Business owners are reeling after receiving notices of huge increases in their unemployment insurance payments.
At the Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday on St. Croix, a business owner in the marine industry on St. Thomas noted that his unemployment insurance payments have increased from .1 percent to 5.4 percent. That news left committee chairwoman Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen flabbergasted.
Charles Engeman, an attorney for the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, said that depending on the number of employees, a small business that was paying a few thousand dollars a year in unemployment insurance will now face a burden of $15,000.
For larger businesses the cost is much greater, Engeman said. A hotel with 500 employees that was paying $10,000 to $15,000 a year will now pay more than $300,000. The new percentages are retroactive to Jan. 1, he said.
"I think this needs to be overridden," Hansen said. "Such legislation as it stands right now will cause businesses to go bankrupt."
The business community drafted language that was included in the 23rd Legislatures Omnibus bill and that would have made the increases more manageable, Engeman said. However, Gov. Charles Turnbull line-item vetoed the provision. In his veto message, Turnbull said the V.I. inspector general had other recommendations to deal with the issue.