- Valdosta, GA - March 14, 2012 -
Out of work job seekers count on unemployment benefits to get them through the day.
But the Georgia Department of Labor is going into crisis mode, because the Trust Fund for Unemployment Benefits is drowning in debt.
Now Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that will help pull Georgia up by its bootstraps.
Some people in Valdosta depending on unemployment benefits tell WCTV how important they are to their families.
"We have three children and they give us assistance, any assistance we need with food and anything else we need to get us through the season," says Christina Gay.
"It's definitely important. It's definitely a benefit to the community with a lack of jobs and it definitely helps families," John Thompson told Gullberg.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says tax breaks from previous Commissioners paired with the economic recession sent Georgia down a perilous path and it's a long climb back up.
Over the phone from Atlanta, Ga. Labor Department Press Secretary Tom Krause explains the plan.
"And we want to share the burden between increased payments on employers and on people who will be receiving unemployment benefits in the future," said Krause.
Plans include reducing the number of weeks of unemployment benefits offered by the state, longer waiting periods for new clients and increased payment obligations from businesses.
None of that will affect current clients; just future ones.
The Labor Department has been working with lawmakers trying to get a bill passed. They say there are some promising bills floating around the House and Senate, but nothing that has been signed off on yet.
Georgia law makers have until the end of the Legislative Session to pass any bills. The session is expected to end in late April.