Gov. Mark Sanford today joined a bipartisan group of legislators and state officials to sign S.391, a bill aimed at addressing the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund's near billion-dollar deficit.
"For too long, the Employment Security Commission (ESC) was a separate island of government with little accountability - and that lack of accountability had real world consequences," Gov. Sanford said. "Although we addressed those structural problems earlier this year, we're still faced with the reality that South Carolina has had to borrow almost $1 billion from the federal government to cover the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund's shortfall. This bill begins the extended process of repaying our state's debts and being good stewards of this UI Fund going forward by both making abuses of the state's UI system significantly more difficult and protecting employers who don't abuse the system from paying more than their fair share into the Trust Fund. I'd thank Senator Greg Ryberg and Representative Kenny Bingham for their leadership in shepherding this bill through the legislature - and I look forward to working with General John Finan, Director of the Department of Employment and Workforce, in implementing what I think is a equitable and commonsense solution to a long term problem."
"I am pleased that the General Assembly reached bipartisan agreement on the complex reform of the unemployment insurance system," Sen. Greg Ryberg said. "Any further delay only promised to increase even more the cost to South Carolina businesses. Kicking this can down the road was not an option."
"The circumstances that made this bill necessary were unfortunate, but I do think it's the fairest possible solution to South Carolina's employers as well as the state's taxpayers," Rep. Kenny Bingham said. "It's a great example of legislators on both sides of the aisle working together toward a goal that's in the state's best interests."
In 2000, the Trust Fund had a year-end positive balance of $800 million; today, the state has had to borrow $890 million from the federal government - representing a $1.7 billion swing to the negative under the ESC's watch.