@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

McCrory says feds should have acted on unemployment

Posted July 8, 2013
Updated July 9, 2013

— Gov. Pat McCrory said it was Democrats in Washington, D.C., who failed to avert a change that removed benefits for 72,000 unemployed North Carolina workers.

"Our goal is to get people back to work in North Carolina," McCrory told reporters Monday. He brought up the issue as part of review of his first six months in office. 

Earlier this year, North Carolina changed the duration and generosity of state benefits. That, in turn, triggered federal provisions that ended federally funded long-term unemployment benefits, which up until July 1 provided help for those out of work longer than 26 weeks.

North Carolina is the only state in the nation to trigger this provision.

"The debt we owe the federal government, last I checked, has not been forgiven by the administration in Washington. Nor has the waiver been accepted that we requested many months ago," McCrory said. "The waiver was not accepted by the Obama administration and, had it been, we most likely would be extending unemployment.

"Since it wasn't, it was an issue that we had to make a decision. Do we stay in increasing our debt at a rate we couldn't afford, or do we cut in half the credit card? I think we ought to cut in half the credit card, with the goal of solving the debt on small businesses ... and working to get people back to work," McCrory said.

That outline of the unemployment situation is problematic for several reasons:

The Debt: The state of North Carolina did not, and does not, owe the debt. That money was borrowed to pay unemployment claims, but it is owed by the state's employers. Businesses pushed state lawmakers to make changes to the unemployment program because they did not like seeing their per-employee costs go up. But many employers paid little or no state unemployment insurance through the 1990s and the 2000s. That left North Carolina with a smaller reserve fund than needed when the recent recession hit. Some lawmakers have discussed issuing bonds to repay the debt, which State Treasurer Janet Cowell has discouraged specifically because North Carolina would be taking over the liability it doesn't currently owe. 

Forgiveness: McCrory suggested that the Obama administration could forgive some or all of the debt accumulated to pay reinsurance claims. That prerogative actually rests with Congress, which has the power to appropriate money. McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo acknowledged that McCrory misspoke on this point. However, she pointed out that North Carolina's federal delegation had not acted on this matter. Earlier this year, Republican legislative leaders called on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, to prevail on her party's leaders in the Senate to grant North Carolina an exemption from the trigger law. But they did not ask her to forgive the debt.

Grandfathering: As noted, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger asked Hagan to help ensure North Carolina was "grandfathered" as a state that could change its unemployment program. Again, McCrory suggested that was something that the Obama administration could do. In reality, Congress grandfathered four states, but the Obama administration could not do it on its own.

22 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • rowdya Jul 18, 12:39 p.m.

    Liar, liar, pants engulfed in flames and fire.

  • kliberto Jul 12, 9:50 p.m.

    McCrory and his GA should be charged with crimes against humanity. They have hurt thousands of people in NC purely out of spite.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 12, 8:00 p.m.

    Geez, we need [Like] buttons here. Some very good comments have been posted here today.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 12, 7:55 p.m.

    "We have to stop re-electing people who lie, cheat or steal, along with those who don't keep campaign promises."

    Or are just plain stupid!!!

    "Unless we do, nothing will change, in NC or in DC."

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 12, 7:36 p.m.

    twtts1000 - "Better start making those Employers pay..."

    That's what NC's new unemployment laws will do, and while I agree with it, because during the Dem's administrations, employers got off easy in this state via unemployment insurance premium rates, this will now be a bitter pill for them to swallow, and instead of fostering more jobs which the unemployed of this state can apply for, it will mean LESS jobs for them to apply for.

    So this is just another area the politicians of this state have shot the citizens of this state in the foot with.

    We have to stop re-electing people who lie, cheat or steal, along with those who don't keep campaign promises.

    Unless we do, nothing will change, in NC or in DC.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 12, 7:32 p.m.

    Oh Baloney!!!

    Does he really expect us to believe this rubbish when we read about this daily for weeks before he let this get away from him due to non-action?

    He is the one who refused to sign the papers that would have brought Federal extensions to this state.

    He said he didn't want to make any changes to what was in place so they could pay back what we owed the Feds for past extensions back EARLY.

    And he saddled that debt upon some of the neediest in the state - people who will now have to go on welfare and food stamps just to survive, welfare and food stamps which the taxpayers of NC will pay for.

    So tell me Gov, how did YOUR actions regarding Federal unemployment benefits get the citizens of this state ahead?

    YOU effectively shot us all in the foot, starting with the unemployed.

    Nice job!!!

    < sarcasm >

  • outnaboutnc Jul 11, 3:20 p.m.

    Which staffer is watching the Governor this week to make sure he makes sense when he opens his mouth? Apparently no one. Any chance we can stop all the political finger pointing and get down to running the state and the country?

  • geoherb1 Jul 9, 2:35 p.m.

    Why let facts get in the way? It's much better to steamroll ahead. The poor will always be with us.

  • krimson Jul 9, 2:35 p.m.

    "But many employers paid little or no state unemployment insurance through the 1990s and the 2000s"

    Better start making those Employers pay...

  • melanie3 Jul 9, 1:47 p.m.

    democrats warned the republicans is was too late - it was past the deadline to get a waiver from the feds so do not let them succeed with not taking responsibility. Aren't you republicans always yelling about taking responsibility? Make the people you elect do it so - you can vote for them but do it honestly. Regarding jobs.. how many govt jobs have the republicans demanded be cut? the constant tax cuts require social cuts which aren't just something that exists on paper. The great recession came, the gotp took the nation hostage over the debt ceiling and tens of thousands of govt jobs were cut across the nation, now more with the sequester that was the result of trying to find a way to make the gotp actually negotiate not just demand more cuts even more are being lose and wages lost which results in less spending - even if you don't care about the poor people in this nation, the middle class is being destroyed by the gotp - if you vote for them at least be honest about it.

More...