Sweeney: UI Funding Crisis Shows Need For His Raid Block Plan

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney today said the depleted condition of the Unemployment Insurance Fund demonstrates the need for his bipartisan proposal, SCR-60, to seek voter approval to permanently ban raids on employer and worker generated State funds which have been skimmed over the years during budget crises.

“I support Governor Corzine’s proposal to replenish the UI Fund now and avoid a tax increase, but I think people would welcome a long-term ban on future raids that is backed up by the State Constitution,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland.

The Sweeney proposal, co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union, would ask voters to amend the State Constitution to require that any state funds generated by assessments on wages of workers could only be used for the purposes for which they were created such as unemployment, disability or workers’ compensation.

The Senate Majority Leader said he backs Corzine’s plan to avoid triggering a $350 million business tax by putting $260 million in available State revenues into the UI Fund.

“What we’ll be doing is putting money back into the (UI) Fund that should have stayed there in the first place,” Senator Sweeney said. “We’ll actually be repaying the fund part of what it rightfully deserves.”

At the same time, the Senate Majority Leader said, voter approval of his Senate Resolution will �tie the hands of future Administrations� from raiding worker funds.

�In effect, the resolution wants voters to approve a restriction on the use of funds and any investment income from them solely to the employee benefits for which they were created,� the Senator Sweeney said.

�Over the last 20 years, billions of dollars have been raided by both Democrats and Republicans to help balance the budget or to meet an emergent fiscal need,� said Senator Sweeney. �But with passage of the resolution, voters would be able to permanently ensure the integrity of these funds.�

The Sweeney-Kean proposal would place the constitutional question on the November general election ballot and, if approved by voters, would take effect next January 1st.