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Friday, March 25, 2011 - 7:44am

State's Jobless Trust Fund Debt Grows

Georgia’s unemployment trust fund is living on borrowed money, and the first interest payment of $24 million will be due this fall.

The fund ran dry two years ago. Since then, the state’s borrowed more than $650 million from the federal government to cover checks for hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Georgians.

Clare Richie with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says the state got in trouble more than a decade ago, in 1999. At that time, with $2 billion in the fund, she says lawmakers gave most companies a holiday from paying payroll taxes.

“There were laws that continued to be passed that suppressed a trigger that looks at the trust fund and says ‘it’s not healthy enough, it’s time to increase taxes on employers. But that was continually suppressed, and that continues on with legislation that’s being considered this Session.”

House Bill 292 aims to limit the "trigger" on employers. The bill’s supporters say now’s not the time for business tax hikes as the economy recovers.

State labor officials say more than 191,000 Georgians received unemployment insurance payments last week. And that the jobless will get their checks.

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