Both the state House and the state Senate gavel in at noon, kicking off a session that will see tax and education reform, voter ID, and major changes to the state’s unemployment benefits system.
House Speaker Thom Tillis told reporters Tuesday that “substantive” work would begin on Thursday as lawmakers look to advance a plan to repay the federal government almost $2.5 billion borrowed to pay jobless benefit claims throughout the Great Recession.
The Unemployment Insurance (UI) reform bill would reduce the average weekly benefit amount , and the duration of benefits.
Speaker Tillis brushed off one reporter’s question suggesting that legislative leaders might be perceived as out of touch with the current economic climate, given the state’s persistently high unemployment rate.
Tillis said passing reforms to the state’s UI program this session would give businesses confidence, ultimately helping those who are jobless.
“I honestly believe if we do this, we’re going to create more jobs for the folks that are receiving benefits and who deserve the help now, but can get them back into a much higher paying and much more productive job than they can imagine,” explained Tillis.
But if lawmakers pass the proposed changes, some 80,000 North Carolinians who are receiving federally-extended emergency unemployment compensation would see those benefits come to end on July 1st.
The House Finance Committee  will take up the Unemployment Insurance (UI) reform bill on Thursday.
To hear Speaker Tillis address proposed changes to the UI system, click below: