Bill to cut unemployment benefits passes Georgia Senate
Earlier today, the Georgia state Senate passed a bill which, if passed by the state House of Representatives, will cut state unemployment benefits by half in some cases. The law is reportedly an attempt to repay some $700 million that it borrowed from the federal government to pay benefits to workers who became unemployed during the recession.
If this bill becomes law, it will likely have a negative effect on the unemployed in Georgia, putting them into deeper debt and causing many to file for bankruptcy or allow their homes to go into foreclosure. Currently, the unemployment rate in Georgia is nearly 10 percent, and well above the federal unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.
Under the current law, unemployed workers can begin receiving unemployment benefits immediately. They then receive a maximum weekly benefit amount of $330, and can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks.
The new law will force unemployed workers to wait a week before their unemployment benefits start. They will then receive benefits for between 12 and 20 weeks, and will still be eligible to receive the maximum weekly benefit amount of $330.
If it passes, the new law will take effect on July 1. People who have already begun receiving unemployment from the state prior to that date will be grandfathered in under the terms of the former law.
When a worker loses their job, they initially file for state unemployment benefits. Once the state benefits are exhausted, federal unemployment kicks in. Recently, President Obama signed a federal unemployment extension that will allow workers to receive benefits through the end of 2012.
We will continue to update our blog on this topic as the bill moves through the legislature.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Senate votes to reduce unemployment payments,” Kristina Torres, Feb. 24, 2012