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By EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The political standoff keeping 42,000 long-term jobless workers from their extended unemployment benefits may be loosening.

Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County said Friday legislation next week would reinstate benefits for those jobless up to 99 weeks. Tillis tells The Associated Press that Republicans are willing to compromise on their initial position linking the benefits to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue accepting a double-digit spending cut.

Perdue and other Democrats say the two issues are unrelated and Republicans are holding the unemployed hostage.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger says the benefits will be in the Senate’s budget proposal next week.

Tillis says thousands of state jobs are in the balance if the two sides can’t agree now on the form a budget will take in July.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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