NC JUSTICE NEWS: Save the Earned Income Tax Credit + Federal Budget Cuts + Anti-Student Loan Bill

April 12, 2011

WORKING FAMILIES: New campaign to protect the state EITC

A new multimedia campaign is aimed at preserving a critical tax credit for North Carolina's working families.

Some lawmakers are trying to raise taxes on these low- and moderate-income families by cutting the state Earned Income Tax Credit. The multifaceted campaign, led by the NC Justice Center, includes a brand-new website, SaveEITC.org, that has everything from videos and fact sheets to action steps and press clips. The centerpiece of the website is an animated advertisement entitled, “If You Work Hard, You Deserve a Chance to Get Ahead.” The video shows how the EITC provides vital support for North Carolina’s low-wage workers and infuses tens of millions of dollars into local economies.

Lawmakers will receive postcards from hundreds of working families over the next few weeks, listing the multiple ways the EITC helps them pay for basic, everyday needs. In addition, Gov. Bev Perdue received a petition last week that reads: “It’s immoral to raise taxes on low-income working families, who are struggling most in this recession. Protect the Earned Income Tax Credit." One in 10 North Carolina’s households—among the poorest families in the state—will experience an effective tax increase if the Earned Income Tax Credit doesn't remain intact.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE: Honorees announced, tickets for sale

Every year, the Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of our work. We hope you join us for this celebration of North Carolina's progressive community.

The NC Justice Center's
2011 Defenders of Justice Honorees

RECEPTION AND AWARDS DINNER
Thursday, May 19, 6 pm - 9 pm
American Tobacco Campus, Bay 7, Durham, NC

 

State Senator Josh Stein of Wake County for his commitment to expanding protections for homeowners, consumers and low-income families throughout North Carolina

State Representative Angela Bryant of Edgecombe County for her work to improve NC's systems of civil, criminal and juvenile justice, fight poverty, promote economic development and affordable housing, and secure equal rights for women and people of color

Democracy North Carolina for fighting to protect voting rights, increase voter participation and reduce the influence of big money in politics

The law firm of Elliot, Pishko and Morgan of Winston-Salem for two decades of effective and passionate advocacy for workers' rights and civil rights

Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas (COLA) of Asheville for their work improving the lives of workers and families in Latino communities in western North Carolina

Community Success Initiative for empowering and giving hope to people released from incarceration and helping them access the services and opportunities they need to build new lives

TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE.

BUDGET CUTS: Contrasting the options for health & human services

State legislative leaders plan to cut $592 million from the state's health and human services budget next year. That's $372 million more than cuts the governor proposed.

More than two-thirds of all state HHS funding goes to providing medical assistance for low-income children and families, pregnant women, and individuals who are elderly, blind or disabled. In addition, approximately 79% of state HHS appropriations are used to draw down millions in federal funding. That means the money the state spends on these essential services brings in federal dollars, which often go into the pockets of thousands of private-sector service providers all over North Carolna. Therefore, cutting HHS funding will hurt the state's most vulnerable citizens and put countless private-sector jobs at risk.

These cuts are not necessary. North Carolina has options. The analysts of the Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center has been monitoring the appropriations plans of various legislative subcommittees, and they have outlined how the state can protect vital services and investments and still balance the budget.

ASSAULT ON WORKERS: Federal cuts, end of extended benefits

In Washington and in Raleigh, the essentail programs that working families and those hit hardest by the recession rely on are under attack.

In Congress, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has proposed federal budget cuts that defy the federal government’s commitment to supporting low- and moderate-income families, children, students and seniors. Ryan’s proposal would trim the federal budget by more than $4 trillion over the next ten years by cutting critical programs for low-income families, including Medicaid, Food Stamps (SNAP), and housing assistance. The plan also cuts the top income-tax rate and the corporate income-tax rate. So the wealthiest Americans would get a tax break while low-income families would suffer.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, the April 16 expiration date for extended unemployment benefits is hanging over the heads of tens of thousands of workers. North Carolina has a formula in place, based on the state's unemployment rate, that triggers extended benefits for jobless workers. But now that formula says those benefits will end this Saturday, which means more than 35,000 North Carolinians will lose the money that has kept their families and their communities afloat.

The North Carolina General Assembly has the power to change the formula used to determine when benefits can be paid out—at least eight other states have already taken such action—thereby keeping the program in operation. The NC Justice Center and North Carolina AFL-CIO will host a press conference on Thursday at the legislative building on W. Jones Street to demand that lawmakers act to help workers and help the state's economy as it struggles to rebound.

ANTI-STUDENT LOAN BILL: Colleges could opt out of providing loans

Advocates for students and workers are urging Gov. Perdue to veto an anti-student loan bill that would undermine federal loan opportunities for community college students across North Carolina.

House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 74 would allow community college campuses to opt out of the federal loan program. Community colleges have played a pivotal role in providing education and job training for working families at an uncertain time for the state's economy. Yet tuition has increased more than 17 percent since 2005, and the latest legislation would remove a critical tool that makes community college education affordable.

“Putting in place a barrier for students to access a federally funded program that can minimize the costs to the education that can lead to a family-sustaining job goes against the spirit of that vision,” the letter reads. "And that vision, of a more universal access to education, is of ever-greater importance as North Carolina aims to compete globally with a workforce prepared for the jobs of the future." Read the full letter here.

TOGETHER NC: Campaigns highlight critical services, employees

Together NC is launching a two-pronged campaign in support of critical services in North Carolina. Today, this coalition of 120-plus groups begins a new advertising campaign in newspapers throughout the state, calling on NC lawmakers to support the jobs of emergency response workers, teachers and librarians with new revenue. Without measures to raise new revenue, these vital public structures will be in jeopardy, the ads emphasize, but state leaders have an opportunity to fund these critical needs by taking a balanced approach to the state budget.

This week, Together NC also released the first video in its Speak NC series, a web campaign that highlights the impact of budget cuts statewide by documenting the stories of families and communities who benefit from vital public investments. The April 11 video features Michele Weatherly, a school nurse from Richmond County, who describes the essential role she and other nurses play in student health.

With state legislators considering millions of dollars in cuts to public education and public health, North Carolina is in jeopardy of losing hundreds of school nurses. Watch Michele’s video at www.speaknc.org

 

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