer dollars, encourage greater efficiencies
HARRISBURG – Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, is introducing legislation to ensure the completion of long-awaited updates to the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program’s computer benefits system and the end of state supplemental funding that was originally designed to end last year.

“Several years ago the state agreed to provide temporary additional funding to the UC program on top of the federal funds it receives in order to improve service and make technology upgrades,” said Kauffman. “Unfortunately, due to years of mismanagement, an anticipated computer system is still not in place and UC officials are asking to have the money continue to flow with no results to show for it.”

When the department was unprepared for the funding to end last year, it created a crisis that led to the furlough of roughly 500 employees and severe service disruptions in the UC system.

In order to prevent a future crisis and give the Department of Labor and Industry more time to plan, Kauffman’s bill would propose a three-year exit strategy to provide the money needed to complete the computer upgrades and then bring an end to the funding. In total, the legislation would provide about $75 million in additional funding for the Department of Labor and Industry to implement a modern, efficient UC system and transition to a budget that can be covered by federal funding totaling approximately $130 million per year to operate the UC program.

“Funding from the state was always supposed to be temporary, so the UC program should have the ability to fully operate on the funding it receives from the federal government,” said Kauffman. “The computer system is an additional cost and my legislation accounts for that and graciously offers the funding needed for the project to reach completion.

“The state is still working to close out the 2017-18 state budget and resolve where to get revenue to pay its bills, so I think it is only right to expect the UC program to get its house in order and end its reliance on money ultimately coming from Pennsylvania employees to cover its poor management of funds,” continued Kauffman.

Kauffman noted that department officials have claimed it is difficult to operate the UC program on continually diminishing federal funds. However, federal funding is primarily granted based on the number of claims being processed. From 2012 to 2016, federal funding has decreased by 24 percent, but initial claims processed by the Pennsylvania UC program actually decreased by 31 percent. With fewer claims to process, fewer employees are needed, especially once an updated computer system is in place.

“The House Labor and Industry Committee has held three hearings on this issue and it has become clear that we need to have a plan in place that includes an end date for state funding going to the UC program,” said Kauffman. “My bill would provide the funding the department needs to complete its project and allow enough time for officials to take a hard look at the budget and make the necessary changes to create a more efficient operation that will continue to provide great service to those accessing the UC program.”

This bill is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship in the House.

Representative Rob Kauffman
89th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
717.772.9840
tlehman@pahousegop.com
RepKauffman.com

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