from the N.C. Justice Center
RALEIGH (February 13, 2013) – In a letter delivered this afternoon, groups representing a wide diversity of interests urged Gov. Pat McCrory to veto House Bill 4, and instead work to craft an alternative solution to North Carolina’s unemployment insurance debt to the federal government.
North Carolina has had to borrow from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits during the Great Recession and slow economic recovery. The federal government has begun collecting on the $2.5 billion debt by slowly increasing employers’ federal unemployment taxes by $21 per employee per year. Yet House Bill 4’s solution to the state’s unemployment insurance debt is “worse than the problem,” the letter reads. Its plan to eliminate debt is based on slashing the amount and duration of unemployment insurance benefits, with benefit cuts outweighing employers’ federal and state tax costs by more than 2 to 1 until the debt has been paid.
“The employer costs will disappear but the benefit cuts will be permanent,” the letter reads.
The bill will also make it harder for North Carolinians and their families to survive by slashing maximum benefits by a third and adjusting the benefit calculation, which would push the average benefit in North Carolina down to among the lowest rates in the country. By capping benefits at 20 weeks even during the current high levels of unemployment, House Bill 4 would leave unemployed North Carolinians with fewer weeks of unemployment insurance protection than 45 other states.
“There are three unemployed workers for every job in North Carolina, more than half of unemployed North Carolina workers are unable to find a job before they exhaust unemployment benefits, and older workers in particular, who have been hit hard during this economic downturn, are unemployed on average for 53 weeks,” the letter reads. “HB 4’s approach seems geared to push even more families already struggling with job loss into extreme poverty.”
House Bill 4 was introduced without any input from groups and organizations that have worked with and represented workers and their interests for years, the letter said, or an opportunity for public input and discussion of the consequences of this law.
“Any attempt to amend the bill in committee and on the floors of the House and Senate has been rejected summarily,” the letter reads. “We ask that as Governor of all of North Carolina that you take the time and use your leadership to try and reach a compromise in this most important matter.”
Read the full letter by clicking on the “read more” link below.
The following groups and individuals signed the letter:
Carolina Justice Policy Center
Children First/Communities in School Buncombe County
Disability Rights NC
Gene Nichol, UNC School of Law
James Parker, Good Work, Duke Divinity School & InSight Fund at the Triangle Community Foundation
Legal Services of Southern Piedmont – Charlotte
National Organization for Women, NC
NC Coalition to End Homelessness
NC Council of Churches
NC Housing Coalition
NC Justice Center
NC State AFL-CIO
NC Student Power Union
Pisgah Legal Services – Asheville, NC
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Rowe, General Counsel and Director of Advocacy, NC Justice Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, 919.649.6766; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, email@example.com, 503.551.3615 (cell).