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Chamber concerned with extension of unemployment benefits in fiscal cliff deal

The fiscal cliff deal in Washington creates "more urgency" to revamp the state's unemployment benefit system, said Lew Ebert, the president of the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

The legislation extended unemployment benefits through 2013 at the same time Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are trying to curtail the checks to jobless workers. Ebert said businesses that pay unemployment taxes can't afford another extenstion.

"It's the most immediate challenge to job creation," Ebert said at the chamber's economic forecast forum Wednesday. He stopped short of calling on Gov.-elect Pat McCrory to reject possible additional federal loans for benefits, as other governors have done in the past.

Chamber of Commerce likes Berger's ed plan

The N.C. Chamber of Commerce likes the education plan Senate leader Phil Berger outlined a few days ago.

The bill would get rid of teacher tenure, give districts money to award teachers merit pay, and keep kids in third grade until they learn to read. The plan tracks with the Chamber's "Education Vision Plan," in that it offers a streamlined way for people to move from other careers into teaching, the chamber said.

"The North Carolina Chamber is committed to working with state leaders to position North Carolina as the leading state in talent development," said Chamber president and CEO Lew Ebert. 

NC Chamber tells members it needs cash for workers' comp fight

The powerful N.C. Chamber, which is in the midst of a heated battle to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system, is asking its business members to direct some of their cash flow to the cause.

"Our lobbyists are working around-the-clock and going toe-to-toe with our opposition — but it will take an organized, united business community to get this legislation passed!" Lew Ebert, the chamber's president, wrote in an e-mail message to the organization's members last week. "We hope you'll consider giving to our workers' comp campaign."

Chamber head disses lawmakers

Lew Ebert, president of the N.C. Chamber, expressed his displeasure with the state legislature during a recent civic group luncheon speech in Sanford where the crowd, unfortunately for Ebert, included a lawmaker.

Ebert told the crowd that the legislature not only wasn’t helping business owners, but was hurting them, according to the Sanford Herald:

They’re all about job creation; they’re just not real enamored with the job creators. In my lifetime, I have never seen more potential harm that could be done to business and to the creation of potential jobs.  

Rep. Jimmy Love, of Sanford and a member of the Democratic majority was in the audience, Mark Johnson reports. He said Ebert was mistaken and said Ebert criticized a statewide sales tax increase at the same time that many people in the audience were pushing a local sales tax increase referendum to pay for renovating a high school.

"He just sort of trashed us as to what we were doing or not doing," Love said this week, "and urged people to run against us."

Quick Hits: Perdue's budget

* Gov. Beverly Perdue proposed eliminating 1,411 positions, of which 444 are vacant now. Of the other 967, 619 would be reassigned.

* Liberal health care advocate Adam Searing says the budget includes "a serious effort to protect critical health services," gives a run down.

* N.C. Chamber head Lew Ebert likes spending on K-12 education and workforce training, small business tax relief and lack of broad-based tax hikes.

* Anti-tax Americans for Prosperity's state chapter, not surprisingly, doesn't like proposed increases on alcohol and tobacco taxes and licensing fees.

Luntz to address N.C. Chamber

Conservative consultant Frank Luntz will speak in Raleigh Tuesday.

An author and pollster, Luntz will be the keynote speaker at the N.C. Chamber's second annual Government Affairs Conference, which will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center.

He'll speak at a 12:30 p.m. lunch for registered attendees.

Other speakers include Senate leader Marc Basnight, Speaker Joe Hackney, Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, House Republican Leader Paul Stam and Chamber head Lew Ebert.

Breakout sessions will focus on environmental rulemaking in North Carolina, pro-growth tax policies, trends in worker compensation, and potential labor and employment law changes.  

Tickets to the conference are sold out.

Manufacturers: Cut machinery tax

North Carolina manufacturers want to pay less tax on the equipment and machinery they buy, according to a poll commissioned by a business group.

Lew Ebert, president of the N.C. Chamber, said lowering or eliminating the tax could become one of business leaders' top requests of state legislators, David Ingram reports.

"If we want to continue to be a competitive state, we'll have to look at that closely," Ebert said at a meeting of manufacturers at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

Otherwise, Ebert said, "we become the state where old equipment comes to die. That's not the kind of business model you want to be a part of."

In a survey of 300 manufacturing executives and owners statewide, respondents cited the tax on machinery more than any other tax they would like to see lowered, Ebert said. Close behind was the tax on real estate, followed by the taxes on corporate income and motor fuels.

"This kind of data helps us make the case for business in the state capital," Ebert said.

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