Archives

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.

 

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

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.

Senator Josh Stein says it is ‘callous to the first degree’ for Republicans to continue to the impasse over an extension of federal jobless benefits, demanding first a compromise from Governor Bev Perdue.

The Democratic Whip acknowledges that thousands of additional North Carolinians are now  being affected by this stalemate, not just the 37,000 individuals initially reported.

“They have been doing everything to find work, and they can’t,” said Stein. “Yet they still have mortgage payments, or rent payments, and car payments.”

Stein says this issue is unrelated to the state budget, and there is no middle ground where the governor can compromise.

The Wake County Senator believes the General Assembly could pass the bill in less than a day, if Republican leaders in the majority would allow it to move forward. For a preview of Sen. Stein’s weekend radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

YouTube Preview Image

The number of unemployed North Carolinians who had their benefits suddenly cut off when their  federally-funded benefits were held up by GOP state legislators has grown.

As many as 45,400 may be affected, according to rough estimates provided by N.C. Employment Security Commission spokesman Larry Parker

Read More