State unemployment fund strapped

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Officials say Texas employers probably will pay more taxes next year thanks to an overloaded state unemployment fund.

Texas Workforce Commission administrators told a special state House panel studying the federal stimulus package that the state paid $64 million in unemployment benefits last week. That more than twice as much as in the same week last year.

Commission Executive Director Larry Temple testified that the unemployment insurance trust fund is expected to have just $48 million Oct. 1 when it's required by law to have $860 million.

The commission's staff is looking at a combination of higher taxes, borrowing from the federal government and issuing bonds to rebuild the fund.

Under the recently passed federal stimulus bill, Texas could receive $556 million immediately if it broadens eligibility to cover some nontraditional employees such as part-time workers.

It also would have to consider more recent wages in calculating a laid-off worker's income, not the current method, which can go back nearly 18 months.

Information from: The Dallas Morning News,