$350/week = about 1/3 of what legislators bring home

Just in case the question occurred to you in recent days as you pondered the plan of conservative legislators to slash the state’s maximum weekly unemployment benefit to $350 (and the average benefit to around $250), these amounts aount to about one-third and one-quarter, respectively, of what the lowest paid state legislator takes home.

Right now, a freshman member of the General Assembly with no special status gets paid around $996 per week when the legislature is in session ($268 in salary and $728 ($104/day) in per diem). Along with the salary, lawmakers also receive an additional year-round allotment of $129 per week in “expenses” and free health insurance.

For Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, the totals are significantly higher: each receives $1,461 per week in salary and per diem plus another $326 in expenses and health insurance.

None of this is to say that the lawmakers are overpaid. There’s a strong argument that we ought to pay legislators significantly more so that more average folks without additional income would seek office. Again, the per diem allotment only runs while the legislature is in session.

Still, there’s something rather striking about men and women who are currently bringing home much larger amounts in public funds and benefits for what is supposedly part-time work (many of them hold down other jobs while serving), begrudging average unemployed people the already rather pitiful sums that they get. Remember, in addition to slashing the maximum weekly benefit to $350, the bill in question would cut the average benefit from the $29o range to the $250-$260 range.  Perhaps even more importantly, the bill also dramatically cuts the length of time an unemployed person can remain eligible and makes it harder to obtain benefits in the first place.

The bottom line: I guess we know why none of the legislators behind the bill (or Governor McCrory) is willing to take the $350 challenge.

 

One Comment

  1. Sue Vert

    February 12, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Is there a petition online or anywhere to stop this insanity? Maybe I just don’t know where to look. These cuts amount to an approximately 25% reduction in current unemployment insurance payments to individuals to repay a debt to the federal government that was most likely caused by the incompetents in the state government to begin with. It would seem a fairer solution that these people responsible give up a percentage of their pay checks to repay this debt. Of course not everyone is as greedy as Republicans today seem to be, a 10% reduction until debt is paid would seem reasonable to most of us I’m sure. I have been a lifelong Republican until the last elections and have just become sickened by what I’m seeing these days.