Washington businesses would get a break on this year's unemployment taxes under a bill approved by the state Senate.
The plan is projected to save Washington employers about $300 million by halting a planned increase in unemployment insurance rates. It also extends federal unemployment benefits for about 70,000 jobless Washingtonians.
The unemployment tax break is a priority for Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire. She says it has to pass both chambers of the Legislature and be signed into law by Feb. 8 to have an effect on this year's unemployment tax rates. Senators approved the bill Friday by a 26-1 vote.
Labor groups have also advocated for a new $15-per-child payment for jobless families, but businesses are wary of adding more benefits. That will be debated later.