@NCCapitol

Political impasse now impacts 45,000 jobless

Posted May 18, 2011

— Thousands of North Carolina residents have been added to the ranks of those no longer receiving unemployment benefits because of a political stalemate, according to state officials.

About 45,000 people have lost extended benefits in the month-long standoff between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue, up from an initial estimate of 37,000 people who lost the chance to receive 20 weeks of federal benefits after normal benefits and all other extensions have been exhausted.

Each week, about 2,100 people are running out of benefits, which would pay them an average of about $297 a week, officials said.

The U.S. Labor Department notified North Carolina officials in early April that the extended benefits program had to stop paying out after April 16 because the state's recent three-month average unemployment rate had improved from 2010 and 2009.

Fourteen other states have passed legislation to revise their formulas and keep the extended benefits flowing, but North Carolina Republicans and Perdue have been at loggerheads for a month.

The GOP has linked changing the formula to a 13 percent spending cut if a state budget isn't approved by the end of June. Perdue called that "extortion" and vetoed the bill.

Democrats fumed Wednesday that the benefits cut-off has been allowed to linger. House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said Republican leadership has rebuffed efforts to pass legislation to extend the benefits with no strings attached.

"This is day 43 of the refusal of the Republican House and Senate to consider a stand-alone unemployment benefits extension," said Hackney, D-Orange. "It's a shameful situation."

Political impasse impacts 45,000 jobless Political impasse now impacts 45,000 jobless

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said he met with Perdue Wednesday to hammer out an agreement on fixing the financially troubled State Health Plan, but the jobless benefits issue was never brought up.

"We have voted to extend the benefits. The governor has vetoed that extension of benefits. Obviously, the issue is still out there," said Berger, R-Rockingham. "The easiest way to deal with it is for four Democrats in the House to override the veto."

The people caught in the middle of the dispute – the growing ranks of people losing benefits – are growing increasingly frustrated by the stalemate.

"Y'all serve us. You're here for us," Greg Smith, an unemployed truck driver from Castalia, told lawmakers. "It's a bunch of adults acting like children. I don't get my way, so I'm not going to give you this."

Smith, 41, said he is three months behind on his mortgage, fears that he and his two children will wind up on the street and is even to the point of considering sharing shoes with his 14-year-old son to save money.

"I'm not a freeloader. I'm caught in a situation where I can't find a job," he said, noting that he is taking online classes to earn an associate's degree while he looks for work.

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  • dollibug May 25, 2011

    There is something really wrong to all of this....BIG bucks were spent in the past couple of months....convicted a man on 1st degree MURDER....without NO SOLID PROOF...and yet...people who DO NOT HAVE JOBS...need money to survive on....what is WRONG with the people of North Carolina....this is so very sad...perhaps the system needs to review what they are doing here and get their ducks in a row....before they QUACK....

  • SARCASTICLES May 23, 2011

    The NCGOP should have never hijacked the stand-alone bill and attached it to STATE budget legislation, period. It's their fault. ;)

  • dlphnwmn8 May 23, 2011

    Tillis says House leaders are willing to compromise, but not to simply comply with Perdue’s request. “The governor, right now, by that behavior on that particular bill, is holding hostage those people who deserve those benefits extensions, who could get those benefits extensions,” he said. Ok Tillis...."That particular bill" is HB 676....stand alone unemployment extension bill. Send it to her and she'll pass it. How hard can this be?????

  • jeffharris18 May 23, 2011

    Bev Perdue should have never vetoed the bill. Period. Its her fault.

  • caryzoo May 20, 2011

    The unemployment benefits extension is a very necessary piece of legislation...it should have been a stand alone bill. Clearly, the Republicans KNEW what they tacked onto it would never pass on its own. Grow up, GOP, what you did by tacking ANYTHING onto the extension bill, people have already figured out is flat out wrong. You're acting like spoiled brats.

  • SARCASTICLES May 20, 2011

    Seems like if the republican'ts were determined to help folks, at least they could have NOT hijacked the stand-alone bill that would been signed by the governor as soon as it passed. The republican'ts are holding at least 45 THOUSAND people hostage in their scurrilous attempt to convince us it's ALL the governor's fault....who is, incidentally, a democrat. These goons are gonna be dragged to court for interfering with Federal UE benefits. Imagine the outrage if they had hijacked the Federal Disaster Relief for the NC tornado victims just to stir up their nutty fringe base. They will ride a rail out of Raleigh in the next election. Apparently, they mistakenly believe their own propaganda and talking points by operating under the grave miscalculation that only "liberal democrats" are out of work....and losing their homes, cars, and the means to feed themselves. Good luck in 2112, NCGOP. ;)

  • jeffharris18 May 20, 2011

    Well they came and picked up one of our cars today. I hope all the political posturing was worth it.

  • hitmanhart May 20, 2011

    Seems like if the Dems were determined to help folks, at least 4 of them would help override Bev. Hope she enjoys her 1st and last term. THE ONLY PEOPLE SHE SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT ARE TEACHERS. WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING ASSAULTED IN PRISONS? DOT WORKERS OUT IN HOT MISERABLE WEATHER ALL DAY? fOR WHAT?...$10.00 AN HOUR? IF SHE CARED ABOUT EDUCATION, SHE SHOULD CARE ABOUT KIDS GOING HUNGRY.

  • josephlawrence43 May 19, 2011

    Bubbles just hired a campaign worker--$120,000 per...came out of the Obama organization..thats really saving money.

  • UNC006 May 19, 2011

    April, a record month for Obamacare exemptions. Opps...

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