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Dems say McCrory staffers tried to shape legislative response on unemployment insurance reform

Posted June 5, 2013

— Democratic legislative leaders say the McCrory administration inappropriately tried to influence how legislative staff members answered questions about changes to the state's unemployment insurance system earlier this year. 

Administration officials say they were merely trying to provide information to offices that would likely be getting a lot of questions about changes to the unemployment system. 

Specifically, the Democratic leaders say that aides to Democratic lawmakers should not have been summoned to a meeting held by Commerce Department officials on Monday that laid out how the Commerce Department thought callers objecting to changes in the state's unemployment insurance system ought to be answered.

"We find it highly inappropriate for any office of your administration to seek to dictate the actions of our staff without our consent or knowledge and hope your office will offer notification to legislators before conducting any such meetings in the future," Sen. Martin Nesbitt and Rep. Larry Hall, the Democratic leaders in the Senate and House, wrote in a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory

Changes to the system will cut the amount of benefits for which those seeking unemployment insurance will qualify and would change the rules for how long someone could stay on unemployment and what sort of jobs they may be forced to take. The changes also cutoff long-term benefits paid for by the federal government to roughly 70,000 people. 

“It’s clear that high-level officials in the McCrory administration recognized the harm of their policies to struggling families and sought to minimize political damage by influencing legislative staff without the knowledge of their employers," Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt said. "But more importantly, it’s inappropriate for high-level officials to be using the weight of their office to push political messages to legislative staff without informing legislators."

Dale Folwell, a former Republican lawmaker who is now an assistant commerce secretary overseeing the unemployment insurance system, says he doesn't understand the objection.

"We were just trying to help answer questions and give them a place to redirect questions," Folwell said Wednesday. "We've had a lot of calls from (legislative assistants) saying that nobody had thought to inform them about the changes." 

Folwell described the meeting as "voluntary" and said it was meant, in part, to introduce legislative assistants to the employment security staff.

"Would they not have wanted us to provide information?" Folwell asked, saying that he didn't understand the objection. "They're griping about us providing customer service." 

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  • jackjones2nc Jun 6, 2013

    During an economic recovery, unemployment insurance is significantly beneficial to overall growth. This type of income is spent immediately; this spending generates short-term growth which helps prevent further unemployment. Obviously it's not sustainable in the long-term, but only the ignorant or diabolical would demonize it in difficult times.

  • lem07 Jun 5, 2013

    Isn't State unemployment a state administered program that is funded by taxes paid by employers on their employees? The the money owed to the federal govt is actually paid back by increased NCUI101 taxes not by the employed residents of NC?

    So, it decreases the money to those in need and increases the taxes on the businesses that have employees. WOW, that is some good legislation! Go GOP, y'all are all over it.

  • caryzoo Jun 5, 2013

    Staffers...staffers, with just a few years of working full time behind them. Huh. They suddenly know what it is like to work full time for 800 a week (after 20 yrs experience) and these STAFFERS are so comfortable and SECURE in their jobs they can, with lack of life and experience TELL McCrory what he should be doing? WOW. Apparently, Mr. McCrory seems to be a puppet of sorts. I thought you meant well, Mr. McCrory, A Dem, I thought you could help. You have turned this state so far backwards, only the desperate will move here. I am ashamed of my vote. Nothing, nothing, good has come of your election. I am sorry for voting for you. You do not have the capability to control your own House and Senate.They have gotten power hungry, passing anything they want. No matter the cost to everyday people. Can you fix this...or not? If not, make some hard decisions on who to vote into your inner circle. It is clear, the party you ran with has no, NO control at all.

  • caryzoo Jun 5, 2013

    Typical of Republicans in this state...do what you want, explain...or TRY to explain it later. Their (republicans) staffers are so NOT in touch with..well.anything. Sad we have to pay people for knowing nothing. I thought this bunch wanted honest government, less government. So far, they are failing badly. I wanted something better. I have only gotten something LESS educated and informed. I am so sorry for anyone (including myself...I am SO SORRY!)who voted for these...um..less than knowledgeable people?

  • sisu Jun 5, 2013

    Dale Folwell, a former Republican lawmaker who is now an assistant commerce secretary overseeing the unemployment insurance system, says he doesn't understand the objection.

    "We were just trying to help answer questions and give them a place to redirect questions," Folwell said Wednesday. "We've had a lot of calls from (legislative assistants) saying that nobody had thought to inform them about the changes."

    LMHO.

    Seriously. What would they be doing being staffers if they don't know basic legislative information?

    Puhleeze. I'd say "nice try" but it doesn't even warrant that.

  • Singlemalt Jun 5, 2013

    42, let's live in what we have on our hands today. Which party passed the MANY UI extensions which were federally funded? Sorry if you take issue on others actually paying their fair share as well.

    Top 20%? They pay 94% of income taxes.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 5, 2013

    "42, the state is bleeding after all the non-stop entitlement programs. What is your solution to repay the federal government the 2.5B we owe them?" Singlemalt

    The GOP cut the Budget and raised taxes on 80% of NC. What did they spend that money on?

    A. A sweet tax break for the top 20%.

  • Singlemalt Jun 5, 2013

    42, the state is bleeding after all the non-stop entitlement programs. What is your solution to repay the federal government the 2.5B we owe them?

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 5, 2013

    From the talking points: "The best thing we can do is show care and compasion..."

    LOL is that the same "care and compassion" the GOP had when they voted to cancel the benefits.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 5, 2013

    When the unemployed call to ask about their cancelled benefits have the call redirected to GOP leadership: Tillis, Berger, McCrory, Dollar.

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