In a rare moment of bipartisanship under the Capitol dome, Governor JB Pritzker has joined with business and labor groups, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers, on a deal to pay off the remaining debt in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.
The state had to borrow $4.5 billion from the federal government to shore up the fund when claims skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic. With the repayment deadline coming due, the agreement calls for the state to repay the remaining $1.4 billion in federal debt and put another $450 million into the unemployment fund as a no-interest loan, to be gradually repaid over ten years.
The deal averts the possibility of substantial benefit reductions for unemployed workers or big increases in what businesses must pay into the fund. The provisions must still be approved by the legislature in the coming weeks.