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WRAL aired this documentary last night on the state’s new unemployment insurance, focusing on the estimated 170,000 longterm unemployed who were rendered ineligible for federal unemployment help when the N.C. General Assembly adopted changes for the state’s unemployment system.

North Carolina, which has the third highest unemployment in the state, was the only state to reject the federal funds as it sought an expedited way to repay $2.5 billion borrowed by the unemployment system in the height of the recession. Businesses saw a modest increase in what they pay into the system, while the length of time and amount of benefits were significantly reduced for those who find themselves suddenly without jobs.

Veteran WRAL anchor Bill Leslie talked with people whose benefits had been cut off, to see how they’ve fared.

You can watch the video here, or below.

Pat McCrory 5A new talking point has emerged in recent days as right-wing pundits and commentators have struggled to describe and respond to the decision of a conservative Republican General Assembly to utterly disregard two vetoes issued by a conservative Republican governor. According to the spin, the dispute is a “family disagreement.”

In this narrative, legislators and the Governor are just pals quibbling over details and Gov. McCrory has ”gotten almost everything he asked for” since taking office in January.

Hmmm. Read More

Ellie KinnairdThe resignation of Senator Eleanor Kinnaird from the North Carolina Senate was totally understandable, but still quite a disappointment for all who care about truth and justice. Ellie’s list of accomplishments and principled stands in the Senate is a long one and she will be missed enormously in that already depleted institution.

This morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right when it says:

“Kinnaird was part of the Senate’s conscience. Losing her voice may make lawmaking easier, but it won’t make it better or the results more humane. The General Assembly should be a place of debate where both sides listen and learn. It has become a Republican rally that drowns the dissent within and ignores the protests without.

The good news is that Kinnaird is resigning but not quitting. She will take her voice to where she can be heard so all can be heard. Her first step is to join a grassroots effort to fight Republican efforts to suppress the vote.

We thank Sen. Kinnaird for her service. And wish her luck as she continues the good fight.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/20/3122573/a-loss-of-conscience.html#storylink=cpy

In a column entitled “Tarheels down,” publisher H. Brandt Ayers of Alabama’s Anniston Star newspaper (a former N. C. newspaper reporter) pulls no punches in slamming North Carolina’s 2013 right-wing public policy revolution:

“LAKE TOXAWAY, N. C. — After decades of touting North Carolina as a model of state governance, I am sad to say that it has caught up with Alabama in a race to the bottom.

‘North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South … In a few short months Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build,’ a New York Times editorial concluded.

A Republican ‘super majority,’ like Alabama’s, has drastically cut the number of people allowed to vote, cut the education budget by one-half billion dollars, installed the failed school-voucher policy, threatened academic freedom and said, in effect, science is illegitimate.

Not since the Taliban blew up the centuries-old monuments to Afghan civilization has there been such an undoing of structures that made a state proud and effective….”

Click here to read the rest of Ayers’ column.

Many of you had read last week about Yvette Jocelyn and her son Antonio, a Cary mother and son we profiled in an article we ran about the long-term unemployed.

Jocelyn had been one of the long-term unemployed who had her benefits cut off when the state moved to a new unemployment system July 1. The changes, which cuts the length of time and amount that unemployed workers receive, also made North Carolina ineligible for federal benefits for 70,000-plus long-term unemployed workers.

Yvette Jocelyn and her son, Antonio

A single mother, Jocelyn and her son Antonio were facing the possibility of becoming homeless.

Here’s the good news – she was offered a full-time job yesterday in her field, doing home visits with the mentally ill in the community.

The job offer came on the same day Yvette was trying to figure out how to pay the August rent for her Cary home, cover utility bills and buy food with only a few hundred dollars to her name.

Her new job will begin mid-month, and she’s hoping to find ways to help tide her over until then.

“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Jocelyn said. She was able to sleep last night for the first time in months without walking up from stress and panic.

She said that she had been looking for a job just as hard before her benefits ran out, but being without the benefits pushed her into an area of despair she hadn’t felt before.

“It felt like there was nothing I could do, you can’t make someone hire you,” Jocelyn said. “If they (the legislature) had not passed the bill and they would have continued the benefits, it would have given me padding and a little hope.”

Congrats to Yvettte and Antonio, and best of luck to them in the future.

We still want to hear from those affected by the July 1 cut-off of unemployment benefits. If you are willing to share your story, please contact reporter Sarah Ovaska at sarah@ncpolicywatch.com or(919) 861-1463.