Dems, jobless call for benefits vote

Posted April 19, 2011
Updated April 20, 2011

A handful of jobless North Carolinians joined Democratic legislators today to ask Republican leaders to quit playing politics with federal unemployment benefits.

H383, a measure that would allow 37,000 people to continue to receive jobless benefits, was vetoed by Governor Bev Perdue this weekend after Republican legislators tied it to a budget cut provision. GOP leaders said today they’ll try to override the veto, but House Republicans can’t do it without Democratic votes.

Senate Democrats today urged the GOP leadership to move ahead with an up-or-down vote on the benefit extension itself, with no political games. Senate Bill 584, waiting in committee, would do precisely that, said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt.

“There’s not one reason in the world to wait on an override when we have a bill sitting in committee we can run,” Nesbitt said. “These are very desperate people. Can you imagine the predicament they’re in after being unemployed for 79 weeks?”

Nesbitt and other Democrats also expressed concern that many of those whose checks are held up may also have been victims of the past weekend’s tornadoes.

Senator Ed Jones, D-Bertie, talked about the devastation in his district. “These people lost everything they had, and it wasn’t much to begin with,” he said. “We can’t get caught up in politics right now. We can make sure these folks are taken care of.”  Martin Nesbitt Senate Dems press conference, April 19, 2011

Nesbitt said it’s time for Republicans to separate the benefits, which cost the state nothing, from the state budget provision, which he called a “political ploy.” 

“If someone ties a love note to a nuclear bomb, do you take ‘em both?” Nesbitt asked. “I don’t think so. And that’s basically what they did.”

"More than just a game"

Meanwhile, out in front of the legislature, a sparsely-attended rally organized by the left-leaning NC Justice Center featured unemployed speakers from around the state.

Deborah Koontz from Winston-Salem said she’s just finishing an associate’s degree that should help her land a steady job for the first time in a year and a half. Without the extended benefits, she won't be able to finish. 

“I understand what Governor Perdue had to do,” Koontz said. “She was between a rock and a hard place. But we need those benefits.”

Concord resident Keith Fountain lost his telecom job in 2009. On Monday, he got his last check for the foreseeable future. He said he’s tired of being treated like a political toy.  Keith Fountain Keith Fountain

“This is more than just a game of politics or a game of chicken between the political parties,” Fountain said. “They’re affecting real lives and families. And you know, we deserve better than that from these guys.”

Watch the Fountain interview at right. 


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  • garydenny1965 Apr 26, 2011

    Iam a long time Republican, but iam truley dissappointed in these people. How they can put to the side the people who are on Unemployment, to debates an State employees benifits and health insurance. These people have a job, they have income coming in to pay bills and buy groceries to feed their families. The extended unemployment benifits, are paid by the Federal Gov., It has nothing to do with the state budget or state employees benifits. We sent these people to office to look after our best intrest,what we got is people who are looking after their best intrest and the of special intrest groups. I think they all should be a shamed of them selves...You have let alot of desperate people down....2012?

  • zoesmome Apr 25, 2011

    So glad to see many people on here just like me, have no income today and don't know where to turn. Thank God it's Spring Break from school and I don't need gas this week, but what do I do next Monday? I didn't ask to be laid off from my job, but I am doing the right thing and going back to school and making a better life for myself. Being notified less than 2 weeks that your benefits would end was like being laid off all over again, but worse. Do I quit school and loose the dream that I am so close to achieving? I have already registered for classes so finding an immediate job and changing my schedule isn't an option. I will have to quit school and find work now. If my unemployment paid me enough to "save" money I would have no worries. However, every month I used my savings to help pay my car payment, mortage, insurance and utilites. So putting extra aside wasn't an option. Those who think that we are "abusing the system" need to walk in our shoes one time!

  • socialjustice64 Apr 25, 2011

    Here is the story about Rose Morales and how she is directly impacted by the politics being played with these benefits. This is how these types of political tactics hurt real people:

  • goin4it2 Apr 22, 2011

    Wow, you lost your job and now you want Bev to make your dinner? Man up and accept some personal responsibility. If you've been working for 25 years and didn't save any money that's YOUR fault. Get off your government dependancy and you won't have a beef with republicans or democrats. In the meantime enjoy your self induced misery.

  • 1 awesome Dad Apr 21, 2011

    The Republicans knew all to well that the high and mighty Bev was going to veto it. She waa wrong to veto it just as much as the Republicans were for putting its citizens in a position like this. Evidentally NC needs so house cleaning in the governor's mansion as well as on Jones street as well.

  • 1 awesome Dad Apr 21, 2011

    Hey Bev since you vetoed my benefits how about me and my family coming over for dinner tonight? My tax dollars paid to keep that joint up for the last twenty five yrs that I have been working so I might as well get my money's worth before I lose my house...I like my tea ice cold and my taters hot so you better get in that kitchen and get to cooking because I eat at around 530pm.

  • socialjustice64 Apr 21, 2011

    Wow! Thanks 1awesomeDad, speartops and 6079SMITHW! We need more people like you blogging your comments here!

  • 1 awesome Dad Apr 21, 2011

    The Republicans need to go. It should be a crime for a politician to use its citizens as pawns in an attempt to gain ones political agenda

  • speartops Apr 21, 2011

    Hello Governor Perdue,
    I am writing on behalf of the many people I know (family included) who are at their breaking point due to having NO INCOME. You vetoed the extension of above benefits evidently without regard to how these affected people would pay Duke Power, Progress Energy, Mortgages, Rents, Insurances on homes and vehicles, put fuel in vehicles, buy groceries, etc. I have had one friend mention suicide in order for an insurance policy to take care of 'his' family. How do you conduct your life, meet your basic needs with NO INCOME?
    Have you EVER been in a place in your life where you had absolutely no income and noone to call upon? And...there are no jobs out there and you are well aware of this. Vetoeing that extension seems reprehensible and incomprehensible to me. You are obviously out of touch with how the people in this situation are suffering. Why don't you hand over your car keys or turn down your limo to home and try walking home and to grocery store? Why don't you l

  • 6079 SMITH W Apr 20, 2011

    BREAKING NEWS: Dems, jobless call for a recall of all republican "representatives". ;)