Here’s a very real example of how BIG MONEY twists policy priorities and hurts average North Carolinians.
In the 1990s, NC legislators gave businesses huge tax cuts that eliminated the “surplus” in NC’s unemployment insurance trust fund. Then, as the Great Recession got worse, NC legislators decided to borrow money from the federal government to cover the raising unemployment claims. To get repaid, the feds are now charging NC businesses $21 per employee per year until the debt is paid – that’s $2,100 a year for a business with 100 workers. It’s not much, but businesses (led by the NC Chamber of Commerce) have lobbied legislators to pass the cost onto those who can least afford it… unemployed workers.
And legislators are listening. Today, the NC House passed House Bill 4 – an extreme and damaging overhaul of NC’s Unemployment Insurance system. Among other things, it permanently cuts the maximum benefit from $535 to $350 per week and cuts the number of weeks people receive benefits. The timing of these changes also means 80,000 NC workers will lose the extended unemployment benefits that are 100% funded by the federal government; that’s $25 million a week for NC families the House rejected.
HB 4 now goes to the state Senate. No state has ever made such extreme cuts to unemployment insurance. It’s backwards and wrong.
State legislators and Gov. McCrory got elected with millions in contributions from the NC Chamber and its leading corporate members. They have bullied the bill through the legislature. Gov. McCrory says he supports the proposal, but advocates and the 80,000 NC families who will be most harmed hope he will change his mind. You can call him directly at 919-733-5811.