Dozens of business organizations on Wednesday urged state lawmakers to include as much as $3 billion in aid to replenish New York's unemployment insurance system in order to provide tax relief in the state budget. 

The letter sent to top Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly comes as budget proposals from those chambers are expected to be released in the coming days amid the broader negotiations over Gov. Kathy Hochul's $216 billion spending plan. 

Businesses in New York have struggled with unemployment insurance costs during much of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York's fund is more than $9 billion in debt which must be repaid to the government with interest. 

Unemployment claims skyrocketed during the pandemic, and joblessness in many parts of the state remained inflated during the crisis. 

“As long as the state remains in debt, businesses will continue to pay the highest-possible state UI tax rates with increased federal tax rates and special assessments in the coming months,” said Ashley Ranslow, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “Businesses have fought through endless challenges due to the pandemic and are urgently striving for economic recovery

Lawmakers are being urged to have state officials apply for federal pandemic relief in an effort to stabilize the unemployment insurance fund or address outstanding debt. 

So far, 32 states in the country have made similar applications for relief on their unemployment systems.  

"This recovery is impeded by enormous UI tax bills that will continue for more than a decade if New York State chooses not to act. Historic UI claims and costs are a direct result of state mandates, restrictions, and shutdowns during the pandemic," Ranslow said. "Burdening small businesses with the entirety of these costs cannot be the solution. The State must allocate money to UI in this year’s budget.”