Could you live on just $350 a week?
A new bill aims to make that a reality for thousands of people across our state who receive unemployment benefits.
Critics of the legislation say it's unfair to people who can't get jobs; while supporters say it must be done to repay the $2.6 billion we owe to the federal government.
Tuesday night, the North Carolina House of Representatives gave the bill final approval, and now it's on to the Senate.
If Governor Pat McCrory signs it into law, maximum weekly unemployment benefits will get chopped by a third - dropping from $535 a week to $350. And the maximum length of benefits will be scaled back.
Plus, businesses would see federal unemployment insurance taxes go up until we can repay billions to the feds.
Rita Coward, a woman who was laid off in September when her employer downsized, says such changes would make it even tougher for people like her to make ends meet.
"I wish that a lot of the people who are so for this $350 a week unemployment benefit would try to live themselves on $350 a week," she says. "And see if they could do it. If they can do it, then let them show the rest of us how to go about doing it."
Supporters say if passed, the bill would rid us of our debt and make our state more competitive at recruiting new jobs and industries. They also point out our state's current maximum benefits are already higher than most states in the Southeast.
--- Original Story ---
A plan to cut unemployment pay for those in our state has received preliminary approval by the full House.
Monday night the GOP controlled house voted to pass the bill that would cut maximum weekly unemployment benefits from $535 a week to $350 a week and scales back the maximum length of state benefits from 26 weeks to 20.
The bill also raises unemployment insurance taxes on employers.
A final house vote is expected Tuesday. The Senate and Gov. Pat McCrory both back the bill.
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