GOP muscles jobless benefits cuts to House floor

Posted January 31, 2013

— The Republican majority of the House Finance Committee beat back efforts Thursday morning to soften legislation slashing jobless benefits as part of an overhaul of the state unemployment system.

After a 23-13 party line vote, House Bill 4 is expected to go to a floor vote Monday night.

The bill cuts the maximum weekly unemployment benefit from $535 to $350 and replaces 26 weeks of state-paid benefits with a sliding cap of 12 to 20 weeks, based on the health of North Carolina's economy. It also slightly raises unemployment insurance taxes on employers.

Analysts said the changes would help the state repay $2.5 billion to the federal government three years faster than leaving the system unchanged. North Carolina borrowed the money to pay jobless benefits during the recession.

"This is going to cost us jobs if we don't act," said Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan. "It's not an easy solution."

Other Republicans voiced similar regrets about cutting jobless benefits but said the state needs to get its unemployment insurance system on sound financial footing.

"We need to emphasize putting people back to work rather than compensating them for being unemployed," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.

Proposed amendments by Rep. Paul Tine, D-Dare, to set the maximum benefit at $425 a week and raise taxes on employers a bit more and by Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, to use a 1993 formula for calculating benefits were defeated by party-line votes. The GOP didn't even allow votes on two other amendments, calling them out of order.

Jobless, unemployed generic Dems: Jobless to bear brunt of changes to unemployment system

House Finance Committee votes on unemployment reform House Finance Committee votes on unemployment reform

Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, pleaded with the committee for more balance to the bill. He noted that the benefit cuts amount to about $225 million taken out of the pockets of unemployed people statewide, while the tax increases on employers would total only $20 million.

"The unemployed were not at the table when this deal was cut. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise," Luebke said, calling the benefit cuts "reprehensible."

If approved, the changes would take effect July 1, ending federal unemployment benefits received by thousands of North Carolina residents who have been out of work for months. The benefits would have continued through the end of 2013 under a bill Congress passed on New Year's Day to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," but changing the state unemployment benefits voids that provision of the federal law.

The committee debated the bill for more than 90 minutes before allowing four minutes of public comment by representatives of the N.C. Justice Center and the AFL-CIO.

"It's not balanced," Bill Rowe, general counsel and director of advocacy for the Justice Center, said of the bill. "Employees will be paying more than 70 percent of this debt in reduced benefits."

Rowe urged lawmakers to let the bill sit in committee for at least a week to give their constituents a chance to voice their opinion on the proposal.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • raleighro Feb 1, 2013

    Look at all of the complainers on here. There is a reason Bev didn't run again, the same reason Mccrory was elected. The people put him in to fix the huge financial mess that the dems put the state in. You people just don't get it, if the money isn't there, you can't spend it! You talk about the GOP not caring about people, you say that people are in so much trouble that they need the help. It doesn't matter if they need it desperately, THERE IS NO MONEY! If you make 500 a week, and your bills add up to 900 a month what do you do? You have no choice but to cut back. How do you expect the government to run on a different set of rules? Let's put this in more perspective. You are making 500 a week, bills are 900 a month, and the guy next door is going hungry. You people that cry about how much people need unemployment would take money from your 500, putting you even further in the hole to buy him food? I don't think so. See, it's simple math people.

  • tigo7 Feb 1, 2013

    As business is regulated to the extent there are no businesses and therefore jobs to be had, then this reduces business revenues and therefore taxes going into the IRS/Feds and the State and that is part of the money that pays for the unemployment benefits so this is not FREE money. The well can run dry as there are more people needing govt benefits than there are working and paying into the reserve that pays out the benefits. Business can not expand and grow if the business has too many unknowns such as how much it costs to do business and so many regulations can prevent business growth and not knowing exactly how much health care is going to cost is also a factor. Just wait until 2 years from now it is probably not going to get better.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 1, 2013

    St Ives - "I hope all who voted Republican remember this when it comes the tme they lose their job this Summer. I believe the saying is SOL"

    I hate to point this out, but this mistake was made when Democrats were in office, and it was further compounded by Democrats holding office for decades who repeatedly lowered the rates of Unemployment Insurance premiums paid for by businesses in this state, letting the Fund for it get seriously low.

    The Fund was audited a few years back by an independent company who advised them to up the rates. They didn't.

    And someone in this state kept voting to re-elect them.


    Are the vast majority of us really this dumb?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 1, 2013

    oleguy -

    "A 10.00 Job will be the norm." Who gets $10 an hour?

    "Adjust your life style" What makes you think no one has?

    "I feel sorry for people raised in entitlement life by the Govt,, That is over,,,Get out get a job, help your neighbor, Barter, Cut Back." Tell that to someone who's blind or deaf or elderly. Tell it to someone who worked and paid into the system already for 47 years and now is sick or disabled and is of retirement age.

    "save" How does one save when one has little to nothing?

    "One car, one phone ,one TV, set the thermo to 65 winter, 80 summer, open the windows spring an fall," Yeah, we already do that.

    "plant a garden, get chickens" Many areas have restrictive covenants prohibiting that.

    "Those of us over 50 have lived just as well with a lot less" Yep, and I'm blessed I did, because now I know how to live on little, but I also recognize there are those who didn't grow up like that and need help, if in no more than educating them how to do so.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 1, 2013

    Sarge - "You have to prove it, therein lies the crux."

    Shouldn't have to prove it when there's a Federal DOE who should be investigating this stuff by reviewing the paperwork required to be kept for one year by each and every employer.

    If that paperwork showed people of all ages being interviewed and hired, then that employer is fair.

    If that paperwork shows only the young being hired, perhaps not, and the investigator should begin to see red flags and ask questions.

    The problem is, the Federal DOE isn't doing all of they could do to ensure no age discrimination is occurring.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 1, 2013

    whiffer -

    I agree.

    And your story is the RULE nowadays, not the EXCEPTION, nor is it a story of someone laying back not doing anything to get a job, which is also an EXCEPTION nowadays.

    If people would do their own research on this (or face the situation themselves) before commenting, not only would they look wiser, there'd be more compassion shown in their thoughts and comments.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Feb 1, 2013

    Raleigh Rocks - "Where the heck does it come from?"

    Well, as has been shared here DOZENS OF TIMES BEFORE, unemployment is supported by Unemployment Insurance premiums paid for by every single employer in this state having at least 50 employees or more.

    Their premium amount is calculated based upon their layoff record; if they rarely layoff employees, their premium is low; however, if they have a lousy layoff record, their premium is high. They pay this premium regularly, either monthly or quarterly. The only way this would cost taxpayers is perhaps indirectly through the cost of doing business with these employers - so it pays to do business with companies having a good layoff record rather than a lousy one.

    If the unemployment compensation is cut, many will then qualify for welfare/food stamps which are funded by taxpayers.

    So, it seems this is just another way to ease the burden of employers in this state and shift it onto the taxpayer which is shameful to me, in many ways.

  • whiffer1 Feb 1, 2013

    The GOP had better tread lightly on this issue. I for one take a very dim view of cutting UI benefits so drastically. As someone had been gainfully employed for over 30 years and was laid off at the pit of the recession the benefits allowed me to stay afloat for the almost 10 months it took me to find employment. And to those who have never experienced this I'll just say I was a top performer in my field of sales earning an above average income. I applied to hundreds of positions within a 100 mile radius and over 10 months had only 5 interview request. The position I eventually accepted was at a salary almost half what I was making. I was happy to get it and after 2 years of dedication and hard work I am almost back to my old level of earnings. So I simply say it is not right to go and pull the rug out from under those really trying to recover.

  • goldenosprey Feb 1, 2013

    "GrandOnion said..Of course unemployment payments stimulated the economy during the recession. How could they not as the put money into the economy that otherwise would not be there.

    Well You have lost all credibility now. ..Otherwise would not be there???? Where the heck does it come from? Gov. Takes it from somewhere and if they did not take it, and take a cut for distributing it..."Raleigh Rocks 1

    Better re-do your clueless check. Money paid in UI benefits is immediately put back into the economy as the newly unemployed decide which bills to pay. Otherwise the money would most likely be hoarded by the former job creator -who does not spend it to create a job. Or the funds are parked offshore. This is basic econ RR1.

  • goldenosprey Feb 1, 2013

    "Now if everyone could earn six figures that would be fine but they can't, many simply don't have the skills to do so and even if they did there are only so many six figure jobs.

    Grand Union

    so you are trying to say that those who got off their rear and took advantage of opportunity should make up for those that didn't?

    I know a lot of people who "earn" high incomes who spend an awful lot of time on their rear, while their subordinates scramble for barely better than sustenance wages. Accumulation of wealth does not necessarily equal hard work, nor does it necessarily equal moral virtue. The reverse is true also.