"I will not outsource these tough decisions," McCrory said in a prepared statement. "This bipartisan solution will protect our small businesses from continued over-taxation, ensure our citizens' unemployment safety net is secure and financially sound for future generations, and help provide an economic climate that allows job creators to start hiring again."
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Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed what he called Tuesday a "bipartisan" bill that moves quickly to pay down the state's unemployment debt by cutting benefits for jobless workers.
Bipartisan? The word is striking given the bitterly partisan moments in the legislative debate. How does he get to claim that Republicans and Democrats supported the bill? Four Democratic state senators and three Democratic House members supported the measure. It equals about one-quarter of Senate Democrats and 7 percent of House Democrats.
On Wednesday the state Senate gave final approval to the bill by a 36-12 vote. Republican senators unanimously voted for the bill along with four Democrats: Ben Clark of Cumberland County, Clark Jenkins of Bertie County, Gene McLaurin of Anson County and Michael Walters of Columbus County.
The House approved the measure last week, and Gov. Pat McCrory has made clear that he intends to sign the bill into law.
The bill, which is up for its final vote in the Senate today, passed 36-13 on Tuesday. Joining the Republicans were Democrats: Ben Clark of Cumberland County, Clark Jenkins of Bertie County, Gene McLaurin of Anson County and Michael Walters of Columbus County.
When the bill passed the House last week, it also received support from Democrats — three to be exact: William Brisson of Bladen County, Ken Goodman of Hoke County and Paul Tine of Beaufort County.
Last year, Brisson sided with Republicans on a few otherwise partisan issues, most notably overrides of the Perdue's vetoes of the Racial Justice Act and the legislature's budget.
So far, the unemployment bill has received unanimous support from Republicans.
UPDATED: IS IT MAYOR PAT OR GOVERNOR PAT? Gov. Pat McCrory told two city of Charlotte staff members this week that state money for the light-rail extension to UNC Charlotte could be at risk if the city builds a controversial streetcar, according to a memo sent Thursday. Without the N.C. Department of Transportation’s $250 million grant, the $1.1 billion Lynx Blue Line extension can’t be built. As Charlotte mayor, McCrory, a Republican, championed light rail, which was one of his signature accomplishments. But he vehemently disagrees with using city property tax dollars to build a streetcar, and used the meeting in Raleigh to relay a message to City Council, according to the memo.
FOXX 'OUTRAGED' OVER WHAT HE CALLS A THREAT: “It’s particularly alarming that he would choose to deliver messages to city staff, particularly messages that contain threats," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat and potential challenger to McCrory in 2016. “He is governor of the state, and there are a host of issues – tax reform, health care. Why the governor would choose to place focus on a transit project, particularly one contained in a transit plan that he voted to implement makes no sense,” Foxx said.
***This is the Dome Morning Memo a tipsheet on N.C. politics. Click "Read More" for other headlines and news.***
The advocacy group Action NC is challenging Gov. Pat McCrory to live for a week on $350, the new maximum unemployment benefit legislators are set to propose.
A bill cutting the maximum weekly benefit by a third, to $350 a week, and reducing the weeks on unemployment from 26 to between 12 and 20, depending on the state's unemployment rate, is expected to move quickly through the legislature.
The GOP proposal is aimed at dealing with the state's $2.5 billion debt to the federal government. The state borrowed the money to pay unemployment benefits.
If McCrory thinks this is a good idea, it's obvious he has no idea what it's like to live on so little money," said Kevin Rogers, Action NC's policy director.
Tens of thousands of unemployed workers receiving federal emergency unemployment will likely lose their benefits starting July 1 as legislators overhaul the program.
Legislative leaders said this week that they will push ahead with a July 1 start to cuts in weekly benefits for unemployed workers. The measure would put the state in violation of the recently passed federal relief package that would have provided benefits to laid-off workers through December 2013. The federal legislation specifically forbid the states from altering the weekly benefit amount, which the General Assembly is poised to do as it returns to session Wednesday.
“It interferes with our expected legislation that we already had ready to go in December. We won’t let it continue,” said Rep. Julia Howard, R-Mocksville, head of the House Finance Committee who is shepherding a bill that would overhaul the unemployment system.
"Noting that the unemployment rate continues to drop, albeit at a painfully slow rate, one think tanker told The Wall Street Journal that recent reductions in the generosity of the unemployment insurance system could be playing a role in boosting employment."
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.
Democratic Walter Dalton campaign is accusing Republican Pat McCrory of being out of touch for his comments on unemployment.
During an appearance in Fayetteville on Wednesday, GOP gubernatorial candidate was quoted as suggesting that it was too easy to collect unemployment benefits.
“Part of it is the process of applying is too easy...If they turn down jobs that offered to them, why should be allowed to stay on unemployment,” McCrory was quoted in saying in the Fayetteville Observer.
Ford Porter, Dalton's spokesman, said Thursday, “yesterday Pat McCrory proved how out of touch he is with North Carolina. McCrory's shameful assertion that out-of-work North Carolinians prefer unemployment to the rigors of the job search sounded more like corporate interests pulling his strings than the reality faced by people across this state.''