NC JUSTICE NEWS: Backwards Budget .5K + DREAM Act + Vincent Who?

June 19, 2012

BACKWARDS BUDGET .5K: Race for the backwards budget on 6/19

The North Carolina Senate passed its backwards budget plan last week, cutting more out of public schools, health care, and infrastructure.

The Senate budget proposal makes $25.6 million in additional cuts to public safety agencies compared to the House budget proposal, alters funding for our state’s university system, and diminishes our environmental protections. Lawmakers ignored the impacts made by the budgetary commitments last year on communities across the state, instead choosing to pass a budget that will result in the loss of more teacher positions, reduced health care services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and delayed maintenance and repair of North Carolina’s aging roads and bridges.

Today, the North Carolina General Assembly won’t be the only group of people headed in the wrong direction. Together NC is convening its inaugural Backwards Budget .5K, when participants will race backwards around the Halifax Mall (behind the General Assembly) to shine a spotlight on the legislature’s decidedly backwards approach to the state budget.

The race begins at 12:00 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony and speakers on the impact of budget cuts.

REPRIEVE FOR DREAMERS: Obama announces immigration policy

President Obama made a decisive move last Friday when he announced a policy to halt the deportation of young immigrants across the U.S. If the policy is implemented correctly, stopping these DREAMer deportations will represent a critical step toward a more just and sane immigration policy. Deporting youth eligible under the DREAM Act is not now – and has never been – a feasible answer to the issues facing our broken immigration system.

Under the new policy, undocumented individuals will have opportunities to contribute to the economic prosperity of our country and our state, benefiting all North Carolina communities.

It remains to be seen how the new policy will be implemented. Here's hoping that our leaders recognize that allowing young people to educate themselves and contribute to their communities will always be a better option than costly deportations that break up families.

TOWNSENDS SETTLEMENT: Poultry workers awarded in court

Nearly 900 former workers of Townsends, Inc. have been awarded in a settlement against the bankrupt poultry processing company, who will pay the North Carolina employees $157,000 for unpaid vacation. The workers were represented in a class action lawsuit by the North Carolina Justice Center and Delaware law firm Margolis Edelstein.

In December 2010, Townsends, Inc. filed for bankruptcy and closed its operations just two months later when the company was purchased by the Ukrainian-based company Omtron. 1,200 workers were fired without being paid for vacation pay owed to them, forcing them to reapply for their jobs in order for Omtron to re-hire them. Townsends workers – some of whom had been at the plants for more than 20 years – staged a walkout.

Although the settlement doesn't come close to replacing their jobs, the courageous acts of workers who dared to speak up sent a strong message: wage theft should not be tolerated.

Any workers who worked for the Siler City or Pittsboro Townsends plants and lost their jobs between January 5 and February 25, 2011, were not paid owed vacation pay, and have not received a settlement payment should contact Jessica Rocha at the NC Justice Center, 866.446.8398.

CREDIT BILL: Tax credit program could decrease education funding

All of North Carolina’s children are entitled to a quality education, but that promise is undermined when resources are diverted in ways that decrease students’ access to a quality education. Unfortunately, there’s a new House bill circulating the General Assembly that could do just that.

The Scholarship Funding Corporate Tax Credit (House Bill 1104) would create a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for corporations that donate to organizations that grant scholarships to eligible students to attend private schools rather than public schools, a policy that could decrease available funding for public education.

A new report from the Budget and Tax Center points out that the promise of state savings as a result of shifting students to private schools is unlikely to be realized. Seven other U.S. states that have instituted corporate tax credits for private school scholarships have been costly and, in some cases, failed to achieve what the program set out to do. All but one of these states experienced a drop in estimated private school enrollment. In Arizona, private school enrollment increased by just 1 percent as a result of the scholarships generated by the credit, reducing public school enrollment by just 0.05%, with the sum effect of the credit being a net cost to the state.

VINCENT WHO?: Asian Pacific Americans for Progress screening

Local members of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress will screen the documentary "Vincent Who?” at a special event on Saturday, June 23 at 12:30 p.m.

Thirty years ago, Vincent Chin was bludgeoned to death in Detroit. His hate-crime murder triggered an outcry for justice and forged a diverse nationwide coalition. A similar incident happened in Raleigh in 1989 with the killing of Jim Loo. Such tragedies continue to happen today, such as the hazing and subsequent death of Pvt. Danny Chen in 2011. With increasing populations of Asian Americans nationwide and in North Carolina, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community will discuss how we must all consider how we view and treat each other, as neighbors and as human beings.

The local film-screening will be followed by a national panel discussion via Google Hangout connecting more than 30 cities, looking at past incidents of intimidation and looking forward to what a community can do about it. The documentary and town hall will take place Saturday from 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the NC Justice Center, 224 S. Dawson Street, Raleigh.

IMMIGRANT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: New report

A new report reveals just how integrated immigrants have become in our country's businesses and communities, and how they have contributed as entrepreneurs.

More than one in six small business owners in the U.S. is an immigrant, according to a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute's Immigration Research Initiative. Immigrants are 13 percent of the population and 16 percent of the labor force – a huge change from 20 years ago, when immigrants made up 9 percent of the labor force and 12 percent of small business owners. In North Carolina, 9.2 percent of small-business owners were immigrants in 2010, an increase of 500 percent since 1990.

Small businesses are vital for the American economy, providing jobs for 30 percent of all private-sector employees. It's clear that the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs in this area should be recognized for their contributions to North Carolina's economic recovery.

 

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