Today, the House Finance Committee passed a significant overhaul of the state’s unemployment insurance program that dramatically cuts the elligibility, duration, and amount of benefits for jobless workers. As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch makes clear, these reductions in jobless benefits will take effect in the midst of persistently high unemployment and at a time when unemployed workers outnumber available job openings by 3-to-1. This means that three unemployed workers are chasing every one available job, and even if every job opening is filled, there would still be two more looking for work. See the latest Prosperity Watch for details on the state’s struggling labor market.
As expected, Republican members of the North Carolina House Finance Committee quickly approved a massive overhaul of state unemployment insurance law this morning. In just over an hour and half, the Committee explained, debated, considered amendments to and received limited public comment on a 68-page measure that imposes the most draconian cuts to unemployment insurance that experts believe has ever happened in the United States. Gluttons for punishment can watch a video the whole embarrassing show at WRAL.com.
There were so many errors, untruths and offensive moments during the meeting that it’s hard to know where to begin in describing it. Here are just a few: Read More…
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching the folks now running the North Carolina General Assembly in action (like House Finance Committte co-chair Rep. Mitch Setzer - pictured at left) and have a little time at mid-morning today, check out WRAL.com at around 9:15. You’ll get to see what it looks and sounds like when a committee with 50 or so members tries to digest and amend a 68 page bill that will impose the most draconian cuts in unemployment insurance in modern U.S. history — all in about an hour and a half.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll even let members off the public speak for a minute or two each before they jam the thing through on a voice vote.
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: