NC JUSTICE NEWS: Tax Day + Truth & Hope Tour of Poverty + Health Advocates

April 17, 2012

TAX DAY: How taxes benefit our public structures

Today is Tax Day, an important time to reflect on just what taxes mean for North Carolina and its communities, services, and residents.

Taxes allow North Carolinians to invest in education, protect our local communities, and support the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens. Without taxes, it would be nearly impossible to provide for our public structures, as evidenced last year when state leaders opted to cut taxes and in turn, reduced North Carolina’s investments when families, businesses and the economy desperately needed that support. Teachers lost their jobs, classrooms became more crowded, our courts became more costly and ineffective, and fewer dollars were invested in health education and prevention.

In honor of Tax Day, last week Together NC enlisted Russell the Basset Hound to sniff out examples of the Old North State’s best tax-funded public investments. The new social media campaign featured photos and video of Russell as he visited schools, parks, police stations, libraries and playgrounds to send a message about our tax dollars: “North Carolina is worth it." This week, the group has released a video, "A Day Without Government", which shows what life might be like without tax-funded government services. Health codes, water, road maintenance, parks, universities – all of these things would be affected in the absence of tax dollars.

HEALTH CARE: Advocates connect throughout the U.S.

Over the last several months, Adam Searing and Adam Linker of the NC Justice Center's Health Care Access Coalition have traveled throughout the southern U.S. to collaborate with organizations working on improving the health and well-being of children. The HAC team visited Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, and Florida to train fellow advocates on video and editing as a means of engaging others on the critical issue of health care.

Yet as Adam Searing wrote recently for Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the trips also allowed for HAC to pick up skills from their fellow advocates.

“At the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, we learned how quick ‘person-on-the-street’ interviews turned up large numbers of compelling stories of New Mexicans' reliance on Medicaid for family health coverage and what happens when that coverage goes away,” Searing wrote. “Over at the Mississippi Center for Justice, advocates showed us how they were already using colorful animated charts to bring home the enormous effects extreme poverty combined with hurricane-driven devastation have had on the state.”

“The other overarching theme from our travels was the enormous work ethic, unrelenting optimism in the face of substantial challenges and the passion for improving the lives of children and families present in every state,” Searing added. “Pushing for change, especially for lower income families, is never an easy task... But knowing other states are dealing with exactly the same problems we have here in North Carolina with grace and resolve gave us hope in our own work.”

Read more about the HAC team’s travels here. To learn more about their work, download the Video Training Manual for Advocacy Organizations and see a Behind the Scenes video.

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!

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," 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 and final leg of the “Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina,” 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.

Departing from Raleigh on April 30, a bus full of activists, reporters, foundation leaders, students 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. The bus will make stops in Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad region, and other points west which will be announced in the upcoming days.

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

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