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Perdue restores federal unemployment benefits; budget battle continues

Posted June 3, 2011

— Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order Friday to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits for thousands of North Carolina residents amid a battle with Republican lawmakers, who tied the extension to the state budget bill.  

In April, the Republican majority in the General Assembly passed a bill to extend the federally funded benefits for up to 20 weeks, but it contained a stipulation that would have weakened Perdue's control over the state budget.

If a state budget is not in place by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the bill ordered, Republicans would move forward with slashing Perdue's proposed $19.9 billion budget by 13 percent.

She vetoed the measure, calling it "extortion," and 47,000 unemployed people in the state lost their jobless benefits sooner than expected. Those people can expect to see a check as soon as next week. 

"They were holding me hostage, but they were really holding 47,000 people hostage. So yeah, finally I am going to act on my own," Perdue said Friday 

Perdue said she has been trying to work with Republican lawmakers to no avail. She said she repeatedly asked them to send her a clean bill and restore unemployment benefits. 

"Not until yesterday had we talked to labor and decided we could move in this direction," she said. 

Perdue said she waited so long to make the move because she originally "wanted to be a team player" with the legislature. 

"Last night, I went home and said, 'I am over this,'" she said. 

Perdue said the benefits are paid entirely with federal funds. 

"Every week we deny these benefits is another week that we keep $11 million of federal funds from flowing into our economy. This money would pay for things like groceries, rent and clothing and help small businesses who sell these items or collect that rent," she said. 

Bev Perdue Web only: Perdue speaks on jobless benefits extension

Perdue's press secretary Chris Mackey said the governor gave "Republican leaders the chance to do the right thing and they didn't. So, she found another solution." 

About 20,000 people should receive benefits next week when the first round of checks are sent. Perdue said the rest of the people should receive benefits in eight to 10 days.

"It is going to help people pay for food, clothes. It is going to help people pay their house payment, their light payment and their medical payments," she said. 

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, was critical of Perdue's order calling it "incompetent."

"If Skip Stam has the audacity to tell me I am incompetent for doing something that is going to make 47,000 people's lives better, let him and shame on him," Perdue said. 

Budget bill still working its way through the House

Perdue is counting on Democrats to side with her in the budget battle. The state Senate voted 31-19 Thursday to pass a $19.7 billion spending plan for next year, and that vote is veto-proof. But in the House, the Republican majority is four votes short of being able to overturn a Perdue veto.

Republican lawmakers said they hope to have a plan on Perdue's desk this weekend.

Perdue said Friday she hasn't made up her mind on whether she will veto the bill.

The House voted 73-44 in favor of the Republican Senate majority penned the $19.7 billion budget bill. After midnight, they'll reconvene for a final budget vote and send it to the Senate. The Senate is expected to hold a session at 10 a.m. Saturday morning to ratify the bill and send it to Perdue.

The two-year budget bill designed to attract enough Democrats in the House to turn back any potential veto by Perdue.

Before the first of two required votes in the chamber, GOP senators beat back several amendments by Democrats, who complained the measure would devastate public schools and health care for the poor.

Republicans argue that they've tempered the reductions in funding for public schools and restored funding for teaching assistant jobs and for more teachers in the early grades. They also expect the state to gain tens of thousands of private-sector jobs from letting temporary taxes expire and offering a small-business tax break.

"I don't want to hear that Republicans don't care. That's not true," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph. "This is a very caring budget."

Senate Democrats contend the bill would eliminate more jobs immediately in the public sector. They cite documents from the public schools, University of North Carolina system and community colleges saying the Senate budget would eliminate 13,000 positions in the new fiscal year starting July 1.

"To say that this budget can do anything to improve schools is totally misguided, totally misleading," state Board of Education Chair Bill Harrison said Friday.

323 Comments

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  • crouch1010 Jun 7, 12:51 p.m.

    For people who are so worried about debt, our entire system is about borrowing to make a gain over that borrowing. How many people get paid cash daily? Very few. If one works for a large bank, a retailer, the state government or federal government or any other entity, the worker waits a week to 30 days for their first pay check. That is the employer borrowing from the employee, their time, their work and their expenses until a certain date. Employers constantly borrow from employees to run their operations. The employer pays the employee back through previous sales. Thus, my point is the economy is run by sales that can pay expenses. The weekly to monthly debt does not matter as long as their are enough sales to cover those expenses. Paying unemployment invigorates the economy and increases sales. It's debt that will be paid back with sales taxes and other taxes. But the less sales we generate in the economy, the less taxes we can retrieve to pay for any government expenses.

  • crouch1010 Jun 7, 10:47 a.m.

    @ RKBA You could probably ask China and most other governments why they invest here. The US has a smaller investment return but it also has a safer return. Most countries reserve the right to take over assets outright, especially non western nations. China, where western companies can make a greater profit, suffer a much greater risk of China taking over the business venture. Corporations know they suffer a greater risk of losing it all by operating there. With a higher return comes greater risk. The US is a safe haven for investments.

  • crouch1010 Jun 7, 10:32 a.m.

    @ RKBA First, the US federal tax rate is not iron clad. There are many legal options to take deductions that reduce the tax rate. The US tax rate has been much higher and for individuals has exceeded over 70%. But few people paid that rate due to legal deductions. Men like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, amassed great wealth under higher taxes. Later comes Sam Walton, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison amassing wealth under higher taxes. People and corporations do not pay those high stated rates, simply put. GE demonstrated that for 2010. Although making a profit, they legally could draw back on previous years and reduce their payment to zero. The regulations are all a part of having modern society. A modern society with a high population is more complex than a small society. A hundred years ago, few rural roads needed stop signs. Now try your luck in rural areas without stop signs and who is going to buy those stop signs? Why invest here? You could probably ask China and most other gov

  • RKBA Jun 6, 3:54 p.m.

    "They are not going to create jobs just because they have a tax savings. At best they will invest it where they can get the highest return and that is overseas at the moment."

    The US worker has the highest productivity in the world.

    However....we also have high taxes and massive regulations....why invest here?

  • RKBA Jun 6, 3:52 p.m.

    "RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina owes nearly $1.5 billion to the federal government to pay unemployment claims and that number continues to rise.

    The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Tuesday that the state has borrowed money for the claims since February, sometimes as much as $20 million a day."

    Where's the money coming from Bev?

  • RKBA Jun 6, 3:47 p.m.

    I hope Bev can figure out where she's going to get the money for this. It's NOT going to come from tax increases or extensions.

    Why should she care, it's not HER money..

  • dlphnwmn8 Jun 6, 10:33 a.m.

    Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger said he's having nonpartisan staff look into whether Perdue has the authority to make the change."We hope that, in a desperate effort to claim credit for what’s going to occur because of the bipartisan budget, she is not putting the benefits of tens of thousands of unemployed North Carolinians at risk by using a questionable legal gimmick," Berger said in a statement. "If she really thinks this is appropriate, she shamefully did nothing for seven weeks."
    Really Berger? She shamefully did nothing? You and the rest of your frat boys shamefully DID do something when you refused time and time again to pass HB 676 and devasted countless individuals and families. So you can forget obfuscating this. And even now you want to throw us under the bus by “looking into this.” 2012 elections are not far off and the hole you are digging for the Reps gets deeper and deeper each day. Don’t think for one minute any of us will forget this.

  • crouch1010 Jun 6, 8:42 a.m.

    A consumer economy is driven by sales. People have needs to buy like clothing and food. No economy runs at full employment. So what is the Republican answer for those that cannot find work for long term? Long term unemployment is new wrinkle in the economy because international corporations can now exploit areas that used to be under the control of the USSR. The Chinese economy is now closer a market economy. US small businesses piggy backed off the prosperity that large US corporations brought to an area. So now that the dynamics have changed because of large corporations, what is the Republican answer for long term unemployment? Cutting taxes does not stimulate the economy unless the tax cuts are aimed at those that have little income. What's 50k to a person that is already worth a million? They are not going to create jobs just because they have a tax savings. At best they will invest it where they can get the highest return and that is overseas at the moment.

  • Alex25 Jun 3, 7:50 p.m.

    Who here believes the govt has its own money....???

  • Alex25 Jun 3, 7:49 p.m.

    And the 'rich' have impacted you negatively in what way again..??

    They haven't. What you 'are' and what you 'have' is from your efforts, skills and hard work.......100%.

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