Rutigliano — Use federal relief to shore up unemployment fund

State Rep. David Rutigliano, R-123rd District

State Rep. David Rutigliano, R-123rd District

Contributed photo

TRUMBULL — State Rep. David Rutigliano, R-123rd District, and other state House colleagues are pushing for the General Assembly to address the state’s unemployment trust fund debt crisis.

The state borrowed about $700 million from the federal government to cover pandemic-driven unemployment compensation benefit claims after the unemployment trust fund became insolvent. The total borrowing to cover the fund is projected to exceed $1 billion, Rutigliano said.

“We are at a crucial junction. The state needs to use some of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to address that massive debt and avoid broad tax hikes on struggling small businesses,” Rutigliano said. “Many small businesses cannot absorb another financial hit and continue to keep their doors open and employees employed.”

The unemployment trust fund is likely to remain crucial long after the COVID pandemic is over, Rutigliano said. The state has recovered about 58 percent of the 292,000 jobs lost as a result of the pandemic shutdown last March and April.

“Connecticut employers could be forced to repay this massive debt, that was incurred through no fault of their own,” he said.

To date, 24 states have used portions of their federal coronavirus relief funds to either help pay for unemployment benefits or pay down the principal on their federal loans, Rutigliano said.