The Feds Pitch In

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Ohio's Unemployment Compensation Insurance Trust Fund is deeply in hock to the federal government, but the balance sheet would look even worse if the feds hadn't already pitched some dollars in Ohio's direction.

An interest waiver included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) saved Ohio $117 million in interest on its UC trust fund federal loan.

Ohio also qualified for $88 million in federal stimulus money, based on how it calculates UC benefit eligibility. And the state received $350,000 for administering the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for workers who lose their jobs because of outsourcing or increased imports. Every little bit helps.

Ohio could qualify for an additional $176 million in ARRA funding if it expands benefits to include those who enroll in approved job training, seek part-time work or quit their jobs for specified reasons. The state could also score ARRA bucks by offering at least $15 in weekly benefits to dependents of jobless workers.

Federal funding always comes with rules and regulations, of course, so Ohio's not rushing to be first in line for the additional ARRA money. "A decision is needed by August 2011," says Bruce Madson, deputy chief of staff of workforce solutions for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. "We want to tap any extra federal money that we can, but we have to evaluate the positives and negatives in light of the entire unemployment compensation system."