Testimony: Unemployment Reform (LD 245)


Testimony in Support of LD 245:
“An Act to Require a Person Receiving Unemployment Benefits to Attend Scheduled Interviews
to Fulfill the Work Search Requirement”

Senator Tipping, Representative Roeder, and the distinguished members of the Committee on Labor and Housing, my name is Nick Murray and I serve as director of policy at Maine Policy Institute. We are a free market think tank, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of LD 245.

Losing one’s job unexpectedly can force a difficult transition for individuals, especially those with dependents. State unemployment compensation (UC) exists to help Mainers in these tough but temporary times. Because the program is funded by tax dollars, its administration should be held to the highest standards of accountability.

Today, a Mainer filing for unemployment compensation must be seeking, and accept an offer of suitable work if offered, in order to retain their eligibility for the program. Beneficiaries are expected to take every opportunity available in order to get off of unemployment and begin to become financially self-sufficient again.

LD 245 would simply require a UC applicant to appear at a job interview that they scheduled to keep receiving benefits. It is unfortunate that this provision must be added to the law, but one need only speak with a few employers to learn that many are dealing with applicants skipping scheduled interviews in order to satisfy the state’s lax UC eligibility requirements. This phenomenon is ubiquitous at this point.

Today, there is no guarantee that a UC beneficiary is actually seeking work if they are merely scheduling interviews they have no intention of completing. If one can book a job interview, but never show up, there might as well be no work requirements at all. The current rules are a farce–it’s that simple. 

Please deem LD 245 “Ought To Pass” and ensure that Mainers’ tax dollars meant to help those truly struggling are not being wasted on those taking advantage of lax unemployment requirements. Thank you for your time and consideration.