Senate Moves to Repay Ohio’s Unemployment Debt

This week, Ohio lawmakers took another step towards enacting Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to repay the federal loan used to fund the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic. Ohio is expected to owe the federal government as much as $1.6 billion for the assistance — debt that would eventually need to be repaid by Ohio employers, which fully fund the state‚Äôs unemployment insurance system.

Under OMA-supported House Bill 168 — which was passed unanimously this week by the Senate — the debt would be repaid with federal COVID-19 relief dollars. Without Statehouse action, interest would start accruing on the federal loan — and Ohio employers — in September.

Before passing HB 168, the Senate inserted language to allocate $422 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds to local governments. This provision is similar to the one in Senate Bill 111 — the vehicle the House used to approve an anti-vaccination provision — putting pressure on the House to pass the loan repayment plan without the vaccine changes. (See separate story.) 6/25/2021