Lawmakers OK deal to pay off unemployment debt

Published On: Mar 30 2012 07:12:12 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 30 2012 08:22:59 AM EDT

The Georgia Legislature has approved compromise legislation that would reduce the number of weeks people could collect unemployment.

The state must pay back more than $760 million borrowed in recent years to cover unemployment benefits. At issue was how to pay that debt and replenish the state's unemployment insurance trust fund. Opponents blasted the plan, which slashes the number of weeks of benefits nearly in half, as harmful to the unemployed.

Unemployment benefits would be reduced from 26 weeks to a sliding scale of between 14 and 20 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate. The compromise also deleted a provision that would've required applicants to wait a week before their benefits would begin.

The bill now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.