@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

GOP tries again on benefits/budget link

Posted May 25, 2011 2:35 p.m. EDT

House GOP leaders unveiled a new attempt today to make a needed fix to the unemployment formula that will allow federal extended benefits checks to start flowing again to nearly 50,000 jobless North Carolinians.

But once again, they tied the fix to a budget measure designed to limit Perdue’s power to negotiate next year’s spending plan.

House Bill 439 sponsor Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the new 90-day continuing resolution would allow the state to operate at spending levels set out in the House budget, giving lawmakers time to negotiate without the “artificial deadline” of the end of the fiscal year.

“We all know how important it is to get those benefits back,” Moore added.

Democrats said linking the two unrelated measures would guarantee a veto – again. “Do you really want the benefits to be paid? Do you?” asked Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange. “Because it’s never going to happen as long as these games keep being played.”

Rep. Johnathan Rhyne, R-Lincoln, called the continuing resolution “vital.”

“I’m concerned that the governor has made up her mind to veto the budget before a budget has even been sent to her,” Rhyne said.

Hackney tried to amend the bill to remove the budget language from the measure, leaving only the unemployment benefits fix – the “clean bill” Perdue has been calling for. But it failed along strict party lines. All 14 Republicans on the committee voted to keep the federal benefits tied to the state spending measure, and all 9 Democrats voted to separate the issues.

“Nobody’s being fooled by your speeches,” Hackney told committee Republicans. “This is gamesmanship which will be laid at your door. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

“I really wish the minority party would stop playing games on this,” Moore retorted. “I don’t get it.”

The measure is expected on the House floor shortly.