Legislation will invest $600 million to improve and expand unemployment benefits, create a more resilient future economy
DENVER, CO – Members of the House and Senate today announced bipartisan legislation to save businesses money and improve unemployment insurance for Colorado workers.
Sponsored by Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton, and Rep. Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs, the bill would infuse the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund (UITF) with pandemic relief funds while expanding eligibility and improving benefits to help support Colorado’s working families.
“When the pandemic hit and thousands of Coloradans lost their jobs, the state’s unemployment insurance program was there to help families pay rent and keep food on the table,” Hansen said. “Now we’re doubling down to protect this critical safety net for working families and our economy by investing hundreds of millions into unemployment insurance to protect future solvency while improving and expanding the benefits it offers. This bill will better prepare us to weather any future economic downturns, and help make sure unemployment insurance continues to benefit working Colorado families for years to come.”
“The bipartisan legislation we introduced today has the support of the business community, workers and lawmakers in both parties because we all agree – this is a responsible path forward to reduce costs for businesses, improve protections for workers, and save everyone money,” Snyder said. “The pandemic made it very clear – Colorado workers need an unemployment insurance system that works for them and delivers the assistance they need, when they need it. We’ve crafted a bill that will help ensure the stability of the fund and make common sense improvements to ensure the system meets the needs of the moment.”
“This bill reforms our unemployment insurance program to better deliver assistance to workers and save people and businesses money,” Ortiz said. “At the start of the pandemic, changes to the system worked well to help get people back to work, and I’m excited to make them permanent. Not only does this bill stave off steep cost increases on businesses, it will ensure more workers get the assistance they need to get back on their feet.” “Colorado businesses have endured one of the most challenging economic environments in our state’s history,” said Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman, who was instrumental in the bill negotiations. “Through no fault of their own, many were forced to close and lay off valued employees, which has put them on the hook for the depletion of the UITF. After months of negotiations, this bill is an important first step in providing real relief to Colorado businesses. While we are still in need of a long-term solution, these funds will prevent significant unemployment premium increases, which will in turn help Colorado workers and local communities across the state.”
The legislation announced today invests $600 million to shore up the solvency of the UITF and protect against potential future economic downturns. This will save businesses money on premiums and provide certainty to workers who depend on unemployment benefits to continue paying for essentials like food, rent, and transportation while they search for new work.
The bill makes further improvements to ensure the unemployment system works better for Colorado families. It raises the benefit amount part-time workers can receive from 25 percent to 50 percent of the weekly benefit amount, in order to remove disincentives for workers who are laid off to find part-time employment while seeking a full-time job. It also creates a Benefit Recovery Fund to ensure that workers in Colorado who lack work authorization can access the benefits they contribute to and their employers pay premiums into.
The bill also eliminates the one-week waiting period to help workers access their benefits as quickly as possible once the Fund reaches a sustainable level, clarifies what constitutes an overpayment, and requires employers to inform their workers of their unemployment benefit eligibility upon separation.