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Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 9:05am

State Could Cut Jobless Benefits

The state is considering cutting unemployment insurance benefits. It's one of few options to help pay back a $720 million loan from the federal government.

Labor Commissioner Republican Mark Butler says the options aren’t good. They include raising the unemployment tax on employers and cutting benefits.

He says he’s not keen on taxing businesses more especially since the federal portion of the unemployment tax is already going up in in January… 21 dollars per employee.

"Right now our businesses are struggling to get people back to work and to come up with the capital to do so," says Butler. "I think if you hit them with two tax increases that would be detrimental to their hiring process."

Butler says he doesn’t think the state will have any choice but to cut jobless benefits.

Critics say Georgia’s benefits are some of the lowest in the nation. The average recipient gets about $300 a week.

They say Georgia needs to replenish the fund that’s been grossly underfunded for the past decade. They’re pushing a federal bill that would forgive some of the loan while states work through the crisis.