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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state program that pays unemployment benefits is running out of money because of the growing number of jobless New Mexicans, and that could force a tax increase on employers next year.
Gov. Bill Richardson and the Legislature must decide how to keep the unemployment insurance trust fund solvent. It's yet another politically thorny problem confronting lawmakers when they convene in January for a 30-day session.
Among the options under consideration: higher taxes on businesses and cutting unemployment benefits.
About $1 million a day is paid out on unemployment claims in New Mexico, according to the state Workforce Solutions Department.
A business leader warns that higher taxes during a recession could force companies to lay off workers or close their doors, worsening the state's economic problems.
"The more we tax business, the less able they are to produce a product and drive more revenue back into the state," said Terri Cole, president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. "There has got to be a better way to handle this problem than raising taxes on the business community at the most difficult time in our history."
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