OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that legislators say would effectively end unemployment tax increases on Oklahoma businesses is one step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 1933 passed in the State Senate on Tuesday.

A State Senate news release states that the bill, if signed into law, would index Oklahoma’s unemployment benefits.

The legislation would effectively end unemployment tax increases on Oklahoma businesses by changing the way the state pays unemployment compensation to a tiered system based on the number of weekly claims.

Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, and Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, wrote the bill.

Switching to a tiered system would stabilize the unemployment insurance (UI) fund, accelerate employment growth and lower tax rates, according to Taylor.  

“Lower unemployment taxes allow employers to hire more people and increase wages, a critical component to help address the state’s dire workforce shortage,” Taylor 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.”

The news release says projections show program dependency could decrease by 35 percent in four years, reducing an UI enrollee’s average time on unemployment from 13.4 weeks to 8.7 weeks. The source of the projections were not specified.

“This legislation strengthens Oklahoma’s unemployment system, making it healthier,” Martinez 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.”

The bill now heads back to the House of Representatives for final approval due to a Senate amendment. If the House approves it, it will head to Gov. Kevin Stitt for final approval.