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May 20, 2009

GOVERNOR BARBOUR RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD FOR INTEGRITY IN UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE


Governor Haley Barbour has earned a top honor from UWC Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation, a national organization representing business in national unemployment insurance policy and law.

Governor Barbour was presented last week with the UI Integrity Award, which is given to an individual who has demonstrated commitment to preserving the integrity of the unemployment system.

In presenting the award, UWC President Doug Holmes noted Governor Barbour’s leadership in rejecting new federal requirements imposed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which would have required the state to enact new unemployment insurance provisions that would result in additional long-term costs to the Mississippi fund, increasing burdens on employers paying state unemployment taxes and reducing the funds available for unemployed workers over the long term.

“In responding to the difficult decision of determining whether to accept federal short-term incentive funds that would impose longer-term burdens on the integrity of Mississippi’s UI trust fund, Governor Barbour made the reasoned decision based on the impact on Mississippi not to accept the funds even when his decision may not have been popular. We recognize his leadership in commitment for state UI trust fund integrity,” said Douglas J. Holmes, President of UWC.

Governor Barbour believes that a strong Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is an integral part of the success of the employment system. The Governor’s refusal to accept certain components of the economic stimulus money was not to deny the citizens of Mississippi the quick, easy money provided in the stimulus package but to protect the integrity of a system that has existed intact for more than 70 years. Governor Barbour looked past the temporary fix the stimulus money provided to the long-term needs of the people of Mississippi. He readily accepted the provisions of the Recovery Act that would provide benefits to help the citizens of Mississippi. Mississippi was one of the first states in the nation to implement stimulus benefits that did not have a long-term negative effect on job creation, such as raising taxes on employers. These benefits include temporarily increasing the amount of time a worker is eligible for UI benefits as well as increasing weekly UI benefits by $25.

Governor Barbour’s commitment to the unemployment insurance program is not new. From the early days of his first term he has been vocal about preserving the unemployment reserves. He insists that the state must have adequate reserves to pay no less than one year of benefits. Governor Barbour understands that this will protect the workers in the state and provide for the necessities for workers.

The award UI Integrity award was presented at the National Foundation for Unemployment & Workers’ Compensation UI Issues conference in Wilmington, N.C.