Archives

Uncategorized

It looks like legislators will wait until after the Memorial Day holiday to take further action on legislation that would extend federal jobless benefits to some 45,000 North Carolinians who lost their benefits in mid-April.

The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday along party lines for a measure that would restore benefits for the long-term jobless workers, but the extension remains tied to the passage of the state budget.

Rep. Paul Luebke, who voted against that measure in committee, says it is simply “illogical” to try to force the Governor to support the state budget by withholding federal benefits for thousands of unemployed workers. Read More

Uncategorized

The number of people being affected by a standoff in the state legislature over unemployment benefits has ticked upwards again, now at 43,000 and 46,000 people.

The new estimate was released by the N.C. Employment Security Commission. Today marks the 40th day since April 16, when the benefits stopped for an estimated 37,000 people.

Read More

Uncategorized

The  42,000 to 45,000 North Carolinians cut off from  their extended unemployment benefits since April 16 will have to wait longer, if GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger’s move to fix the stalemate is hinged to the state budget process.

Berger, in a press conference this morning, said the restoring the benefits (which are funded solely through federal sources) would have to wait and become part of the new state budget, which is supposed to take effect on July 1 if it manages to pass it time.

“Whenever it is approved, it will be retroactive,” he said.

But that comes as thousands of the jobless are juggling the sudden lack of money coming in, and are facing evictions, foreclosures or going without food, medicine and electricity. (Go here to see an update on a Charlotte woman who is facing eviction, or go to www.ncpolicywatch.com/jobless for all of our coverage on the standoff.)

The state legislature initially had to approve a formula change in April in order to keep the benefits continuing to flow to workers, a routine measure that would normally take up a day’s time and many states passed without any problems.  But instead of doing that, GOP leaders in the legislator linked the approval to the state budget and would have forced Gov. Bev Perdue to agree to a budget with deep cuts to education and other state agencies. Perdue vetoed the measure, saying that it irresponsibly put the lives of the jobless in the middle of a political fight over the state budget.

Today, Berger again tried to shift blame to Perdue, a Democrat, when he responded to questions from reporters about why GOP legislators had worked out a recent compromise on the State Health Plan, and not done the same with  restoring the unemployment benefits.

“It’s different because we were able to engage in some level of dialogue in terms of a compromise and we just don’t see where that’s materialized on this issue,” Berger said.

Perdue has repeatedly said she’ll sign a clean bill if she’s given one. Her office is expected to respond to Berger’s comments later today.

Democrats in both the House and Senate have tried to move forward clean bills, but haven’t been able to convince enough Republicans to join them.

 

Uncategorized

Christy Zemcik spoke to us a few weeks ago about her struggle to stay afloat after the extended unemployment benefits she depended on her were held up by GOP members of the state legislature on April 16.

When we first talked with her, Zemcik, a 41-year-old former teacher and assistant in a doctor’s office, had gotten served with an eviction notice and was waiting for her power to be shut off.

Now, 37 days into the impasse, nearly all of Zemcik’s furniture is being auctioned off and she’s waiting for a sheriff’s deputy to come to  lock her out of her Charlotte apartment anyday.

“There are times when I feel like I can barely pick myself off the floor,” she said.

Read More

Uncategorized

It’s been a bit tough to get an exact count of how many North Carolinians have been swept up in the standoff between GOP members of the state legislature and N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue about the state budget.

Yesterday, we ran this post about how the maximum number of jobless people going without their extended benefits could be up to 45,400, up from the 37,000 that initially caught up in the stalemate that began April 16.

Then, NC ESC Deputy Chairman David Clegg told the Associated Press later that afternoon the figure was 42,000 after a press conference was held by N.C. House and Senate Democrats.

Both figures are right, said ESC spokesman Larry Parker. The agency doesn’t have a firm head count of how many people are being affected, but estimate it’s somewhere between 42,000 and 45,000.

Each week that goes by, those numbers will go up by about 2,000, he said.

Saturday will mark the fifth week since the stalemate began.