Power Breakfast: Georgia’s jobless fund nearly empty, state taxes, Equifax, Home Depot, GE, Japan

Georgia’s fund that sends checks to the unemployed is nearly empty, and legislation in the General Assembly won’t refill it, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

The state may take money from Medicaid and job-creating budgets just to cover the fund’s $24 million interest payment due in October, Chapman reports.

State officials said this week that the legislation, pushed heavily by the tax-averse business community, won’t return the unemployment insurance trust fund to solvency, Chapman writes. So far, the state has borrowed $672 million from Washington to pay tens of thousands of unemployed Georgians. And the tally rises daily.

More than 191,000 Georgians — one of every three jobless people in the state — received unemployment insurance payments last week, according to the Labor Department. The average payment is $269 per week. Labor officials say all jobless recipients will be paid, regardless of the state’s depleted trust fund, Chapman reports.

The recession’s double-digit unemployment, combined with insufficient tax contributions from employers, depleted the trust fund, Chapman writes. Georgia’s wounds, though, are self-inflicted after the state halted payments into the fund by most employers more than a decade ago.

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8 comments Add your comment

seabeau

March 25th, 2011
6:22 am

Raise Taxes on Alcohol. With all the support of Sunday Sales of the stuff, we’ll be in the Pink (Black) in no time.

Road Scholar

March 25th, 2011
7:04 am

Let’s give businesses more tax breaks…as long as they support the unemployed that they lay off! Taxes revenues-expenditures = surplus (-deficit). Just reminding these challenged legislators what the equation is! Just how do they plan to pay for unemployment benefits?

What are the real by the book tax rates and what is the effective tax rates for businesses and residents? How do they change with all the tax breaks? Why not get rid of all tax breaks, except for housing and food?

TnGelding

March 25th, 2011
7:15 am

It’s been empty if they’ve already been borrowing from the feds. In hindsight the suspension of the tax during the Clinton administration was a mistake, but economic growth will solve all ills. And it will happen, it’s just a matter of when. Maybe the employees ought to be paying a small tax, too.

Buzz G

March 25th, 2011
8:05 am

This is what happens when you extend unemployment compensation to two years. Yes, let’s make it three. Then we will all really be in debt. Liberalism is a mental disease.

Former DOL Employee

March 25th, 2011
8:28 am

Buzz G, the maximum number of weeks an individual can collect unemployment benefits paid by the state of Georgia is 26 weeks, and not everyone who applies for UI benefits is awarded 26 weeks of benefits by the state. Anything beyond the max depending on the claimants case, be it 14 weeks, 20 weeks or even 8 weeks are federal dollars. Please educate yourself. Visit GDOL’s website. The money Georgia borrowed from the feds to pay benefits was money for regular claims. All extended benefits are approved by Congress and covered by monies from feds.

Fletch

March 25th, 2011
8:40 am

I have to chime in on this. As one who is VERY familiar with Georgia unemployment law as well as DOL operations, I can tell you exactly what led to the shortfall in one word – RUBBERSTAMP.

I am a huge advocate for UI benefits when they are given to employees who:

1. Lost their job through no fault of their own
2. Lost their job through a RIF or lay off
3. Lost their job through the merger of a company
4. Lost their job because their company went out of business
5. Lost their job because they became ill and could no longer perform the duties for which they were hired.

The above are all LEGITIMATE reasons to pay UI benefits. However, having been through the UI system on behalf of my employer clients, all the way from the initial appeal to the Georgia Superior Court, I can tell you first hand that about 70 to 75% of claims awarded are due to the hearing officer rubberstamoing benefits. Luckily I’m able to get a favorable ruling 90% of the time either on the first appeal or by the Board of Review, but in order to get there I have to sit and listen to claimants blatantly lie about their performance in the hopes of getting a free check (which by the way is a pretty small amount to begin with).

Examples of this are:

1. Terminated for attendance
2. Poor job performance
3. Policy violations
4. Insubordination

All the above are controllable by the EMPLOYEE.

Here are just a few of the excuses that I’ve heard over my career wheen an employee feels they should be given benefits.

1. I couldnt get to work on time because I have to get my kids to school
2. I HAD to take time off because my kids were sick
3. No one told me that I could be terminated for not finishing my work on time
4. No one told me that that I could be fired for tardiness
5. Yes I quit my job, but I have kids and I needed better hours
6. I wasn’t getting enough hours, so I filed for unemployment
7. I thought that I could get unemployment benefits to make up the difference in my check. I heard it was part of the stimulus bill.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. The only bright spot, is that once i get a reversal, the claimant is required to pay all benefits accrued back to the state. The downside, they rarely do.

If the state would only allow benefits under the provisions set forth in their own employment laws, they wouldn’t need to borrow from the Fed at the rate of 1.5 million dollars a day.

Ron

March 25th, 2011
9:06 am

Georgia’s official unemployment rate is 10.2%. This number has changed three times over the past sixty days so it’s questionable. Georgia’s real unemployment rate is around 18%. This is the Fed’s estimate of the number of unemployed and underemployed. These percentages mean that close to 500,000 people are unemployed and an additional 400,000 are underemployed. This is almost one-fith (1/5) of Georgia’s workforce. With this many people out of work (or earning less) there has to be extraordinary financial pressure on the “safety nets”, that is to say unemployment benefits.

TnGelding

March 25th, 2011
9:39 am

“Maybe the employees ought to be paying a small tax, too.”

The same amount as the employer until the loans are repaid?