OSCPA testifies on unemployment comp reform

Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 by Gary Hunt

OSCPA staff report

CPAs want the Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund system “to be solvent, affordable, predictable, and provide a seamless pathway for claimants to quickly return to the workforce.”

That was the testimony presented last week by attorney Tony Fiore in front of the Unemployment Compensation Reform Joint Committee on behalf of OSCPA and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Fiore, an attorney with the Columbus law firm of Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter, listed numerous recommendations to return Ohio’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund to a position of solvency now and into the future.

“There are two reasons why reform is necessary now. First, it’s important to CPAs for their own bottom line; they are small business owners as well,” he said. “The other is all of the clients that CPAs are advising. They are on the front line to try to help explain and wade through what is the federal unemployment tax, what is the state unemployment tax, and how does that break down into a per-employee cost.”

His testimony focused on solvency, re-employment and workforce training, system integrity, taxes and benefits. He said Ohio “can achieve a strong state UI Trust Fund through temporarily increasing the taxable wage base in 2018 from $9,000 to $11,000, freezing the MSL employer surcharges, freezing the base rate triggers to prevent automatic increases in benefit levels, reducing the maximum number of benefit weeks from 26 to 20, and eliminating the dependency allowance.”

Fiore noted that anything less than comprehensive reform would result in marginal results and act as a Band-Aid in an attempt to fix the system.

In a related move and with the support of OSCPA, the State of Ohio on Aug. 30 paid off its unemployment compensation debt to the federal government to end harmful penalties paid by Ohio employers. But Ohio's unemployment system remains structurally out of balance, and even a small recession could make it insolvent again, potentially triggering another round of significant penalties under the provisions of HB 390 until lawmakers enact a long-term solution.


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