News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, MAY 23, 2005


Legislature’s negligence could cost state employers

Among many things that the Alabama Legislature should have accomplished, but didn't, during its annual session was a piece of housekeeping about unemployment compensation.

A loophole in the way employers pay the unemployment compensation tax will be costly if it's not plugged by Jan. 1, 2006. The businesses will lose a federal tax credit and pay more than $400 a year per employee, rather than the $56 they now pay. That's according to Phyllis Kennedy, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations.

But a bill to solve the problem died May 16 when the session ended.

Bill Canary, president of the Business Council of Alabama, said he and Kennedy sent letters to all 35 state senators before the final day, explaining the legislation's urgency. But it died in the Senate.

Lawmakers will have another chance to pass it because they also neglected to pass a General Fund budget, and Gov. Bob Riley must call a special session.

Not passing a budget is bad enough, but the unemployment compensation matter looks like it would have been a slam dunk with proper communication and leadership. Is that too much to expect from state officials? Apparently so.

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