OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate has approved a measure that would change the state’s unemployment system.

House Bill 1933 would index Oklahoma’s unemployment benefits, which would end unemployment tax increases on Oklahoma businesses.

Organizers say the system would adjust how the state pays unemployment compensation to a tiered system based on the number of weekly claims.

They say as a result, individuals would qualify for more weeks of benefits when the economy is performing poorly, and less weeks of benefits when the economy is strong.

“This legislation strengthens Oklahoma’s unemployment system, making it healthier,” Rep. Ryan Martinez, (R-Edmond) said. “It ensures our rates remain reasonable and that when benefits are needed, they are there. It also helps incentivize Oklahomans to return to the work force filling the large number of job openings that currently are available.”

Supporters say the move would stabilize the unemployment insurance fund and would get people back to work twice as fast while lowering tax rates.

“Lower unemployment taxes allow employers to hire more people and increase wages, a critical component to help address the state’s dire workforce shortage,” Sen. Zack Taylor, (R-Seminole) said. “Indexing benefits would lower UI tax rates from $2.80 to $1.90 per $1,000 of wages in just five years while increasing Oklahoma’s UI fund by $324 million in just three years. That’s smart business sense I believe all Oklahomans should be able to get behind.”

Projections show program dependency could drop by 35% in four years, moving an UI enrollee’s average time on unemployment from 13.4 weeks to 8.7 weeks.

HB 1933 moves back to the House of Representatives for final approval due to a Senate amendment. If approved by the House, it will head to the governor’s desk for his signature.