As Maryland’s General Assembly reconvened in Annapolis Wednesday, Senate President Bill Ferguson said fixing Maryland’s “broken unemployment insurance system” is among his top priorities.
Meeting with reporters after the Senate’s opening session, Ferguson said one way to alleviate the backlog of 41,000 claimants still awaiting unemployment benefits is to beef up the staff.
“It had been gutted prior to the pandemic happening,” he said. “And so we need to mandate a certain personnel hiring standard so that we don't find ourselves having to catch up again.”
He said he also would try to expand the pool of those eligible for benefits to include parents who weren’t fired or laid off but left their jobs voluntarily to stay home with their children who are learning remotely.
“There are thousands of parents in this situation,” he said. “We need to get support to those individuals so that they can hang on as we get through these kind of final, hopefully the final parts of this pandemic.”
He called income replacement through unemployment insurance “the single most important vehicle available” to help people through the pandemic.