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Governor Cooper vetoes bill that would have ended $300 unemployment benefit boost in North Carolina

On Friday, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the "Putting North Carolina Back to Work Act," keeping the federal unemployment benefit boost in place.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The United States Department of Labor reported 850,000 jobs were added to our nation's economy in June - over 200,000 more than the month previous. 

The hospitality industry led the way, adding more than 343,000 jobs. Despite last month's bump, the unemployment rate is at 5.9%, and our country is still seven-million jobs below where we were before the pandemic started.

Our state legislature wants the numbers to keep rising. Republicans say the $300 dollar unemployment benefit boost is keeping people out of the work force, passing a bill last month to end it.

But on Friday, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill, called the "Putting North Carolina Back to Work Act," keeping the benefit boost in place. In a statement, he wrote:

"Unemployment is declining with more people getting vaccinated and into the workforce as North Carolina has strengthened work search requirements for those receiving benefits. The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country. Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent. I support strong efforts to make more quality childcare available and to provide businesses with funds for hiring bonuses and the bill falls short on both of these."

Democratic Representative Price Harrison agreed with Governor Cooper, telling WFMY News 2 many families still need the $300 supplement, until the federal funding ends in early September. 

"There's a host of reasons why this bill is bad policy and I really appreciate the Governor's veto," she said, "This $300 a week has been critical to getting folks back on their feet who have been hit hard by COVID. 

"I think it's a case by case basis and I think that there are some folks who really need that money to survive. I feel like it's specious argument to say that people are staying home because they're getting unemployment benefits - because that's not true. And, the Governor's Executive Order from last month indicated that you [had to be] searching for work and you had to check in with the unemployment office weekly. So there are structures in place so that you're just not receiving this money wholesale without any compliance with the efforts."

Republican Representative Jon Hardister opposes the Governor's veto. He gave WFMY News 2 this statement: 

"It is very disappointing that the Governor chose to veto this legislation. The businesses that are struggling to get people back to work to cannot afford to struggle much longer. Not only does this incentivize people to go back to work, it also contains $250 million in support for child care and exempts unemployment benefits from taxation. This is common sense legislation that would benefit our citizens as well as our business community. All you have to do is drive around town and look at the now hiring signs to see how serious the labor shortage has become. The Governor is being very short-sighted with this veto. We will likely attempt to override this veto in the near future."

You can read more on the bill by clicking here.

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