Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis this afternoon released a joint statement discussing Sen. Kay Hagan’s role in the dropping of long-term unemployment benefits in NC. Here are some highlights from the release:
Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) issued the following joint statement Monday in response to Sen. Kay Hagan’s attempt to shirk responsibility for her failure to grandfather North Carolina’s unemployment insurance reforms during the 2012 federal fiscal cliff negotiations.
“It’s about time Kay Hagan finally admitted she could have helped North Carolina’s long-term unemployed, but the fact is she’s a year late and $600 million worth of benefits short. If she truly cared about these North Carolinians, she would have done what the General Assembly called on her to do more than a year ago. But she dropped the ball and is now desperately trying to spin her way out of the damage she created.”
Federal fiscal cliff negotiations threw a wrench into the plan by failing to grandfather our unemployment insurance reforms (set to begin July 1, 2013) into an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits. A condition of the fiscal cliff deal was that North Carolina maintain its current benefit levels in order to accept a one year extension of federal benefits.
General Assembly leaders called on Sen. Hagan (whose party in the U.S. Senate led fiscal cliff negotiations) and the rest of the N.C. Congressional delegation to grandfather in the unemployment insurance reforms into the final fiscal cliff package, so North Carolinians could be eligible for extended benefits. Because of their failure to act, an extension of federally funded payments for those unemployed longer than 26 weeks did not happen.
Four other states (Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island) had changes to their UI programs grandfathered in to a previous round of federal unemployment benefit extension negotiations in February 2012. North Carolina was the only state with a UI reform bill ready to go when federal fiscal cliff negotiations were taking place in December 2012, so we were the only state with the potential to be grandfathered.