RALEIGH, N.C. -- State lawmakers are talking some big cuts to get the state out of debt.
North Carolina owes the federal government $2.4 billion for jobless benefits assistance during the recession.
North Carolina's unemployment debt is the third-highest in the country, behind only California and New York.
A group of House and Senate lawmakers, who sit on the Revenue Laws Study Committee, are proposing a plan that would force companies to pay high unemployment tax rates for three years.
According to the plan, non-profits and government agencies that don't pay unemployment taxes would now have to pay and unemployment benefits for individuals would be cut.
The proposal calls for reducing maximum weekly unemployment benefits from $535.00 to $350.00 and shortening the length of unemployment eligibility from 26 weeks to between 12 and 20 weeks.
"It's going to be a chain affect," said Teresa Tackett just one of nearly 15-thousand people unemployed in Forsyth County.
Tackett, who was laid off from Tyco two years ago, says even minimum wage jobs are hard to come by.
"To just flip a burger or do janitor work that's even hard to find because everybody is holding on to the jobs they have."
"We are supposed to help people that don't have," said Diana Drake who was laid off three years ago and is now retired.
Drake volunteers her time helping others dealing with hardships and despite the proposed cuts she says something is better than nothing.
"We have to accept what they give us and continue to look for jobs, don't be discouraged and pray."
Any changes to unemployment benefits will have to be approved by the General Assembly which is expected to take up the issue when they reconvene next year.