At the center of the debate is the issue of unemployment coverage for workers enrolled in worker retraining programs. As we previously reported, that benefit would reach only 1,900 workers. The dependent benefit would affect 167,000. Gregoire, who supports modernizing the UI tax system and preventing an increase in the UI tax on businesses next month, is siding with business groups who prefer the retraining benefit.
Under either proposal, the UI modernization bill would bring in $98 million in federal funds. According to The Ledge, Gregoire opposes the labor-backed dependent benefit because it "would eat up that $98 million in three years," and in addition "Washington already provides a dependent benefit in the state's Workers' Compensation program.