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ESC processing checks for restored jobless benefits

Posted June 6, 2011

Unemployment
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— The state Employment Security Commission has already started processing checks for people whose unemployment benefits were cut off in April, officials said Monday.

After seven weeks of political wrangling with Republican lawmakers, Gov. Beverly Perdue issued an executive order Friday extending federally funded unemployment benefits for an extra 20 weeks.

The ESC immediately starting processing checks, and many will start arriving in people's mailboxes this week, agency spokesman Larry Parker said.

The aid is retroactive to the April 16 cutoff, Parker said.

"It's a life line to these people. Every week they have to make a bill payment somehow, and now that these benefits are restored, they are going to be able to do that," he said. "That money not only pays their bills, but it also goes back into the local economy."

The U.S. Department of Labor ordered the state to halt the extended benefits program in April because of improvement in the statewide unemployment rate. The program provided an additional 20 weeks of federal benefits after people had exhausted all other state and federal unemployment benefits.

The Republican majority in the General Assembly passed a bill that would have allowed the benefits to start flowing again, but they linked it to cuts in state spending if a state budget wasn't passed by June 30. Perdue vetoed the measure, calling it "extortion."

Lawmakers now have rolled the extension into the $19.7 billion budget that they passed late last week.

Perdue has criticized the spending plan because of the education cuts it includes, and she is considering whether to veto it.

Bev Perdue Perdue insists she has right to restore benefits

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said it's unclear whether the governor had the authority to order the resumption of the benefits without legislative action, but Perdue issued a statement Monday assert that her actions were legal.

"It would have been better if the legislature had done the right thing and sent me a bill that would extend these benefits as I repeatedly requested, but they repeatedly refused," she said. "So. I ultimately found a way to do this myself."

Perdue's staff said the U.S. Department of Labor reviewed the executive order and approved the language in it.

"Given the demonstrated willingness of the Republican leaders in the legislature to use unemployed workers as political pawns, I will not be surprised if they try to stop these benefits from reaching unemployed North Carolinians," the governor said.

People with questions about the extended benefits can call the ESC toll-free at 1-866-795-8877 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. this week.

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  • whatusay Jun 7, 2011

    I can't believe there are some here that believe this money just "falls from the sky, or a big piggy bank". They have no idea where money comes from. Thaty's the problem with the democrat mentality. Government is not the answer...government is the problem by making Americans dependent on it for survival. Democrats believe in big government, republicans believe in hard work and the right to keep what they earn. Democrats believe in "spread the wealth", they learned that from Obama, which means, take from someone else.

  • whatusay Jun 7, 2011

    We will eventually all live off the government if the democrats have their way.

  • Thinkaboutitfirst Jun 7, 2011

    "...yet I have had to take pay cuts and struggle to make ends meet while still working 45+ hours a week, yet they are sitting by the pool this summer continuing to get paid to do so a year and a half later. Must be nice...maybe I wasn't so lucky to keep my job." jlcoop June 6, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Overtime... that there is part of the problem. Employers are working less people and gaining more revenue. As long as the employers can do more with less, then they will. I did the same thing (work my tail off) to keep my job while the company had layoffs twice a year for several years. My time finally came to be laid off. I was glad to do whatever I could to keep my job.

  • winderwoman1 Jun 7, 2011

    Thank you, Bev, for finding a way to do what's right. You found a legal way around the Republican extortion and hostage taking. I'm proud that we have a governor with your compassion and courage. You'll have my vote!

  • ecualumni1982 Jun 7, 2011

    After its all said and done, eveyone is going to pay higher taxes! NC is'nt one of the northern states with huge amounts of waste, we do have alot, but in no way, shape or form will improvements in efficiency and services equal 1 Billion dollars! And, laying off state workers (e.g. teachers, faculty, and staff) is like shooting your kids in the foot, then telling them they can one day be in the NBA. NC's education system already ranks as one of the worst nationally and especially globally, so it seems stupid to think cutting the budget will produce strong students/work force.

  • aetius476 Jun 7, 2011

    RB: "Will you accept the challenge?" Personally, I have 3 jobs. I don't like to put all my eggs in 1 basket. I also worked hard to train myself to offer a service as an independent contractor when I have the time (another back-up). 7 years ago, when I was laid off and could not find work, I started my own business and supported my family for 3 years that way (very hard and we had to live carefully). Currently I frequently turn down bookkeeping and accounting work because I have more than I can handle. There is plenty of work out there, but you have to hustle. Mailing out resumes and waiting for a phone call is useless. I understand why many of you would prefer to live off UE benefits and claim that there are no jobs. I just don't agree with that lifestyle choice. Hopefully, our lawmakers will realize that handing out borrowed money to potential voters cannot be sustained. Maybe then we will move forward and get back to work as a nation.

  • djofraleigh Jun 7, 2011

    Why did she wait any amount of time to do it if she had the power all along?

  • cantstandya Jun 7, 2011

    What happened to all the money that was collected from employers during the times we had low unemplyment and the economy was thriving,back when Bill Clinton was in office,there should have been a fair amount not used or if it was what for?

  • Nancy Jun 6, 2011

    The gravy train of endless benefits will hit the end of the track soon enough.

    We're borrowing this money from the feds, with interest. Where do the feds get it? China.

    Who's paying the bill? The less than 60% who actually pay federal taxes - you know, the ones who don't get 'earned income tax credits' and welfare and every other social handout our state and federal governments give?

    More than 40% pay no federal income tax but get money back from the feds (countrywide). How long do you think the ones who actually work can pick up the ever increasing tab?

  • emeraldjewelryqueen Jun 6, 2011

    I would like to know what is the actual percentage of the unemployed as a whole here in North Carolina vs other states.

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