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Bullock Uses CARES Act Dollars To Replenish Unemployment Fund

Governor Bullock talking at a Facebook live conference Apr. 17, 2020.
Montana Public Access Network
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock briefs reporters and the public about developments with the novel coronavirus via a Facebook livestream Apr. 17, 2020.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Wednesday announced he will funnel $200 million of federal coronavirus relief funds to the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Bullock said on a weekly press call more than 100,000 Montanans have received unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. That’s led to a more than $160 million drop in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is supported by a tax paid by Montana businesses.

The amount those businesses pay each year largely depends on the fund’s balance in the fall.

Bullock said most businesses would face an 85 percent tax rate increase starting next month if not for another pool of money.

“Businesses have already been hit hard once due to COVID-19. The last thing we want is to see them hit hard twice, impacting their bottom lines for years to come," he said.

Bullock said he’s funneling $200 million of Montana’s CARES Act money to the state’s unemployment trust fund to prevent that from happening to over 43,000 businesses.

He said individual businesses may still see small shifts in their tax rate but that the state Department of Labor and Industry will not need to raise the overall rates for 2021 and subsequent years.