unemployment

With so many people in California needing to use benefits, the state has had to borrow from the feds. Proposal would make businesses pay more.

CAPITOL BUSINESS BEAT

By Marc Lifsher
July 28, 2013, 7:44 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — In the closing days of the Legislature last year, Gov. Jerry Brown helped forge a compromise on a sweeping overhaul of the workers’ compensation insurance system and persuaded Democratic and Republican lawmakers to pass it into law.

Now he is taking on another big challenge: He wants to fix the state’s financially ailing unemployment insurance program, which pays jobless Californians up to $450 a week.

With one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates for several years, the state has had to borrow money from the feds to keep the program going. Now that the jobless rate has fallen to 8.5%, Brown would like to start paying down a $10-billion debt.

His administration is circulating a draft bill that would put the system on an even keel by raising payroll taxes paid by employers. The goal is to win approval before the Legislature finishes work for the year Sept. 13.

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