Lawmakers continue to play political games while denying benefits to 45,000 families
RALEIGH (May 25, 2011) – Extending unemployment benefits has nothing to do with the state budget, but has everything to do with the budgets of 45,000 struggling families.
Today, the NC Justice Center called on lawmakers in the General Assembly to stop playing political games with those families’ lives by tethering together two unrelated issues.
“With unemployment sky-high, we need to do all we can to help our jobless neighbors,” said Harry Payne, general counsel with the NC Justice Center. “It is unconscionable to hold these families hostage to a narrow, unrelated political agenda.”
Republican legislators forced a standoff over the extension of unemployment benefits by attaching the extension to deep budget cuts that GOP lawmakers want. But the benefits are already fully funded with federal dollars, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the state budget.
Today, legislators offered what they call a “compromise.” In order to extend the benefits, Gov. Beverly Perdue would still have to sign off on deep state budget cuts, but for a slightly shorter duration than previously offered by GOP lawmakers.
“Linking vital supports like these benefits to an unrelated ideological issue isn’t a compromise,” said Payne. “It’s the very definition of playing political games with the lives of suffering people.”
Instead of accepting this fake compromise, Payne said, lawmakers should pass a clean bill that extends the jobless benefits.
“All sides say they support the benefits extension, which would help communities and families across our state,” said Payne. “It’s time for an up-or-down vote on these benefits. We need to help these people, and we need to help them now.”