More than 33 million Americans are out of work – “devastation unseen since the Great Depression.” And the more than 1 million jobless North Carolinians are running into an unemployment system that was “mean spirited” when then-Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis implemented it and is a “disgrace” now.
Tillis orchestrated steep benefit cuts in 2013, slashing unemployment insurance benefits by a third and reduced the length of benefits by at least six weeks. That’s left North Carolinians with “bottom of the barrel” benefits – fewer North Carolinians will receive less money and for fewer weeks thanks to Thom Tillis.
And as Senator Tillis continues to defend his cuts, he is also heaping “praise” on a President who failed to prepare us for this pandemic and who’s failure has left us “way behind” other countries in curbing the virus.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
News & Observer: NC’s COVID-19 relief package is massive, but it missed the biggest needs
By the Editorial Board
May 4, 2020
- As a deadly virus swept across the state, infecting nearly 12,000, killing more than 400 and leaving 1 million without jobs, North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature waited a month to respond.
- But the COVID-19 relief package signed by Gov. Cooper Monday fails to deliver the two things the people of this state need most right now: better unemployment benefits and health insurance for the poor.
- The two-bill package allocates $1.57 billion in federal stimulus funds and provides an abundance of help in many areas, but it ignores calls to expand Medicaid and fails to increase the state’s paltry unemployment benefits at a time when claims are at a historic high.
- Medicaid expansion was an unrealistic expectation with this legislature. But there is no explanation beyond callousness for the unwillingness to improve unemployment benefits that are now among the stingiest in the nation. The average state unemployment benefit in North Carolina is now $265 a week. The national average is $371.
- The refusal to make the changes sends a message that Republican lawmakers don’t care about workers, no matter how great the number who have lost jobs or how desperate their circumstances.
- Seven years ago, Republican lawmakers made it harder on the unemployed under a notion that benefits sap the desire to work. That was mean-spirited then. Now, with so many jobs gone and a deep recession looming, it’s a disgrace.
- North Carolina has the means to offer more help. Lawmakers should provide it.