Unemployed in South Carolina will continue to get benefits

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, December 31, 2008

AIKEN, S.C. --- Jobless South Carolina residents will continue to receive unemployment benefits. Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday announced he will request a federal loan of $146 million to pay the benefits though March.

It's long lines, along with a wait and see game that Melisa Fazekas has been dealing with since April. She is a mother of two and has been going to the Aiken Unemployment Office to find work and see if she is eligible to receive unemployment.

"It's nerve racking whether or not you're going to get accepted for it or whether or not they tell you they can't give it to you," says Melisa. She does have a temporary seasonal job now, but it's not enough to have her survive for the whole year.

"You have kids at home, you need this," she says. "You need the money to make ends meet, house payments, car payments."

Its those payments she shouldn't have a problem making for the time being, thanks to Governor Mark Sanford. On Wednesday, he asked for a $146 million loan from the federal government to help pay benefits to those out of work.

"We deserve it," says Melisa. "You work all of these years thinking it's going to be there."

The loan will keep the money flowing through March. But then, the clock could strike midnight again.

The problem is the same for Michael Thayer. He's been collecting unemployment, while scrolling through the job page at the unemployment office since Augusta.

"I'm between a rock and a hard spot," says Michael. "What am I supposed to do next if unemployment is cut off?"

It's a question many hope doesn't have to be answered in March, or anytime for that matter. "Hopefully I find a job by then," says Michael.

It all came down to the last hour because the governor wanted the Employment Security Commission to agree in writing to an audit. He says they need to become more accountable with their money. He did not want those who are out of work to suffer from the problems of the agency. He gave the Commissioners a stern warning too. If they do not comply with an audit, which lawmakers are trying to request as well, they will pay the price with their jobs.

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