Golden plan to reduce unemployment tax surcharge clears committee
By Sen. Tim Golden
The Senate Insurance & Labor Committee voted Thursday to give a favorable recommendation to legislation I introduced that would reduce the increase in unemployment tax surcharges that are scheduled to be imposed on Georgia employers to restore the statewide reserve ratio.
The surcharges on unemployment taxes paid by businesses are scheduled under current law to increase from 35 percent to 100 percent effective Jan. 1, 2012. My proposal, SB 151, would soften the blow to employers by authorizing the Commissioner of Labor to limit the surcharge to 50 percent or less instead of the 100 percent increase.
National Federation of Independent Businesses Georgia Director Kyle Jackson said, “This change will help small businesses already struggling in this down economy to avoid a massive spike in their unemployment taxes while at the same time helping to pay down (Georgia’s) current $640 million in debt to the federal government. SB 151 provides short-term relief to small employers; however, I recognize that we also need a long-term solution to our current unemployment insolvency. We applaud the work of Sen. Golden for his efforts to address this important issue.”
SB 151 now awaits action by the full Senate.
Zero-Based Budgeting: Legislation that would require the state to use “zero-based” budgeting was approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday. SB 33, the Waste Reduction Act of 2011, would change the current budgeting process, under which more than 90 percent of the expenditures are rolled over automatically from year to year into a “continuation” budget. Zero-based budgeting would require that all appropriations be examined by legislative budget writers over a four-year period, giving lawmakers another tool for eliminating unnecessary and duplicative spending. SB 33 now goes to the House for its consideration.
Child Safety Seats: The Senate voted Thursday in favor of legislation that would increase the maximum age that children are required to ride in car safety seats from 6 to 8 years. SB 88 would require the use of a child booster seat up to age 8, with an exemption for children who are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches. Similar legislation has also passed in the House of Representatives.
Reservoir Financing: The Senate voted Wednesday to pass legislation that would allow private developers to build reservoirs and other water infrastructure projects for local governments and water utilities. SB 122 would give officials at the local level another tool to finance projects to help meet water needs in their communities. The measure now goes to the House for its consideration.
Unemployment Rate: January’s unemployment rate in Georgia remained at 10.4 percent, an all-time high. The December jobless rate, originally reported at 10.2 percent, was adjusted to 10.4, which is the same rate as January 2010. It was the 40th consecutive month that Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national average, which is now 8.9 percent. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said, “Georgia’s job market for the past year has basically been flat. Although the rate dipped to 10 percent temporarily last summer, for the past seven months, it has trended upward. Other troubling signs are that in the same 12-month period, the number of jobs has shown a miniscule increase, while the number of long-term unemployed has increased significantly.”
Honoring James Eunice: On Feb. 22, the Senate adopted a resolution I introduced in memory of James David Eunice of Valdosta, who died tragically earlier this year at the age of 17. The son of John and Tammy Eunice, James was planning to attend the University of Georgia this fall and play baseball and football for the Bulldogs. As HR 187 states, “for one whose time was so limited, James accomplished something most of us earnestly hope for: he left the world a better place for his having passed through it.”
Senate Schedule: Lawmakers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday, March 7, for Day 25 of the 40-day legislative session.
· State Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta) represents the 8th District (Brooks, Cook, Lowndes & Thomas counties) in the Georgia State Senate. Contact him at 121-G State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30034; by phone at 404-656-7580 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.