Shortsighted. Shameful. That's how the N.C. Justice Center describes an unemployment bill, signed into law today by Gov. Pat McCrory, that would repay the federal government $2.5 billion its owed for benefits supplied to North Carolina after the 2008 recession.
According to the Associated Press, the bill would reduce weekly jobless payments from $535 to $350 and the maximum number of weeks from 26 to 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the state's unemployment rate.
"Hundreds of thousands of jobless workers thrown out of work through no fault of their own will face deepening poverty as a result of this decision," wrote Justice Center spokesman Jeff Shaw in a statement. "Everyone in North Carolina should be disappointed in both the substance of this bill and the manner in which it was passed." It was signed into law within the first two weeks of the start of the session with "no feedback from workers' groups," Shaw wrote.
No state has ever cut unemployment benefits this sharply, this quickly. No state has ever turned down hundreds of millions in federal benefits the way this bill does. North Carolina's legislature and Governor chose to permanently cut benefits, reduce employers' contributions over time, and reject $700 million in federal extended benefits.