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RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) - The Republicans' solution to repaying more quickly North Carolina's $2.6 billion debt to the federal government for unemployment insurance claims continued on the fast track at the General Assembly, but it's slowing down a little.
The Senate Finance Committee approved Wednesday a House bill that will raise taxes on businesses but also cut the maximum weekly benefits for jobless workers by one-third to $350. Lawmakers also would reduce the maximum number of benefit weeks from 26 to 20.
The House passed the bill earlier this week and its path toward Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk looks secure. But Senate Republicans announced floor debate won't occur until next Tuesday.
Senate Democrats tried unsuccessfully in committee to pass amendments. They say the bill is imbalanced against workers in the bad economy.
A group of community leaders and advocates in Wilmington are calling on McCrory, along with NC State Senator Thom Goolsby and Senator Bill Rabon to commit to live for one week on the maximum unemployment benefit of $350.
"If the Governor and legislature think this is a reasonable proposal, they obviously have no idea what it is like to live on so little money," said Kevin Rogers, Policy Director for Action NC, the sponsor of the challenge. "The Governor needs to understand the pain he will inflict on unemployed workers from all over the state."
The Wilmington group will held a rally Thursday at noon at the Riverwalk, near Market Street, across from the federal courthouse. They said they have Democratic lawmakers willing to take on the challenge, but McCrory needs to lead the way.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WECT contributed to this report.