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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lingle signs Hawaii unemployment tax-relief measure to help businesses

Advertiser Staff

Gov. Linda Lingle has signed a bill that will lower employers’ unemployment insurance taxes this year, but is calling for the Legislature to enact other changes that will result in greater savings.

Lingle signed the bill this morning, averting an almost 12-fold increase in average unemployment taxes that was to occur in April.

The rates are being raised to rebuild the state’s unemployment benefit trust fund that is being depleted because of Hawaiçi’s high jobless rates.

The average tax would have risen from $90 annually per employee to $1,070 this year if not for the legislation that was fast-tracked by lawmakers. The measure reduces the average increase to $630.

The rates would also be lower next year than they would have been if some relief had not been granted.

Rep. Karl Rhoads, who crafted the measure, has said employers are getting $241 million of payments deferred over the two years of relief being granted.

Lingle said the savings amounted to $77 million over the next four years and touted her own bill.

“I urge the Legislature to take up this matter next year and pass a bill similar to the one I proposed that would have saved employers $497 million and kept close to a half billion dollars in our local economy,” Lingle said in a press statement she issued after signing the measure.