RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Senate Democrat is asking Republican colleagues to consider the needs of the jobless when the General Assembly debates a GOP-authored solution to pay off $2.5 billion that North Carolina owes the federal government.

Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham said he's worried about the effects of the proposal recommended Tuesday by a legislative committee that would scale back benefits for future unemployed workers. The proposal also would reduce the maximum number of weeks someone can receive state benefits.

Republicans say the proposal is needed to pay off more quickly the debt owed to the federal government and to replenish the state's unemployment trust fund. The plan will require some higher unemployment tax rates for businesses.

The proposal must still be formally introduced and pass the House and Senate.

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