Welcome to Republican rule of North Carolina!
Having reduced the state’s unemployment compensation reserves by cutting the payroll tax businesses pay to fund the system, the state was forced to borrow heavily from the federal government to pay benefits during the recession and the continuing weak recovery. Now that it is time to pay off those loans, the state Legislature and governor decide that it is unemployed workers who should bear the primary burden for doing so. Thus, the Republican governor signs legislation passed by the Republican legislature which will cut maximum jobless benefits on new claims after July 1 by 35 percent (from $535 to $350) and the maximum number of weeks one can receive benefits by as much as 54 percent (from 26 weeks to 12-20 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate).
While part of the loan payback will be financed by increased business taxes, there is no comparison between the impact of the huge benefit cutbacks on the unemployed and the relatively minor tax increases faced by businesses – 30,000 of whom were paying a zero percent rate to start with.
To be sure, Democrats deserve the blame for cutting taxes for businesses during the good times and putting the state in the position of having to borrow so much to meet its obligations. However, I could never imagine a Democratic legislature and governor sticking it to working people to clean up this mess as the Republicans have done — particularly when it was businesses who enjoyed the benefits of reduced taxes during the good years leading up to the crisis.
DAVID G. GARRATY