Kemp to spend $1.5B in aid to bail out Georgia unemployment system

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp(WRDW)
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 7:15 AM EDT
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ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he will use $1.5 billion in federal relief funds to bail out the state’s unemployment system.

Kemp made the announcement Wednesday, saying the move would shield businesses from a possible unemployment tax increase.

However, Kemp is choosing against another large wave of grants to city and county governments.

That’s upsetting some officials like Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who say the money should have been available to local governments.

According to the governor’s office, the allocation will save the average Georgia employer approximately $350 per year for each employed worker.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to nearly every business - large and small - and upended the lives of millions of Georgians,” Kemp in a statement. "Through no fault of their own, thousands of people became unemployed overnight, businesses were shut down, and countless families suffered. Today’s announcement will save Georgia employers millions of dollars in state and federal unemployment taxes, prevent significant layoffs, and save the state millions of dollars in interest payments.

The governor’s office states by the end of 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor estimates that the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will have borrowed a total of $1.5 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Georgia’s labor force.

Kemp is reserving $400 million in remaining aid for other coronavirus expenses, including possibly a smaller amount for local governments.

Georgia is currently borrowing money from the federal government to pay jobless benefits because its unemployment account ran dry in September.

From reports by The Associated Press and WTOC.