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Changes Proposed to Unemployment Benefits

Many people could end up paying more with the latest draft proposal to overhaul the state’s unemployment system and re-pay the federal government. 

Tessie Bethel is a laid off custodian.   Her unemployment runs out before Christmas.  She gets 179-dollars a week.

Tessie Bethel:  "I had to pay 85-dollars for an eye exam yesterday.  It’s gone. I only have 40-dollars left for up until next Tuesday again. It  doesn’t last."

The proposed plan includes cutting the maximum weekly benefit from 525-dollars to 350-dollars.  That’s more in line with Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. And the plan also makes it mandatory for governmental entities and non-profits to contribute to the unemployment system.  David Heinen is with the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits. 

David Heinen:  "You know it’s not an enormous tax, but it’s a new tax on non-profits."

Republican Senator Bob Rucho chairs the Revenue Laws Study Committee.  He says businesses will see a slight increase as well.

Bob Rucho:  "An insolvent fund means nobody benefits from it and that’s something we can’t allow to happen."

Rucho says this plan would allow North Carolina to quickly re-pay the federal government the two-point-five billion dollars it borrowed to cover unemployment benefits during the recession.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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