NC JUSTICE NEWS: Poverty Summit + LaRoque Resigns + End Tax Cuts

July 31, 2012

POVERTY SUMMIT: A Convening and Call to Action

After traveling over 2,000 miles to 27 communities across North Carolina, the Truth and Hope Poverty Tour is convening a summit to report on what we heard in conversations with thousands of North Carolinians across the state.

Join us on Saturday, August 11 to hear and bear witness to the stories of our neighbors’ lives, and to create a plan for change. The event will be held at Opportunities Industrialization Center at 402 East Virginia Street in Rocky Mount from 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The event is hosted by the NC State Conference of the NAACP, the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the NC Justice Center, AARP North Carolina, and the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at N.C. Central University. Call 1-866-626-2227 for more information.

LAROQUE RESIGNS: Kinston Rep. out week after indictment

Nearly a year after N.C. Policy Watch raised questions about his management of two nonprofits, N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque resigned from office.

LaRoque, a Kinston Republican, submitted his resignation on July 25, one week after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of stealing from two federally-funded non-profits he ran. A Raleigh-based federal-grand jury indicted LaRoque on July 17 and accused him of stealing $300,000 from a federal program and then making financial transactions of more than $316,000 in criminally-derived money.

In August 2011, reporter Sarah Ovaska first wrote about LaRoque in her piece “Public money, personal gains”, which found that LaRoque took in salaries of up to $195,000 while using his federally-funded non-profits to offer loans to his close associates. His wife and brother served on his board of directors, and LaRoque also gave himself an interest-free $200,000 loan, which runs afoul of IRS and USDA rules that prohibit LaRoque and the non-profit board of directors from raking in personal benefits.

HARD WORK, LOW WAGES: Workers more productive, paid less

During the current economic recovery, North Carolina's workers have increased their productivity – in return for their efforts, they have gotten paid less for the first time in 30 years. At a time of uneven job growth and increased unemployment, it seems even employed, dedicated workers are feeling the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession.

A new report by the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center finds that the economic recovery from the Great Recession is different from any recovery in the last 30 years, with unprecedentedly sluggish job creation and – perhaps most obviously – falling wages.

One unique feature of the current recovery is the productivity gap, in which rising worker productivity is not being rewarded with new job creation or higher wages. North Carolinians are working harder than ever before, and yet the economy is not working for them. For the first time in 30 years, an economic recovery is seeing improved productivity rewarded by lower wages instead of pay raises.

This productivity gap has contributed to the emergence of a two-tier labor market, with growth in low-wage and high-wage occupations, but little growth in between. Earnings for the bottom fifth of wage earners fell at almost three times the pace of the top 10 percent of wage earners.

END TAX CUTS: It's time to end Bush-era breaks for the wealthy

We’re working with a national campaign, Americans for Tax Fairness, to ensure that North Carolina’s Congressional delegation votes for working families rather than the wealthy when they consider whether to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire completely or only for middle-class Americans.

Last week, the U.S. Senate took the right step for hard-working families and our deficit by approving a bill that would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the richest 2%. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Bush tax cuts. As in the U.S. Senate, there will be a choice:

  • House Speaker Boehner will propose that everyone get a tax cut – including a $150,000 tax break, on average, for people who earn more than $1 million a year. Their bill also will raise taxes on 25 million mostly middle- to lower-income families.
  • Minority Leader Pelosi will propose that everyone get a tax cut on income up to $250,000 – but that the tax cut ends there. The richest 2% would pay more on income above $250,000, and the nation would save nearly $1 trillion.

Take a minute to call your U.S. Representative using our partner Americans for Tax Fairness’ line: (888) 744-9958 and demand that he or she vote to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%. Your member of Congress needs to know that you don’t approve of middle-class taxpayers who play by the rules getting stuck with the tab because wealthy Americans are not paying their fair share. The richest 2% are using their campaign contributions and lobbying dollars to get tax breaks they don’t need and we can’t afford. We need you to stand up and be the voice for the rest of us.


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