NC JUSTICE NEWS: NC JUSTICE NEWS: Toxic TABOR + Push for Paid Leave + Attack on Public Education

TABOR: How the harmful bill could alter NC's economic future

Earlier this month the North Carolina Senate approved radical changes to the state Constitution, putting policymakers’ primary responsibility of creating a budget each year on auto-pilot.

A suite of severe changes to the state constitution laid out in Senate Bill 607 would undermine the foundations of the North Carolina economy and make our current challenges much worse. The bill changes the state constitution in three ways:

  • Limits spending on education, health, and other services through a rigid, arbitrary, and fundamentally flawed formula and requires a 2/3rd majority vote of legislators to override that formula
  • Caps the income tax at 5 percent, which significantly reduces the resources available to run our schools and maintain our priorities
  • Limits access to the state’s rainy day fund - the Emergency Savings Reserve Fund - by requiring a 2/3rd majority vote of legislators

These amendments to the constitution would harm the economy in every way, making it harder and harder to pay for schools, higher education, and other investments. By failing to make the investments needed to position the state to compete and innovate, the flawed spending formula and income tax cap will restrict our ability to grow new industries, capitalize on efficiencies in technology or the delivery of services and build the human capital necessary to grow.  And limiting access to the rainy day fund in times of emergency leaves North Carolina without a fallback when the next recession hits.

It’s clear these proposals are a fiscally irresponsible path that will harm our state’s families and future.

PAID LEAVE: Ask Congressman Butterfield to support federal policies

Too many North Carolinians can’t get time off when they need it most—when they get sick, or when they need to care for a newborn, or stay home with a sick grandparent.

Thanks to our nation’s outdated employment laws, more than a million workers in North Carolina have no opportunity to earn paid sick leave and 9 out of 10 North Carolinians have no access to paid family leave through their employers. This means that when illness inevitably strikes, workers must take unpaid time off—sacrificing wages so they can get well or take care of sick loved ones. And for a low-income family with no paid sick days or paid family leave, going just 3.5 days without wages is equivalent to losing a month’s groceries.

This is wrong and needs to be fixed. Fortunately, Congress is currently debating two pieces of legislation that can correct this glaring oversight in our nation’s employment laws.

  • The Healthy Families Act (HR 932/S 497) would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for up to 7 days paid time off to recover from illness. The bill would also allow workers to use these sick days to seek assistance for sexual assault.  
  • The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439/S. 786) would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery; the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner; and the birth or adoption of a child.

These important bills take big a step forward in ensuring that all workers don’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and recovering from illness or taking care of a newborn or family member.

Congressman Butterfield has long been a champion of working families, especially those in living in impoverished rural North Carolina, but he has yet to announce his support for either the FAMILY Act or the Healthy Families Act. Now is the time for Congressman Butterfield to join his colleagues in cosponsoring these important bills.

Take Action! If you are in his legislative district (NC01), please take a moment to ask Congressman Butterfield to cosponsor the FAMILY Act and the Healthy Families Act.

ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION: Without a budget, schools start year in limbo

A new school year began for many students across North Carolina on Monday. But what their actual school year looks like, from their teachers to their classes, is a big question mark.

Lawmakers extended the budget negotiation to August 31st, which is 61 days after the original budget deadline. Major differences persist between House and Senate proposals, and it remains unclear whether the final budget, regardless of when it is reached, will reflect the priorities of North Carolinians, particularly when it comes to education.

A Continuing Resolution funds current programs and services at existing levels, with a few significant exceptions. Public schools receive additional money to cover the costs of student enrollment growth but there is no additional money for Teacher Assistants or reduced classroom sizes. Some local school districts already implemented layoffs amidst the budget uncertainty. Additionally, while beginning teachers receive another boost in pay, the deal freezes pay for the remaining teachers and all state employees.

As reported by NC Policy Watch's Lindsay Wagner, without a firm budget in place, teaching assistants have seen their hours cut, with no promise of having a job beyond September if the state budget does not allocate enough money for their positions. Other districts have shut down driver’s education programs, uncertain if the money will be available to teach teenager drivers.

For now, students and teachers sit and wait to see what kind of support lawmakers will give to public education. That final decision doesn't just matter for the educational future of our children, but also our economy. Funding may not solve every challenge in public education, but it certainly can make a difference in ensuring that every child is given access to a quality education.

TALKING MEDICAID: Join Health Access Coalition for Halifax, Wilson events

As the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in our state, North Carolina lawmakers have blocked the Medicaid program from being expanded. This means that 500,000 working adults will remain uninsured in 2015.

Join the NC Justice Center's Health Acccess Coalition for two upcoming conversation events to discuss:

  1. the benefits of the Affordable Care Act
  2. how Medicaid expansion would help your community
  3. the online marketplace for purchasing insurance and eligibility for tax credits for individuals and small businesses, including Special Enrollment Period

The first supper event will be held in Halifax on Thursday, September 24, at the Tillery Community Center located at 321 Community Center Road, 27839. Dinner will be held at 5:30, followed by the meeting from 6:00-7:30 p.m. The second event will be held in Wilson on Tuesday, September 29, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Bill Ellis Convention Center, located at 3007 Downing Street.

Call or email today to reserve a place for you and a friend: Nicole Dozier at nicole@ncjustice.org or (919) 856-2146.
 

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