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Downing Votes to Freeze Unemployment Insurance Rate
February 11, 2011

- Continues Efforts to Provide Relief to Small Business and Encourage Job Creation-
BOSTON – Continuing a commitment to provide economic relief for small businesses and grow and create jobs, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces today passage of legislation by the Massachusetts Senate that will freeze the Unemployment Insurance rate. This action was taken during formal session yesterday; the proposal passed unanimously, with a 36-0 vote.
Without the freeze, the rate would increase by over $228 per employee, with the average employer seeing a per-employee payment jump from $644 to $872.
“Freezing this rate allows small businesses to continue to grow and hire additional employees as our economy continues to recover,” said Downing.
“This effort will help give our businesses some additional breathing room as they work to overcome this challenging economic environment,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “We need to continue to foster environments where jobs can grow and be created. This is another step on the part of the Senate to do just that.”
“Freezing the unemployment insurance rate provides certainty to Massachusetts businesses as our state begins its recovery from the recession,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Failure to act will result in our mom and pop businesses facing substantial increases in their unemployment costs, which will only make it harder for these companies to expand and grow our economy.”
Last year, in an effort to spur business development and keep doors of existing business open, the Senate passed a similar unemployment rate freeze and lead the charge to streamline the Commonwealth economic development efforts. The Senate took the lead on other business-friendly efforts such as: establishing certain business tax incentives and a cap on small business health insurance rates to provide further relief and encourage short-term growth. The Legislature has also reduced the corporate excise tax, dropping this year to 8.25 percent from 8.75 percent and to 8 percent by January 2012. This year’s rate drop constitutes a 13 percent reduction in the corporate excise tax since 2009.
The Senate bill to freeze the Unemployment Insurance rate would hold steady the current rate schedule for Unemployment Insurance assessments on employers for calendar year 2011 In previous recessions the state has frozen the assessment schedule to relieve the burden on small businesses in tough economic times.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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