Repaying state debt shouldn’t cost those struggling

Repaying state debt shouldn’t cost those struggling

Erica Bandenchini

Since July 1, 2013, out-of-work North Carolinians have been unable to receive federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation after Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law N.C. House Bill 4, which reduced the weekly allowance allotted to those who receive unemployment aid from the state, according to the News and Record.

In addition, this law capped the number of weeks the long-term unemployed are able to benefit. Federal law prevents states from receiving national benefits if state benefits are changed.

Typically, federal emergency relief continues after a worker’s state benefits have run out, but Republican legislators passed the state reductions in order to quicken the repayment of $2.5 million borrowed from the federal government during the recession in 2008.

It is important that the state works to balance the budget and repay the federal government what it owes, but there must be a way to make sure that struggling citizens are able to make ends meet in the meantime.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan held a press conference with N.C. Sen. Josh Stein and Rep. Rosa Gill on Jan. 6. During the conference, she asked legislators to help her pass her provision to reinstate North Carolina’s eligibility for Emergency Unemployment Compensation, according to insurancenews.net.

The state is struggling as a whole, but many citizens are struggling on an individual basis, too.

McCrory has not commented on the issue. When he passed the bill changing unemployment benefits in the state, North Carolina was removed from the national Emergency Relief Program. If North Carolina is again included in the federal program, McCrory’s changes will essentially be reversed.

While I understand the importance of reducing the state deficit, legislators have to figure out a way to repay the federal government while at the same time assisting out-of-work North Carolinians in order for the state to thrive.

It is possible McCrory is concerned that extended benefits will prevent the unemployed from trying to find jobs. Bill Rowe of the N.C. Justice Center told the News and Record that he doubts the aid will be abused, because the emergency relief money is not enough to get by.

There has to some other part of the budget that can be tapped to reduce the deficit. We cannot take from those of us struggling in order to repay our state debt.

Badenchini, a freshman journalism major from Apex, is an opinion writer.