Saying "enough is enough," Gov. Bev Perdue today issued an executive order extending benefits for 47,000 unemployed North Carolinians.
Perdue and Republican legislative leaders have been at odds for weeks over the extension, which expired in April.
An extension is included in a $19.7 billion GOP-backed state budget passed this week by the Senate and expected to be approved tomorrow by the House.
"Republicans in the legislature stubbornly cling to their political games," Perdue said in a statement. "They continue to use desperate people as leverage to extort my support for an ideologically-driven budget that needlessly cuts millions from our public schools and inflicts millions of dollars more in damage to our universities, pre-school programs, community colleges, job creation efforts and vital health care services.
"I will not stand for it and I will not sit by idly as the legislature continues to play these games and deny the jobless the unemployment benefits they need.... North Carolina cannot wait any longer for the legislature to do what they should have done more than a month ago."
GOP legislative leaders plan a 1:30 news conference to answer Perdue.
But Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, took note of the fact that Perdue's action comes a day before the state budget would have addressed the issue.
"I don't know if she just figured out she could do that," said Shaw. "I'm shocked that it took three months."
jmorrill@charlotte observer.com or 704-358-5059