Tennessee, Georgia governors may reject unemployment stimulus funds

Tennessee, Georgia governors may reject unemployment stimulus funds

February 23rd, 2009 by Herman Wang in Local - Breaking News

President Barack Obama addresses the National Governors Association regarding the economic stimulus package, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. From left are: Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the president, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON - Tennessee and Georgia may turn down some of the economic stimulus money targeted for unemployment benefits.

Turning down the money would be necessary if restrictions outlined in the package cause budgetary hardship in the future, the states' governors said today after emerging from a meeting with President Barack Obama.

"We are evaluating this piece of money, whether it makes sense for us to take it," Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said. "We may well be one of the states that say we can't take on that portion of it."

The money in question - millions of dollars to each state - would require an expansion of unemployment insurance, a continuing obligation that some governors have criticized as an unfunded mandate.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said while most of the stimulus package is welcome money for his state, he is concerned that the strings attached to the unemployment funds could cause Georgia to raise unemployment taxes when the stimulus money runs out in two years.

"We won't compromise if we're left with filling a hole that requires higher taxes for Georgia businesses at the end of it," he said.

Both governors stressed that they are still evaluating all the details of the stimulus bill and that no decisions have been made yet on rejecting any funding.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.