RALEIGH, N.C. — Community leaders and advocates for the unemployed are calling on Gov. Pat McCrory to live for one week on the maximum employment benefit of $350 weekly that lawmakers are considering.
Kevin Rogers, policy director for Action NC, which is sponsoring the challenge, says McCrory doesn't understand what it's like to live on so little money.
"Two weeks ago, Governor McCrory gave his cabinet secretaries huge pay raises - quote - so they could afford to live," said Rogers. "Governor McCrory, if your cabinet secretaries can’t afford to live on more than $120,000 a year, how the heck are the rest of us supposed to live on $15,000 a year?"
"On behalf of the more than 400,000 people currently unemployed, we dare him to make the same sacrifice for one week that he's asking the rest of us to make until he can turn this economy around," Rogers said.
A McCrory administration official, speaking on background, dismissed the challenge as a political stunt and refused to say whether the governor would consider accepting it.
A House committee will consider decreasing the maximum unemployment benefit by about a third, from about $535 weekly to $350. Other proposed changes would cut the number of weeks people could receive benefits and would raise the unemployment insurance charges for employers.
Rep. Julia Howard says the proposal would take effect in July. The starting date is important because the federal law averting the fiscal cliff this month gave states federally paid emergency benefits for another year if benefit rules were not changed.
The McCrory official said the governor supports the July start date, even though it would cut off federal long-term jobless benefits to an estimated 80,000 people in North Carolina.