NC JUSTICE NEWS: Final Leg of the Truth & Hope Tour of Poverty + Unemployment Insurance + Arizona's Immigration Law

April 24, 2012

TRUTH & HOPE TOUR OF POVERTY: Tour goes west on April 30

Mark your calendars for the final leg of the "Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty," a state-wide tour of rural counties and inner city neighborhoods where North Carolinians have struggled to find work, decent housing, transportation, and sufficient food for their families, which will travel across western North Carolina from April 30 to May 1.

The North Carolina NAACP, NC Justice Center, UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at North Carolina Central University, and AARP of NC will kick off the third leg from Raleigh on April 30. A bus full of activists, reporters, foundation leaders, and scholars will journey through the western quadrant of the state, engaging in town hall meetings, sessions with local leaders, and tours of neighborhoods directly affected by poverty.

MONDAY, APRIL 30

  • 8:30 a.m. – GUILFORD COUNTY. Interactive Resource Center, 407 E. Washington Street, Greensboro.
  • 9:45 a.m. – ROCKINGHAM COUNTY Rockingham Community College, Advanced Technology Building, 215 Wrenn Memorial Drive (Highway 65), Wentworth.
  • 1:00 p.m. – SURRY COUNTY. Corner of Independence Blvd. and Willow St., Mt. Airy
  • 3:15 p.m. - FORSYTH COUNTY. TBD
  • 7:30 p.m. - ROWAN COUNTY. Moors Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, 500 Partee St., Salisbury

TUESDAY, MAY 1

  • 9:45 a.m. – CATAWBA COUNTY. Grace House, 600 Highland Ave. SE, Hickory.
  • 2:00 p.m. – HENDERSON COUNTY. Union Grove Baptist Church, 901 Robinson Terrace, Hendersonville.
  • 5:00 p.m. – MECKLENBURG COUNTY. Little Rock AMEZ Church, Corner of 7th and McDowell St., Charlotte.
  • 7:30 p.m. - UNION COUNTY. Southbrook Church, 1410 Skyway Drive, Monroe.

Follow the Truth & Hope Tour on Facebook and Twitter for updates in the upcoming week.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Despite lowered rate, workers still struggle

Before he came to work at the NC Justice Center as Senior Counsel for Policy & Law, Harry Payne served in the General Assembly, acted as the state Commissioner of Labor, and headed the state Employment Security Commission as chairman until 2008. During that time, he became well versed with the ins and outs of workplace issues.

While meeting with the Burlington Times-News’ Madison Taylor, Payne made a point that many politicians like to counter when they describe unemployed workers happily living off of their unemployment checks. On the contrary, these people want to work. “They still call me and I’ve been out (of the Employment Security Commission) for three years,” Payne told Madison. “They still call me and say, ‘find me a job.’”

Although unemployment dropped to 9.7 percent in March, down 0.2 from February, the labor force continues to shrink. Worse yet, there has been an emergence of job growth in high-wage and low-wage industries, but virtually none in the middle-wage industries that are usually associated with middle class prosperity. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is often all that stands between these unemployed workers and poverty. Currently, the average worker will spend between 17 and 18 weeks unemployed, and there are four unemployed workers for every job in the state. By law, these workers have to prove they have applied for three jobs a week in order to qualify for benefits.

“Most are applying for three a day,” Payne said. Those aren’t the actions of people taking advantage of the system – they’re the actions of hardworking people trying to support their families and get ahead.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE AWARDS: The 2012 honorees

The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work. The 2012 honorees are:

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

  • State Representative Deborah Ross of Wake County for her dedication to increasing access to affordable housing and public transportation, protecting civil rights, and improving conditions for North Carolina's workers.
  • State Representative Larry Hall of Durham County for his commitment to protecting vulnerable families and members of the military from predatory lenders, safeguarding voting rights, and expanding opportunities for low-income individuals and communities throughout the state.

POLICY RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY

  • Disability Rights North Carolina for their research and advocacy efforts to uphold the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice and with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.

LITIGATION

  • Mary Lee Hall of Legal Aid of NC’s Farmworker Unit for fighting to protect the rights and improve the well-being of the tens of thousands of migrant and seasonal farmworkers who work in North Carolina’s fields.

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

  • Reuben Blackwell of Rocky Mount for his tenacity in opening doors to opportunity, breaking down barriers, and standing up for the rights and well-being of the people of Rocky Mount and the state.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Purchase your ticket today!

PERSONAL INCOME TAX: How it helps North Carolina

What do public schools, public safety agencies, public health programs, and infrastructure development have in common? They’re all supported by personal income tax.

Personal income tax represents more than half of all revenue collected by North Carolina each year - $10 billion in 2011. According to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, North Carolina’s reliance on the personal income tax has yielded state revenues that have kept better pace with the growth of the economy as well as residents’ incomes, contributing to long-term adequacy of the state revenue system and enabling North Carolina to better meet fast-growing demand for public investments and services.

Lawmakers have recently brought up proposals to reform personal income tax as a means of revenue modernization, going so far as to suggest eliminating the personal income tax due to fears that relying on the personal income tax could impede economic growth or encourage wealthier residents to move out of the state. However, research has found no relationship between a state’s reliance on progressive taxes and measures of economic growth. These fears are unfounded – personal income tax ensures that state revenues can keep up with our state’s economic growth as well as the demand for public investments.

ARIZONA'S IMMIGRATION LAW: Travel to DC with We Are NC

On April 25, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070. If the Court upholds the legislation, numerous states that have held off on moving forward with their own versions of racial profiling law for fear of challenges based on federal preemption of state law – like North Carolina – may well move forward with their own versions of this toxic legislation.

Want to get involved? Join We Are NC, North Carolina’s immigrant rights collaborative, and a delegation of other North Carolina advocates as they travel north to the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC to demand that the Court uphold justice for all and strike down Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation.

Two buses will leave Charlotte shortly after midnight on Wednesday, April 25, with stops in the Triad area and Raleigh. Click here to sign up and reserve your spot on the bus.

 

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