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Organizations push back against jobless benefits overhaul

Organizations opposed to a bill that would significantly cut unemployment checks for the jobless urged legislators to reconfigure the legislation in light of the harmful effects it would have on people's lives.

The press conference hosted Monday afternoon by several organizations -- the N.C. Justice Center, AFL-CIO, NC MomsRising and AARP -- was held just hours before the state House is slated to consider a Republican-backed measure to overhaul the state's unemployment system. The bill, which was approved last week by the House Finance Committee, hasn't yet been taken up by the Senate.

Robert Riggins, a benefits administrator at the Freightliner plant in Mount Holly, urged legislators to try living on the lower weekly unemployment checks called for in the bill. The legislature is considering cutting the maximum benefits paid to unemployed workers by roughly one third, from $535 a week to $350.

"That bill is devastating to North Carolina families and North Carolina workers," Riggins said. Last week Freightliner's corporate parent, Daimler Trucks North America, announced that it could lay off up to 1,200 workers at its North Carolina plants in Gastonia, Mount Holly and the Rowan County town of Cleveland.

Perdue signs order extending jobless benefits

Saying "enough is enough," Gov. Bev Perdue today issued an executive order extending benefits for 47,000 unemployed North Carolinians, Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill reports.

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.

GOP legislative leaders plan a 1:30 p.m. news conference to answer Perdue.

Week 2: Unemployment benefits impasse

About 37,000 long-term unemployed residents could see a second week without jobless benefits, as they remain caught in an impasse between the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

A little more than a week ago, the legislature passed a bill that would have extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, and attached to it a provision that would have weakened Perdue's position in budget negotiations. Perdue vetoed it. Benefits for 37,000 ended April 16.

Jordan Shaw, spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, said the House would be wrapped up in budget preparations this week, but if the Senate moves a bill, the House would look at it.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican and the Senate Rules Committee chairman, told the newspaper's editorial board that legislative Republicans and Perdue would find a compromise "within a week or two."

Apodaca could not be reached for comment Monday.

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Perdue is eager to sign a  "clean bill." That would be a bill without other provisions attached.

"She'll sign it the same day she gets it, if she can," Pearson said.

Benefits will be retroactive if a bill passes sometime this year.

No deal reached on jobless benefits

Partisan gridlock: A legislative week passed with no one blinking in the staredown over employment benefits and the state budget.

The disagreement between the parties will leave 37,000 long-term unemployed without benefits for a second week.

Perdue vetoes jobless benefits bill tied to spending

Late Saturday night, Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a bill that would have extended benefits to the long-term unemployed that Republicans had tied to budget negotiations.

The e-mail announcing the governor's veto was sent out after midnight. Perdue's staff had announced Saturday morning that she would veto the bill, but the veto was delayed by the day's severe weather and deadlly tornadoes.

In her veto message to the legislature, Perdue wrote: "House Bill 383 irresponsibly took the financial lifelines for 37,000 North Carolina citizens and families and hitched them to a budget ploy that will wreck the lives of millions more.

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