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The News & Observer: Families are struggling while billions sit unused in NC. Legislators are to blame

Both federal and state unemployment, protections against evictions and other key stimulus programs are set to expire in the coming weeks. Without the new aid, millions of Americans are at risk as the pandemic worsens. 

After months of failed negotiations, the House and Senate have resumed stimulus amid the impending housing and economic crisis, yet Senate Republicans continue to halt any progress. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly (NCGA) has mirrored Senate Republicans, in doing little to relieve North Carolinians facing financial devastation.

From The News & Observer:

With great power comes great responsibility. Imagine being one of the 170 people with the greatest power to help millions of North Carolinians. Imagine having more than $4 billion to do it.

The members of the N.C. General Assembly, in particular those in the ruling party, have that power. But legislators have chosen to do almost nothing. Billions sit unused as people lose jobs and homes, as families struggle to help their children cope in this awful year.

According to a report released in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, North Carolinians have exhausted their regular state benefits much faster than most Americans — with most in the state having exhausted their 12 weeks of regular state unemployed benefits well before Oct. 1.

Despite more than 1.3 North Carolinians filing more than 2.45 million state and federal jobless claims, the NCGA has yet to increase unemployment benefits, expand health care coverage or use the more than 1.2 billion in “rainy-day fund” to alleviate families struggling.

North Carolina remains plagued by its broken unemployment insurance system — created by the GOP’s 2013 restructure of the system which stripped North Carolina of its capabilities to deliver adequate aid to jobless individuals and to stabilize the state’s economy.

From the White House to the state level, Republicans have failed to lead during this crisis. As a result of their inept leadership, millions are without adequate health care coverage, unemployment benefits and protections against evictions during a pandemic. 

Rather than giving relief to those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic, Republican leaders pushed their own interests and political careers ahead of the nation’s health and wellness. 

Bottom Line: Our Republican leaders have no excuse in failing to deliver the most basic needs to their constituents, especially during a pandemic. Needless to say, their failure to protect the people when it mattered the most will speak volumes for decades to come. 

Alanna Joyner