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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s main business booster group wants legislators to cut future unemployment benefits and issue taxpayer-backed bonds to close a debt to the federal government.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce wants the General Assembly to cut the maximum unemployment benefit from about $500 to $350 weekly. The chamber also wants to cut the period of state-provided benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

The chamber says the state should issue bonds to pay off the more than $2 billion the state borrowed from Washington to pay benefits to jobless workers. The idea is that the state borrow money cheaply by selling bonds to be repaid with taxes collected from the state’s employers.

The Legislature started its annual session Wednesday.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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