Opinion

Misplaced pride over NC unemployment fund

hlynch@newsobserver.com

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has been patting himself on the back because North Carolina now has a $1 billion surplus in its unemployment insurance reserve. McCrory’s boasting about the state repaying the federal government $2.8 billion in money borrowed to pay unemployment benefits in North Carolina because the state ran out of money thanks to the Great Recession.

Although the state had plenty of time to repay the money while maintaining unemployment benefits, McCrory touted benefits to business as a reason to cut maximum unemployment benefits by about a third and and also to cut the length of time someone could be on such benefits. It was a kick in the teeth to families where breadwinners were out of work through no fault of their own.

Had Republicans just left things alone, families would have had more money to cover expenses, and that’s about all the money covered (roughly a $500 weekly maximum cut to $350, with an average of around $300) while people looked for work. Instead, some Republicans even implied that cutting benefits would encourage people to go back to work, a cruel and insulting implication that the forcibly unemployed could coast on 300 bucks a week.

So now that the state has a surplus, will benefits be restored? Of course not.

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