Plans underway to boost unemployment benefits in NC, Cooper says

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday sent a letter to North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger urging them to expand unemployment benefits for North Carolinians.

Cooper said in the letter that his administration has begun steps to accept the additional $300 weekly unemployment support from the federal government. However, he said it is imperative that Congress and the President provide more reliable help for the unemployed.

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Cooper said he believes the state’s $100 share should be applied through North Carolina’s Unemployment Trust Fund and not CARES Act funds.

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”North Carolina has among the worst state unemployment benefits in the country but you have failed to remedy that in the middle of this pandemic,” he wrote. “When you return on Sept. 2, you should extend state unemployment benefits to at least 24 weeks (it’s now the lowest in the country at 12 weeks) and increase the maximum weekly state benefit to at least $500 (it’s now $350).”

On Tuesday, North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders told Cooper to get on board with extending the unemployment benefits that President Donald Trump offered in an executive order.

Moore and Berger told Cooper that the General Assembly plans to approve matching state dollars to receive the partially extended benefits when it reconvenes in September.