NC JUSTICE NEWS, June 9: Budget Rally on Monday, June 15, More Budget News

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

North Carolina’s budget crisis is creating a state of emergency for all working families, who face devastating cuts to vital programs.
Join us, Together NC and the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) partners for a rally that says "NO" to destructive budget cuts and "YES" to a balanced solution that is fair and progressive and includes new revenues.
When: Monday, June 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Across from the Jones Street entrance to the Legislative Building. We’ll gather on the outdoor space between the NC Museum of History and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences
What: A rally followed by a march to the N.C. General Assembly to call on our state leaders to say “No” to destructive budget cuts and “YES” to a balanced solution
Why: Times are tough right now. The economy is down, unemployment is sky high, and hundreds of thousands of families are struggling. An unprecedented budget crisis threatens our state government’s ability to provide even the most basic of services. While all working families in North Carolina will feel the impact – cuts to education, health care, public safety and other crucial programs will disproportionately impact our most disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and vulnerable citizens: minority and low-income families, the disabled, older adults, and children.
We must convince lawmakers to adopt a wise, balanced approach that makes judicious cuts and raises funds equitably.
 
 
BUDGET: NC groups join growing national movement for reform
Chris Fitzsimon and Rob Schofield both challenge conventional wisdom in their commentaries.
The latest Fitzsimon File addresses the notion that the budget debate is just theatrics designed to scare people into a tax increase rather than a real discussion about services North Carolinian’s need and want.
 
The Weekly Briefing asks lawmakers to resist the simple conservative argument that ‘belt-tightening’ is all we need to solve the budget crisis. To illustrate his point, Schofield discusses how an ill-considered state Medicaid cost savings program unfairly deprived 9,000 deserving people of their insurance coverage.
 
LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN: The consequences of a cut-only approach
Economist and Justice Center expert John Quinterno tackles the budget problem from a different angle, focusing not just on the impact of a cut-only approach to working families, but how failing to take a balanced approach that includes revenue will prolong North Carolina's recession.
Quinterno argues:
  • The sudden, widespread loss of jobs is taking a heavy toll on North Carolina’s families and communities and is responsible for much of the budget crisis facing state lawmakers.
  • A cut-only approach to filling a budget shortfall estimated at $4.6 billion will do nothing to help the state escape the recession; rather, by removing yet another source of economic demand, it likely will lead to even greater levels of job loss and unemployment.
  • Absent a balanced approach to filling the budget shortfall, family hardships will intensify, economic recovery will be delayed, and long-term competitiveness will be impaired.
 
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.
 
CONSUMER ISSUES: Duke Energy's call for rate increase should leave all options on the table
Duke Energy's call for a rate increase has consumer advocates at the Justice Center saying that all options should be on the table -- including a rate decrease.
"We're going to research the request to determine whether customers are being treated fairly in this request, and whether the rate increase is reasonable and legitimate," Ripley, head of the Justice Center's Consumer Action Network, told the Winston-Salem Journal. "Or whether there should be a decrease. We believe all of it should be on the table."
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