Fight looms over NC unemployment benefits

A sign for job assistance and family planning at a job training facility.

May 18, 2011 4:18:59 AM PDT
A showdown over extending unemployment benefits to 37,000 North Carolinians who lost them more than a month ago looms in the General Assembly.

House and Senate Democrats plan to take their case to the public Wednesday during a news conference at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

The Republican controlled legislature passed a bill to keep the money flowing, but it would also prevent a government shutdown if the governor and the Legislature have not reached a budget agreement by the end of June.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has already vetoed a GOP proposal to extend the benefits only if she accepts double-digit cuts before budget negotiations begin in earnest. Perdue called the linkage "extortion."

Republican leaders said they want to ease questions about continued state funding in case a budget deal isn't reached by the time the next fiscal year starts in July.

"This is a way of taking the government shutdown scenario out of the budget negotiations and then presumably giving them greater leverage," said Andrew Taylor, Chair of the Political Science Department at North Carolina State University.

Taylor says a government shutdown could be seen as the Legislature's fault.

"It's often hard for Legislative bodies to argue against governors who have the bully pulpit," he said.

And in a video posted on YouTube, the governor dug in her heels.

"I've never heard of anything like this, I think it's unconscionable," Perdue went on to say. "It just makes me sick for North Carolina."

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