NC JUSTICE NEWS: Budget Rally, Take Action on Budget, Death Penalty

BUDGET RALLY: Join us Monday, June 15 to fight for working families

About 300 people gathered for a rally outside the North Carolina General Assembly on Monday had a clear message for lawmakers: pass a budget that preserves vital public investments by raising revenue and minimizing cuts that could devastate families across the state.
 
“Just as we have come together today, it is time for our elected officials to come together and pass a budget that maintains investments in our children and families to promote future prosperity for all,” said moderator Sue Perry Cole, head of the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations.
 
The “State of Emergency” rally was organized by the Together NC coalition and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) partners. The rally attracted representatives from more than 160 distinct groups representing millions of North Carolinians.
 
Two speakers at the event were community members who had attended town hall meetings held by Together NC in different areas throughout the state. One, Tracy Harrington of Winterville, was so moved by the prospect of deep cuts that she wrote a letter to every legislator. Harrington read the letter in its entirety at the rally. “I am a proud citizen of Pitt County and North Carolina. I want to do my part … I don’t believe my part is to have my job and the services we provide to the children of NC eliminated … I am a Republican, a woman, a mother, a citizen of NC,” she wrote, “asking you to please raise revenue and implement moderate cuts to find the money that we need.”
 
The State of Emergency Rally in Raleigh ran concurrently with another rally, “Raise Our Voice for Children,” being held in Asheville Monday by Together NC partners. Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe gathered at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Children First/CIS have endorsed the principles of Together NC to take a balanced approach to the budget and protect critical investments through responsible revenue reform.
 
TAKE ACTION: Tell legislators it's time to pass a budget that works for everyone
The Governor has proposed a budget. The House and the Senate have passed their budget proposals. Now, during this critical time in our state's history, our elected officials must show courage and leadership by coming together and agreeing on a budget that maintains our past investments in North Carolina's families and communities.  

The Governor and state Legislators must take a balanced approach to the current budget shortfall, and that means raising revenues.

Without new revenues, legislators will be forced to make massive cuts that will cause tremendous pain in the short-term, and jeopardize our long-term prosperity. The Governor, the Senate, and the House have all proposed budgets that include new revenues, and that's progress. Now it's time for them to come together and agree on a budget that's good for all North Carolinians.

What can you do to help? Time is short. Under the state Constitution, lawmakers need to complete work on the budget by June 30. They need to hear from you today. Email your legislators and Governor Perdue and tell them to say "NO" to devastating budget cuts and "YES" to a balanced solution for the state budget that enacts smart cuts and raises new revenue. If we pull together, we can get through this budget crisis. Let's get to work!

 
DEATH PENALTY: Reasons not to resume executions
Last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state medical board can't discipline doctors who play a role in executions. This has supplied more fodder for the debate about capital punishment.
 
Executions have been on hold for more than two years while the courts deliberated. Regardless of the court's view, writes Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch, "fundamental problems with the capital punishment system remain in North Carolina." "Nine people have been wrongly convicted of first-degree murder in the state in recent years, and those are just the ones we know," writes Fitzsimon. "Less than a year ago, two men on death row in North Carolina were released after spending a combined 29 years awaiting their execution for murders they had no role in."
 
CLEAN ELECTIONS: Lobby Day June 17, co-sponsored by NC Justice Center
As advocates for working people, we know that the most vulnerable in this state do not receive enough priority. Too often we find ourselves fighting over crumbs: a small victory here, less of a cut there. Part of the reason for this is the fact that too few legislators hold our issues close to their heart. Too many working people (mothers, teachers, nurses, small business owners) get priced out of running for office and the result is a General Assembly that is not as representative of the general population as it should be. The powerful PACs, industries, and donors who do wield disproportionate power in North Carolina too often stand in the way of the laws and resources needed to ensure all people have their basic needs met in this state.
 
That’s why we’re proud members of NC Voters for Clean Elections, a coalition working to advance citizen-funded, voter-owned elections. This innovative election system opens up the process to more candidates and voters and helps elected officials have more incentives to pass public-interest legislation. The NC Justice Center is co-sponsoring the coalition’s annual advocacy day next week, Wednesday, June 17th. Read more about the day here. They need our help lobbying legislators to pass two bills that advance this agenda. Both bills have a serious chance of passing, but won’t unless legislators hear from enough people.
 
Can you spare an hour or two and attend this lobby day? Having NC Justice Center supporters lobby on reform helps strengthen the campaign finance reform movement just as campaign finance reform strengthens our own work. With this reform legislation on the verge of life or death, your participation could make a big difference. Register today! Coffee and orientation will be at 9 AM in the third floor Legislative Auditorium. Free lunch will be provided. State Treasurer Janet Cowell, Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin, Rep. Rick Glazier and other elected officials will speak at the orientation.
 
BUDGET: "Give us a budget that works," says Rev. William Barber
These are the remarks of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President of the N.C. Conference of over 100 Branches of NAACP across the State, from the "State of Emergency" rally in front of the N.C. Legislative Building. The rally was sponsored by the NAACP, its 85 Partners in the Historic Thousands on Jones Street Peoples Assembly, and the Together North Carolina Coalition.
 
In 2007, February, we held our first Historic Thousands here on Jones Street. We laid out our shovel-ready 14-Points. We laid out a vision--a program that would begin to reverse the steady decline our people were experiencing in education, in employment, in housing, in health care, in civil rights, and our public infrastructuretransportation and utilities.All the responsibilities of good government that make our economy and our people fair and strong.
For three straight years we have watched the legislature do its business as usual. Now we are in a total crisis. But everyday people were in a crisis before. Even before todays crisis we were told we couldnt fund education, even when the Courts had ordered it.We couldnt pay teachers more. We couldnt pass living wage. We couldnt insure health care. We couldnt bring parity to funding for HBCUs. Now we are told the budget for last yearwhich was way too low--is not attainable this year. Last years budget gave us some crumbs. This years budget does not even give us crumbs. The process reminds me of a game of three card molly. It doesnt have to be this way
This legislature needs a jolt. It comes, asks the tax people how much money we are going to take in, says, Oh, that's awful, and then starts looking at programs to cut, rather than thinking big, investing in our people and our infrastructure and figuring out how to get some real money into North Carolinas development.
We keep talking about Balancing the budget. We need to talk about fixing the budget process. A budget process that starts with dollars and cents, rather than direction and visionpeople and priorities-- is a bad process.
A budget process that doesnt start with an unwavering commitment to fully caring for poor children, for educating all our people, for taking care of our elderly, for working with our mentally ill, for taking care of people when they are sick, and for respecting the rights of workers and other human beings that is a bad process.
Our leaders hide behind the constitutional mandate which requires a balanced budget. But the same constitution mandates we govern for the whole of the people not just some of the people.
NC didnt say we dont have the money, when it had the vision and direction to found the Research Triangle Park!
FDR didnt say we dont have the money when he had the vision and the direction to set up the New Deal!
John Kennedy didnt have money in hand when he said, Lets go to the moon!
Vision determined the budget and how much would have to be raised. Vision first. Then provision. Where your heart is your treasure will be.
If we started with the premise --with the vision --that we need --that we must have the best education for all our children; The best re-entry program for all our sisters and brothers who are getting out of prison; The best health care;The best inclusion of African American and minority-owned businesses in our economy; The best workers rights; The best compensation for teachers; The best affordable housing programs.
If this was our vision for the people of North Carolina, and we then examined all the state and federal resources at our disposal, we could make this happen. We could change the debate. Not from whether to raise or cut taxes. But to investing in our vision. Investing in our State. Investing in our children.
Then we could change the discussion from whats Liberal or whats Conservative to whatsprogressive and whats regressive.
This crisis demands our unity and commitment to the whole of the people. A budget is about futures. The future of people lives. The future of our children. The budget is a moral document!
Taxes are not dirty words when they are used to build community. When they are used to invest in our futures as a community. What is dirty is when the wealthy get tax cuts and the poor and our children get their opportunities cuts
We are in a moment where we must decide if we want Social Darwinism or social progress. Even the budget plan which some people fought hard for in the legislature does not get us where we need to be. It may keep us from losing some things, but it doesnt put us on a progressive arch.
Because before the crisis was official there was a crisis unofficial. We did not fully address the unofficial crisis now we have an official crisis and a budget that only moves us back to the numbers where the crisis was unofficial thats not progress thats pitiful.
Yes, we thank legislators who put one-fourth of the $4 billion deficit back in the budget. What if the Governor, the educational leaders, the NAACP, the HKONJ COALITION, Together NC and other state and national leaders from N.C. all got together and decided on what we need in our stimulus package. Take it to the people.
What if we took our stimulus package to our Congressional delegation in Washington, and sat down and talked with the President. What if we figured out how to focus and maximize the impact of state dollars AND thefederal stimulus dollars for most vulnerable.
This is a time when we have to come together, to face this struggle with unity, and to build an economy that works for everyone. As has always been the case in times of crisis, the burden is felt most deeply and painfully by the poor.
If we're serious about caring for the least among us, our budget has to show that. If we're serious about fairness, about justice, then we have to encourage state leaders to write that moral document in a way that leads us away for inequity, and toward opportunity for all.
Taking away pieces of the pie from those least able to endure more is not just morally wrong, it won't work. It won't work for any of the working families struggling to get by here in North Carolina.
Thats why we are here.
Were fighting for a budget process that works a budget that works
We cant unfairly balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Low-income communities bear the greatest, most destructive burden from these budget cut Cuts to education, health care and other crucial programs will disproportionately impact the poor, African American and Latino communities.
We want a budget that works for the whole of the people!
Works to lift up the left out
Works to make our tomorrow better than today
Works to give opportunity to the hopeless
Works to give jobs to the jobless
Give us a budget that works
The wealthy pay their share
Our dreams for a more just society are further realized
Give us a budget the work
Dont take education from our children
Make a mess of programs for the mentally ill
Give us a budget that works
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