Members of the political action group
ActionNC met on the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington to hold a press
conference and issue a challenge to state government at noon on Feb.
See if state lawmakers — specifically
Gov. Pat McRory, Rep. Julia Howard and Sen. Phil Berger — can can
live off of $350 dollars for one week.
This will be the maximum weekly state
unemployment benefit available to North Carolina residents if
legislation passes early next week that will cut unemployment benefits by $185 per
The cuts in state unemployment benefits
are being proposed by the North Carolina General Assembly to pay off
debt to the federal government for emergency unemployment benefits
the state received in the past.
“In my years of public life, I've
never seen a law that is this harsh and draconic to working people,”
said Harry Payne, senior counsel for policy and law with the North
Carolina Justice Center. “No other state in the country has cut
their benefits by that much.”
Payne said that not only would this cut
affect people who had been laid off from their jobs, but also those
returning home from serving in the armed forces.
“That's a fine way to say thank you
to those who have given so much,” Payne said.
Kevin Rogers, policy director for
ActionNC, pointed out that two weeks ago, North Carolina's newly
elected governor gave his cabinet members raises “so they could
afford to live.”
“Governor if your cabinet can't live
on $120,000 a year, how the heck are the rest of us going to live on
$15,000 a year?” Rogers said.
Rogers went on to break down living
expenses in North Carolina and concluded those on unemployment would
have no money for food after paying rent and other necessary living
“Show us that you're a governor of
the people,” Rogers said.
Following the press conference, Rogers
said that state lawmakers have declined to comment on the group's
protests, dismissing their challenge as a “political stunt.”