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State Republicans proposing $50 weekly jobless benefit increase

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina Republicans at the General Assembly said Friday they’re committed to raising state unemployment benefits for all beneficiaries by $50 a week when they reconvene.

GOP leaders disclosed their agreement on the concept as they prepare to meet starting Wednesday, chiefly to distribute yet-used COVID-19 relief dollars that Congress approved in the spring. By June, lawmakers already had decided how to spend over $2 billion of the federal funds.

North Carolina’s state unemployment benefits currently are capped at $350 per week.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper urged lawmakers this month to raise the maximum weekly benefit to $500 and raise the duration to 24 weeks, up from 12 weeks. But a news release from House and Senate Republicans emphasized how the additional $50 increase would boost every assistance check. It’s not clear how long the payment bump would last. The release said the money would originate from federal coronavirus funds.

Any benefit legislation would still be subject to Cooper’s signature or veto.

Cooper said this week he hoped that extended federal unemployment benefits of $300 per person would be distributed starting next week. The money, which is the result of an executive order by President Donald Trump, initially is supposed to last three weeks.

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