FRANKFORT — The state Senate voted 36 to 1 Friday to approve a measure that would help shore up the state's bankrupt unemployment insurance fund, a move that sends the proposal to Gov. Steve Beshear for his signature.
Beshear said in a statement that he was "very pleased" with the bill, which will decrease benefits for the unemployed and increase payments into the fund by employers starting in 2012.
"This bill has the full support of both business and labor interests, and will shore up a system that provides critical support for unemployed Kentuckians," he said.
Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Thursday that he planned to put three amendments on the bill that would further decrease benefits for the unemployed, but he did not call those amendments Friday for a vote.
Sen. Elizabeth Tori, R-Radcliff, was the only senator to vote against House Bill 5.
The state's unemployment insurance fund — which is funded by employer contributions — is bankrupt. The state has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits over the past year.
The House approved the bill on Wednesday. The proposal was developed by a task force that included union representatives and businesses.
Givens' proposed amendments created a lengthy debate on the Senate floor about job creation. He noted that every dollar that goes into the unemployment insurance fund comes from employers. He said employers could use more of those dollars to invest in their companies and create jobs.
But Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, said the amendments were not appropriate and should have been discussed by the task force last year.
The sponsor of the bill, House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said he was pleased that the Senate recognized the bill's importance to Kentucky's 86,000 employers.
Clark said the bill will save Kentucky employers about $700 million from 2012 through 2022.