Editorial: Legislature should fix North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system now

If you get a minute, be sure to check out this morning’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com. The subject is North Carolina’s stingiest-in-the-nation unemployment insurance system and the contrast that can be easily drawn between the benefits it metes out to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and how, for instance, state legislators are compensated.

“Last year members of the North Carolina General Assembly received an average $510 a week in per diem. We certainly don’t begrudge legislators’ reimbursements for the expenses of being in Raleigh to do their jobs.

Still, what is rather perplexing is that these same legislators – who as part-time workers receive pay, health insurance, retirement benefits along with travel reimbursements (not to mention permission to use campaign funds used for personal in-session spending) for their jobs find it an outrageous excess to provide anything close to that amount to the state’s unemployed workers.

These legislators cap unemployment benefits at $350 a week — $160 less than their own per diem. Legislators get their per diem every week they need it. Legislators cut off unemployed workers’ benefits after a dozen weeks.”

Now, the editorial notes, legislative leaders are proposing to up the maximum benefit by a whopping $50 per week. That, the editorial notes, is absurdly inadequate. What’s more, it points out, there’s a better proposal out there:

“Rather than obsessing over machinations for pyrrhic partisan advantage, legislators should openly take up, debate and pass the unemployment benefits reforms Cooper offered in the budget he presented last week. It isn’t complicated, isn’t radical, socialist or even original.

Increase the maximum weekly benefit to $500 and extend benefits to 24 weeks. That would lift North Carolina from the bottom of the barrel and put the state on par with most other states….

North Carolina’s hard-working citizens deserve to be treated at something close to as well as their legislators treat themselves. Fix the unemployment system now.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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