McCrory cautious on unemployment insurance during Sunday show interview

Posted January 9, 2014

Gov. Pat McCrory

— Gov. Pat McCrory would not commit to putting North Carolina back into the federal program that provides long-term unemployment benefits during an interview on the N.C. Spin television program this week.

North Carolinians lost access to long-term unemployment benefits last summer after the state changed how much it would pay workers when they first became unemployed. Federally-funded benefits take over after state benefits expire. 

The change in state law violated federal rules and, as of July 1, ended benefits for workers who had exhausted their state unemployment benefits. A bill now moving through Congress would reauthorize the national long-term unemployment program and restore North Carolina's eligibility to participate in the federally funded long-term program.

N.C. Spin host Tom Campbell asked McCrory, a Republican who has just finished his first year in office, if North Carolina would opt in if given the opportunity.

"The answer would be 'no' if the administration or Congress would require us to raise our unemployment compensation above South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee," McCrory said. 

The current federal bill "grandfathers" North Carolina in, meaning North Carolina would not have to change its current benefits system. Contacted after the N.C. Spin taping, a spokesman for McCrory declined to say what the state might do if the final federal bill would require no changes to the state system. 

"We will be happy to provide additional comment if and when that legislation is passed," spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said.

McCrory this week celebrated the drop in North Carolina's unemployment rate over the past year, which he said was evidence state unemployment reforms were working. Economists say that much of the drop in the rate has to do with people dropping out of the workforce rather than new jobs being created.

Asked about this by Campbell, McCrory stood by the state's reforms.

"We had the ninth-most-generous unemployment compensation in the country," McCrory said. "We were having a lot of people move here, frankly, from other areas to get unemployment ... People were moving here because of our very generous benefits, and then, of course, we had more debt. I personally think that more people got off unemployment and either got jobs or moved back to where they came from."

Chris Fitzsimon, director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch think tank and a regular panelist on N.C. Spin, said it would be "tragic" if North Carolina didn't opt into a reauthorized federal program and scoffed at the idea that people would move to North Carolina just to collect unemployment. 

"That is ludicrous, and I'd love to see some evidence that was actually the case," Fitzsimon said. "The labor force is smaller. That doesn't mean they've left the state. That means they've given up. It's astonishing that the governor would make that claim without any evidence to support it."

This week's episode of N.C. Spin will air at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Other highlights from the program include:

  • McCrory continued to publicly back state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos, who leads an agency that has frequently been in the news for problems administering key programs. "The last thing we need to do right now is again have another turnover in management," McCrory said, saying of Wos, "I'm lucky to have her."
  • McCrory said he hoped this year's budget would provide raises for both teachers and state workers. "We've got to have teacher raises," he said, declining to answer what specific proposal he might put forward. "We hope to come up with something pretty soon."
  • Among his key priorities for 2014, McCrory said he would continue to push for changes to the state Medicaid system as a way to control costs and will continue to push the state toward allowing natural gas drilling both on-shore and off. 
  • Asked about other priorities for the coming year, McCrory said, "My wife would kill me if I didn't say a puppy mill bill ... to at least require puppy mills to give basic food and water and shelter." 

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  • ALECarolina Jan 10, 2014

    I agree with you, but we found out this week the the NCGOP didn't really cut unemployment benefits and the maximum amount available per week so they could pay the Federal government back early, which conflicts what the extreme leftist liberal media has been telling us for 8 months!

    The REAL reason is because it's Kay Hagan's fault, according to Phil Berger and Thom Tillis....they never were guilty in the first place, you gotta be careful where you get your news these days. I always suspected Kay Hagan, she IS a liberal democrat, after all.

  • josephlawrence43 Jan 10, 2014

    All you folks crying about cutting off the extended benefits and being hesitant to reinstate them--consider this. NC ALREADY owes the feds $2.5 Billion in extended benefits borrowed from the feds--thats $2.5 Billion the state has to pay back. Also consider this--all-or most--of those extended unemployment benefits ARE TAXABLE FOLKS...So ask yourself which is better--to not extend the unemployment, to pay back the Feds, and fix it so that unemployed people at least won't have to worry about paying taxes on the benefits they receive.? Oh--one more thing...Unemployment is NOT paid for by employees--but by employers...extending the unemployment will simply mean that the employers will have to shell out more, and does anyone want to guess who is really going to end up paying those increased taxes???

  • sixnitepkg Jan 10, 2014

    Of course the GOP doesn't want to take the federal money... because THAT would mean putting all those people back into the count of the unemployment rate! and we'd see our unemployment rate shoot right back up to where it was last year, or maybe even worse! 100% of the drop in the unemployment rate has been due to the GOP taking people out of the count and/or people just plain giving up hope and quitting looking for a job! NONE has been due to increased employment!
    wake up people! In the eyes of the NCGOP you only count as a person if you make more than $100k/yr, the rest of us don't really matter and can rot for all they care! (as long as the rich get richer and the GOP can still fool enough slow witted people to vote against their own best interest, they could give a rip if everybody in the middle class or lower income starved to death)

  • Hippy_mom Jan 10, 2014

    "We were having a lot of people move here, frankly, from other areas to get unemployment ...
    I thought you had to be employed, then given a pink slip in order to collect unemployment, not just "unemployed." What am I missing here?

  • Objective Scientist Jan 10, 2014

    McCrory is NOT the "Leader" that NC very much needs! I am very VERY disappointed in his performance as our Governor - VERY! And... I am neither a Democrat nor Republican, rather a very VERY INDEPENDENT independent!

  • tlightfoot55 Jan 10, 2014

    It IS shameful what McCrony has done, he continues to be in over his head as Governor, to assert that people are moving to NC to collect unemployment without supporting it with facts is astonishing. That statement alone sounds just like the fear mongering I hear on 106 Talk radio in Raleigh. And - he continues to support VOS at DHHS? That department needs a wholesale shakeup and cleanup - it's a disgraceful example of how government is inefficient. And - " my wife would kill me if I dont pass a puppy mill law"....what?? You call that vision for the state of NC...how sad.

  • ccsmith1902 Jan 9, 2014

    He'll have to ask Art first.

  • rob2lw2 Jan 9, 2014

    It is shameful what mccrory has done to the hardest hit folks in nc. In case you don't already know there is not enough jobs and the ones that are available are min. wage/part time jobs. Anyone else notice the crime rate has increased. (in the area that i live in)... business's intake of money is rock bottom...people don't have any money to spend or simply provide for their families....but that's fine with mccrory he get's is money and his friends get the high paying jobs..just my 2 cents....

  • 1rosshurdle Jan 9, 2014

    Really......... What is wrong with the world today. NO COMPASSION! Nobody want's a hand-out if they can help themselves. They make it seem as if we didn't work at all. I ASK MCCRORY TO LIVE ON UNEMPLOYMENT FOR A MONTH AND SEE WHAT PEOPLE GO THROUGH. Heaven help him on judgement day.

  • GOPtakersSociety Jan 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    on the backs of the GOP voter base?
    hmmmmmm lets see how that works in 2014,2016!