GOP lawmakers try another jobless benefits bill

Posted May 25, 2011

— North Carolina House Republicans pushed ahead Wednesday on a new bill they say will resolve a stalemate over unemployment benefits, but Democrats argue it's more of the same political gamesmanship that led Gov. Beverly Perdue to veto a similar measure last month.

The House Rules Committee voted along party lines to support a measure to restore extended benefits to 42,000 long-term jobless workers, but the extension remains tied to putting spending cuts in place July 1 should a final state budget remain unresolved.

House Speaker Thom Tillis labeled the measure a compromise designed to end the impasse. The benefits have been set aside since Perdue's April 16 veto, and Republicans have been in a standoff with her since then because they don't have the votes to override it.

"The governor has failed in leading a compromise scenario with the House and Senate, so we're stepping up and trying to do it," Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, told reporters earlier Wednesday.

The rancor spilled over to the committee meeting, with Democrats and Republicans trading charges of political posturing at the expense of jobless workers, many of which have been out of work for more than a year.

"You have connected two totally unconnected things, and it has the effect of denying unemployment benefits to people who need it, who are destitute, who are desperate, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said.

His amendment to remove the budget provision failed by a vote of 14-9. The bill now heads to the House.

Majority Leader Paul Stam said the governor is the one playing games by failing to sign a measure that would require her to accept state spending that's only 3 percent less compared to what her budget proposal recommended.

Louis Keith, unemployed Jobless tired of political games over benefits

Republican lawmakers said the two issues are linked and provide certainty to state workers and the public if a budget deal for next year isn't reached on time.

"We have to keep state government going, and we have to avoid games being played that try to force this General Assembly to raise taxes," said Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.

Wednesday's bill would still change a formula to keep extended benefits from a federal program flowing for people out of work for up to 99 weeks. North Carolina is one of about three dozen states that have the program for the long-term unemployed, but an improving unemployment rate meant the benefits would end after 79 weeks without state action.

Unlike the vetoed bill, which called for 13 percent spending cuts after July 1, the new bill would mandate 3 percent cuts if a budget isn't in place. The cuts also would last for only three months instead of a year.

Perdue called the previous GOP effort to link the two issues "extortion," and she reiterated her demand Wednesday for a standalone bill to address the unemployment issue.

"If this bill were to become law in its current form, thousands of teachers, teaching assistants and students would be held hostage by the legislature’s political games," Perdue said in a statement, noting that the spending limits would hurt education funding.

Louis Keith, who has been out of work since October 2009, said he's tired of politicians playing games with his unemployment benefits.

"The (legislative) leadership has plenty of other things they can get in the sandbox with and fight it out with the governor on. This is not one of them," said Keith, who has written more than a half-dozen letters to lawmakers in recent weeks asking for an end to the stalemate.

"They're playing politics over something that has no state money in it. There's not one red cent coming out of state coffers" to pay for the extended benefits, he said.

Stam, R-Wake, said Keith is wrong if you look at the big picture.

"They're federal funds, but guess who pays federal funds – North Carolina taxpayers," he said. "It's out of the pockets of North Carolina taxpayers."


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  • crouch1010 May 26, 2011

    How long for UI? The answer is until we can turn this economy by into a demand economy and not a supply side economy. Supply side economy functionally is like communism only corporations are doing the controlling of the people's demand. Now how long do we fight wars? 10 weeks, 2 years, 6 years? No, until we win or lose.

  • SARCASTICLES May 26, 2011

    OK, I'll answer that one for you......"How long is long enough for UE benefits?". Normally, in an economy like the one we enjoyed under eight years of Bill, 26 weeks is PLENTY. The economy we have now, brought to us by eight years of melting the credit cards and passing the balance PLUS interest on to our current president, 260 weeks might cover it. I hope this helps, and remember you asked for it. Cheers! ;)

  • beachboater May 26, 2011

    I haven't had an answer to my question about how long is long enough for unemployment benefits? Reverend Barber shows his real self in front of the legislature, and actually spent the night in jail. He says we must have this additional 22 weeks.

    What happens in 22 weeks? What will Mr. Barber say then?

  • beachboater May 26, 2011

    ""Like the repairman says, "My boss charges $50 an hour for my time and only pays me $20. I want more!!" He doesn't think about the truck he's riding in, the materials cost, the tools cost, insurance, fuel, and on and on and on. People don't think."

    "People do think.....they also see the boss drive a new Mercedes whilst making their employees work OT unpaid..... There is a balance and right now its way in the employers favor." haggis basher

    Fair Labor Standards Act controls overtime payments, and believe me if someone who is liable for overtime payments doesn't pay them, they will be reported.

    As far as a Mercedes goes........why is that people hate to see other people be successful. I live in a small town and I see that everyday. I guess it's just jealousy.

  • beachboater May 26, 2011

    ""This type of statement is a lot of what's wrong with this country today. Those GREEDY JOB CREATORS."

    Oh they create jobs alright.....in China!" haggis basher

    HB, you have a point. BUT, the U.S. has given many companies reason to go overseas. Taxes and regulations are a trememdous burden on U.S. business. It's just too expensive to operate some business types in this country. The U.S. has become a service economy.

  • whatusay May 26, 2011

    It's not the responsibility of the government to support you if you are out of work..... Move in will relatives, McDonalds is hiring. 300,000 illegals are working in NC... How many illegals do you know who don't have a job.....???

  • 5Rs May 26, 2011

    Even as Gov Bev vetoes the bill, she will blame Republicans, as if they were holding her hand with the pen. And the media will faithfully report it that way.

  • 5Rs May 26, 2011

    "Oh they create jobs alright.....in China!" - haggis basher

    Unfortunately, too many people believe this material straight out of the liberal playbook. Reality is that those who take the risk and then employ people to do the work should reap the rewards of their risk taking. Their business goes up and down, they have to adjust as competition weighs in, they have to develope and satisfy customers, the list goes on.

  • aetius476 May 26, 2011

    Americans used to be a compassionate people, what happened?
    Ask Gov. Purdue, she vetoed the last attempt and probably will vetoe the newest bill as well.

  • edbuck51 May 26, 2011

    the government has spent all of these funds as well because North Carolina reqiures your employer to pay 7% of your income into the fund.
    the state only goes back two years when calculating your benefits and the rest of the money just disappears, if there is alimit on how much one can draw, ther should be a limit on how much money the state can collect