As we reported just last week, 37,000 North Carolinians were on course to lose their unemployment benefits as North Carolina lawmakers failed to revise the calculations used to determine when these payouts from the Extended Benefits program could be distributed.
This week, however, the legislative actions were more purposeful as Republican legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly attached budget cuts to a bill maintaining the state's eligibility for these federal benefits. In the end, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue found these budget cuts too extreme as it meant public employee layoffs, and, as a result, vetoed the very legislation that would have allowed 37,000 laid off workers in the state to receive their final 20 weeks of federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Now, North Carolina’s executive and legislative branch appear to be in a grudge match over balancing the state’s substantial budget deficits—albeit with thousands of long-term unemployed stuck in the middle. "The General Assembly has once again shown they are willing to play games with people's lives in holding hostage some 37,000 unemployed North Carolinians," a Perdue spokeswoman said in a Saturday statement. "But to sign the bill and suffer the extreme cuts proposed by Republicans would risk the future of this state and the lives of 9.5 million citizens." North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes fired back: "It is a shame that Governor Perdue would cut off the jobless benefits of 37,000 families to avoid cutting one cent from her big spending, big government budget proposal."
According to The Huffington Post, the situation in North Carolina is happening elsewhere.
“North Carolina is one of three states where the Extended Benefits program began phasing out on April 16. EB is fully funded by the federal government and does not affect state deficits. In states with high unemployment rates, it provides up to 20 weeks of benefits for layoff victims who exhaust 53 weeks of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation and 26 weeks of state benefits without finding work. States are eligible for the EB program if the local unemployment rate is at least 10 percent higher than it was in either of the two previous years. Even though unemployment remains high -- it's 9.7 percent in North Carolina -- it hasn't risen enough to meet that requirement. In December, Congress said states could change the "look back" period to cover the previous three years instead of just two, but several state legislatures have balked at the offer of additional aid for the jobless.”
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