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Head of NC unemployment agency quits

Posted March 16, 2012

— The embattled head of North Carolina's unemployment insurance agency will resign next month after facing scrutiny for several months from legislators over the division's management and the state's $2.6 billion debt to the federal government for benefits.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Lynn Holmes told Division of Employment Security employees Thursday of her decision to step down from the post effective April 15.

"After much consideration, I have decided to pursue new opportunities," Holmes wrote in the email to workers. The five-sentence message ended: "Thank you for the work you do and for your continued commitment to serving the people of North Carolina."

Holmes has been criticized by Republican leaders at the legislature for her management of the division, particularly when it was a stand-alone agency until last November. A General Assembly committee took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena for her to testify in January when she didn't attend a panel meeting in December.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers regarding Holmes, but he was conciliatory on Friday.

“I wish Lynn well, and I look forward to working with the new leadership in the Division of Employment Security to solve problems and restore the division to financial health,” Rucho said in a statement.

Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco thanked Holmes for her "valuable guidance" as the commission was shifted over to a division that was under more direct control by Crisco's department.

"I want to thank her for her dedicated work during this time of change," Crisco said in a statement.

A division spokesman said Holmes wasn't at work Friday.

Holmes was grilled Jan. 4 for more than an hour under oath by members of the Revenue Laws Study Committee. She defended her agency, which previously was known as the Employment Security Commission, over whether it reacted soon enough or strongly enough in raising concerns to lawmakers about why business taxes paid to the unemployment fund weren't keeping up with benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund became insolvent in early 2009.

Holmes, who was originally appointed as commission chairwoman by Gov. Beverly Perdue in early 2010, provided lawmakers a list of eight occasions in which she or her agency's staff made presentations to the legislative or executive branches about trust fund challenges.

Republicans also have criticized Holmes' agency for errors that resulted in overpaying benefits to tens of thousands of displaced workers.

An outside study on the trust fund challenges is pending, but any solution likely will include higher unemployment insurance taxes for some businesses to reduce the debt over several years.

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  • wesixdeep Mar 16, 2012

    Lynn Holmes is the "fall lady"... She INHERITED all these problems in 2010... TWO chairmen served at the former ESC prior to her tenure... Why don't you crucify those who created the problems, knew about the problems, and allowed the problems to fester?? Look back over the history of the organization and you'll CLEARLY see who's responsible for this mess!!! It sure as HELL isn't Lynn Holmes!!!!

  • jaecee452 Mar 16, 2012

    This one will not be getting a pension. She has only been a state emp for 2 years.

    Incorrect statement...Every State employee contributes 6% of their salary into the pension fund. If you leave your money into the fund until retirement age, you will draw a pension. You will not draw the money that the State contributed to the fund.

  • liskm Mar 16, 2012

    State employees contribute 6% of their earnings into the pension fund, which is then invested to fund the payments. Keep your grubby little paws off of what I funded for a lifetime." - liskm

    This might be a good time to mention that North Carolina is one of the few states where the state employees pension fund is adequately funded and not about to go broke.

    Yes a good time to mention that additional accomplishment!

    As for ESC, had to deal with them once. Nice folks, TERRIBLE SYSTEM. Hope I never need their services again!

  • computer trainer Mar 16, 2012

    venitapeyton- if the staff at the YWCA wants to draw unemp, all they have to do is apply and be qualified. Of course, if it is a non-profit that does not pay unemployment taxes, they may not be eligible. That is the risk you take when you work for non-profits.

  • dollibug Mar 16, 2012

    ++++As with a quit, the REASON he/she was fired has to be investigated and adjudicated.

    Actually the reason for anything does NOT make one bit of difference....as someone who filed a workers" comp claim...it was wrongfully denied...because the attorneys for the company and for me messed up the paperwork....and then the denial was approved without anyone "checking into the denial"....so people NO LONGER HAVE TO DO THEIR JOB ON ANYTHING....it is WHO YOU KNOW...NOT WHAT YOU KNOW....

  • storchheim Mar 16, 2012

    landshark, I can't give you exact dates, but this woman had to be subpoena'd to appear before a committee made up of pols to investigate that mismanaged half a billion dollars. They had asked her to show up in Nov 11 (I think), she refused, they had her brought before them in Jan 12. But the incompetence was discussed her at length.

    Also, there was a lot of talk about how badly the staff at the former ESC performed, every time there was a story about whether to extend UE benes. A lot of people apparently received money they shouldn't, no recoupment attempt was made because "it would be too difficult", but here's the kick in the pants: no one lost their job over it either.

    I wish you could see the smile on my face right now. This department needs to lose a LOT more like her.

  • jdavis9007 Mar 16, 2012

    another one bites the dust...........

  • The Fox Mar 16, 2012

    [Whats her salary???]According to the N&O data base $120,363/year.

  • venitapeyton Mar 16, 2012

    It's also sad that no one has raised the possibility of unemployment for the Raleigh YWCA staff who were unceremoniously dumped a couple weeks ago.

  • computer trainer Mar 16, 2012

    Her salary is $120,363

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