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Thom Tillis has, once again, packed up for the weekend without coming to a consensus on a new coronavirus relief bill. Meanwhile, North Carolinians’ federal unemployment benefits have expired, eliminating nearly 80% of their income and hundreds of thousands remain uninsured.
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2020
RALEIGH, NC – While cases in North Carolina surpass 100,000 and more than a million North Carolinians out of work continue to worry that their federal unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the month, Thom Tillis and Mitch McConnell took a two-week break. Now that they are finally back in session, here are four things they should accomplish in the next coronavirus relief package.
EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR NORTH CAROLINA FAMILIES: Federal unemployment benefits are set to expire on July 31st. For North Carolinians, those federal payments account for nearly 80 percent of their total benefits. Without it, families are left wondering how they will pay the bills with “one of the stingiest state unemployment programs in the country,” But a spokesman for Thom Tillis seems to think that extending benefits would “make the problem worse.” We need leadership that will support North Carolina families as they navigate this time of economic crisis.
RELIEVE STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET SHORTFALLS: As the Washington Post reported last week, cities across North Carolina like Greensboro are frustrated as they face massive budget shortfalls due to “steep drop-offs in tax revenues,” and figure out how to keep essential workers on the payroll, without getting any answers from the federal government about relief. When Mitch McConnell “moved to draw the line on sending further coronavirus aid for hard-hit state and local governments,” Tillis said he’s “more or less aligned” with McConnell saying, “I don’t believe that I can support any measure that’s effectively a bailout for poorly-run state and local governments.” North Carolina cities and towns are being forced to make difficult decisions, and they’ve been waiting far too long on Washington to provide the relief they need to keep their communities safe.
PROVIDE RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS: The COVID-19 relief bill must include resources to help schools safely educate kids this fall. That includes funding for personal protective equipment and whatever schools need to conduct health screenings and implement social distancing, for schools that re-open. It also means investing in the technology necessary to keep students connected as they continue with virtual education.
PASS MEDICAID EXPANSION INCENTIVE: A recent Families U.S.A. report underscored the need to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, revealing that in states that did not expand Medicaid — the percentage of laid-off workers that became uninsured nearly doubled. Cal Cunningham has called for an incentive to be included in the next aid package that would give states that have not expanded Medicaid the 100 percent federal match regardless of when they expand. As he says himself, Thom Tillis “stopped Obama’s Medicaid cold.” Now, his decisions have cost hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians health coverage during a global pandemic.
“Senator Tillis’ record blocking Medicaid expansion and gutting unemployment benefits left North Carolina unprepared to combat this public health crisis,” said Kate Frauenfelder, a spokeswoman for Cal Cunningham’s campaign. “But even as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic wreak havoc on our communities, he continues to be slow off the blocks, delaying action on critical aid, including extended unemployment benefits, relief for municipalities, resources for public schools, and Medicaid expansion. North Carolinians deserve better leadership.”