As Governor Jay Inslee shut down the state during the initial throws of the COVID-19 pandemic, the response by the Employment Security Division (ESD), responsible for distributing unemployment benefits, was to open up the state coffers. Anyone who applied received benefits and Washington ESD didn’t bother validating the identity of anyone who requested benefits.
The result was that I, like many Washington residents, had their identity stolen. All told, over $600 million was paid out to scammers. Only $250 million has been recovered, resulting in over $350 million lost.
So who’s on the hook for the $350 million? You would think that the state would need to buckle-down and temper its spending.
Nope – Washington businesses are on the hook. As an employer in Washington, we have employed a nanny for the past 7 years (and never laid anyone off, despite the pandemic), we received our tax bill for 2021 – It’s up 300% from last year. Even though we’ve never tapped state unemployment in the past 7 years.
Here’s our state tax bill – there’s a new line: “UI Social Cost Rate.” This one is new to me – generalized as the cost for overall higher unemployment.
But let’s be honest. If the state hadn’t written a check for $350 million to scammers, the cost to businesses wouldn’t be nearly as high.
I, as a Washington employer, who never laid off an employee during the pandemic, should be rewarded with lower premiums, not punished.
And overall, why should employers bear the cost of Inslee’s disastrous response to COVID-19. The CDC and WHO have rejected lockdowns as the answer to COVID-19, but Democrat-leaning Governors keep imposing them. From CDC director Bob Redfield: “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”
If Inslee and the Washington State government continue to pass the cost of their bad decisions and policies onto the productive people of Washington, why should we stay and continue to subsidize their behavior?