ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: ActionNC challenges state lawmakers

by Daniel Bowden
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Members of the political action group ActionNC met on the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington to hold a press conference and issue a challenge to state government at noon on Feb. 7.

The challenge?

See if state lawmakers — specifically Gov. Pat McRory, Rep. Julia Howard and Sen. Phil Berger — can can live off of $350 dollars for one week.

This will be the maximum weekly state unemployment benefit available to North Carolina residents if legislation passes early next week that will cut unemployment benefits by $185 per week.

The cuts in state unemployment benefits are being proposed by the North Carolina General Assembly to pay off debt to the federal government for emergency unemployment benefits the state received in the past.

“In my years of public life, I've never seen a law that is this harsh and draconic to working people,” said Harry Payne, senior counsel for policy and law with the North Carolina Justice Center. “No other state in the country has cut their benefits by that much.”

Payne said that not only would this cut affect people who had been laid off from their jobs, but also those returning home from serving in the armed forces.

“That's a fine way to say thank you to those who have given so much,” Payne said.

Kevin Rogers, policy director for ActionNC, pointed out that two weeks ago, North Carolina's newly elected governor gave his cabinet members raises “so they could afford to live.”

“Governor if your cabinet can't live on $120,000 a year, how the heck are the rest of us going to live on $15,000 a year?” Rogers said.

Rogers went on to break down living expenses in North Carolina and concluded those on unemployment would have no money for food after paying rent and other necessary living expenses.

“Show us that you're a governor of the people,” Rogers said.

Following the press conference, Rogers said that state lawmakers have declined to comment on the group's protests, dismissing their challenge as a “political stunt.”

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