Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | 5:02 p.m.
Nevada owes the federal government an estimated $540 million that was borrowed to cover unemployment checks issued to the jobless during the recession. The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved two bills to pay off the debt and restore the state’s unemployment fund to solvency.
Assembly Bill 482 permits the state Division of Employment Security to increase the jobless insurance assessment on 57,000 businesses to pay off the $17 million in interest due the federal government in September.
It will mean an increase of .08 percent of the monthly premium. The average will be about $22 a year per employee, Administrator Renee Olson said.
AB482 now goes to the governor.
The second bill, Senate Bill 515, allows the division to issue bonds to pay off the full debt and get the state’s fund back on its feet. The bonds would have a lower interest rate than the federal government and would save businesses money in the future.
The bonds would not be counted against the state’s debt limit. Olson said the division is structuring the bonds and deciding when the best time is to sell to get a favorable interest rate. The division would have to get approval of the state Board of Finance.
There is no estimate on how much the monthly premium will increase because of the bonds.
This bill goes to the Assembly.
During the economic downturn, Nevada had the highest unemployment in the nation. And it is still above the national average.