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30 November 2010

Dems Say GOP Mismanaged Unemployment Benefits, PolitiFact Says That's False

Twelve days ago, the Democratic Party of Georgia made the dubious claim that Republicans were to blame for the $454 million owed to the federal government for stepping in and guaranteeing jobless Georgians their unemployment checks.

"[Georgia] Republicans have mismanaged unemployment benefits and now might have to cut them or hike taxes on small businesses," read the Georgia Democratic Party's November 18th Facebook status.

The next day, after researching the state budget for fiscal years 2006 through 2010, I disputed the Democrats' claims.

First, while the General Assembly appropriates the funds for the state unemployment insurance program, it is the Georgia Department of Labor (GADOL) that actually administers the program and oversees the distribution of unemployment benefits. The current head of the GADOL is Democrat Michael Thurmond.

Secondly, Georgia Republicans have held a majority in the state legislature since 2005. In 2006, $46.6 million was appropriated by the GOP-controlled General Assembly to fund the state unemployment insurance program. In 2007, the GOP-led state legislature appropriated $46.8 million. In 2008, the Republicans appropriated $46.8 million. In 2009, the GOP appropriated $60.4 million. And finally, in 2010, they appropriated $56.6 million.

With the exception of 2010, funding for unemployment insurance benefits have increased or stayed at the same level every year.

Where's the mismanagement?

I also emailed PolitiFact Georgia with a request: put the Democratic Party of Georgia's claim to the test on the truth-o-meter. The kind folks at PolitiFact obliged my request, and here's the result:

When Channel 2 Action News recently reported that the state of Georgia has borrowed several hundred million dollars to pay unemployment benefits, state Democratic Party leaders knew who to blame.

"[Georgia] Republicans have mismanaged unemployment benefits and now might have to cut them or hike taxes on small businesses," the party wrote in a Nov. 18 message on its Facebook page.

The claim took us by surprise since the man in charge of unemployment benefits, Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, is a Democrat.

We rate it as False.

Sturgis, Eric (2010-11-30). Democrats: State Republicans to blame for unemployment benefit gap. PolitiFact Georgia. Retrieved on 2010-11-30.

For those keeping score, Georgia Unfiltered - 1; Democratic Party of Georgia - 0.