Governor Pat McCrory said one of the first bills he plans to sign into law will overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system. McCrory is in favor of a Republican legislative plan that cuts benefits and raises taxes on some businesses.
When the economy tanked, North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system got way out of balance. Businesses fund it, and they weren’t putting enough in to cover the massive demand for benefits as unemployment soared.
So the state borrowed money from the federal government. That tab still lingers around $2.5 billion. To put that in perspective, only California and New York owe more.
Now Governor McCrory said it’s time to close the tab.
"I hope that will be one of the first pieces of legislation I sign, is to pay off the debt that we owe the federal government," McCrory said.
McCrory said the Republican plan approved in a joint committee this week has the right idea. It slashes the maximum weekly benefit from $535 to $350. Also, it cuts the number of weeks the state offers benefits from 26 to between 12 and 20 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate.
There’s also pain on the tax side. The federal government automatically increases taxes on businesses each year until the debt is paid. On top of that, the plan slightly increases state taxes on some businesses.
"It’s the right direction because we have no choice," McCrory said. "We owe the federal government, and as governor, I plan to pay off the credit card."
McCrory said he’ll be involved in modifying the plan when legislators consider it again later this month.
McCrory On MeckLINK
On another matter, McCrory said the threat of a lawsuit means he can’t comment on the state’s decision regarding MeckLINK. That’s the agency Mecklenburg County chose to oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funds for mental health and other services.
But the state stripped it of that responsibility before McCrory took office. Now the county plans to sue the state.