NC JUSTICE NEWS: Truth & Hope Tour of Poverty + Defenders of Justice Nominations + Cuts-Only Budget

February 28, 2012

TRUTH & HOPE TOUR: Shedding light on poverty in southeast NC

On Friday, March 2, 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 second 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 March 2, a bus full of activists, reporters, foundation leaders, students and scholars will travel through the southeast 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 Greenville, Goldsboro, Faison, Wilmington, Navassa, Red Springs, and Cumberland County. Watch footage from the first leg of the poverty tour here.

FRIDAY, MARCH 2

  • 9:00 a.m. – PITT COUNTY. Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, 1100 Ward Street, Greenville, 27834
  • 11:45 a.m. – WAYNE COUNTY. Community Crisis Center, 607 S. Slocumb Street, Goldsboro, 27530.
  • 4:00 p.m. – DUPLIN/SAMPSON COUNTY. Juniper Community Center, 226 Juniper Road, Faison, 28341

SATURDAY, MARCH 3

  • 9:00 a.m. – NEW HANOVER COUNTY. Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 3701 Princess Place, Wilmington
  • 10:50 a.m. – BRUNSWICK COUNTY. Navassa, site of 600 acres of intentionally contaminated land
  • 1:30 p.m. – ROBESON COUNTY. Red Springs Community Building, 122 Cross Street, Red Springs
  • 5:00 p.m. - CUMBERLAND COUNTY. TBA.

NC PRE-K AT RISK: Legislators to vote on proposal March 1

Affordable and quality child care can directly influence a child’s future, meaning the difference between graduating high school and falling permanently behind in life. The House Early Childhood Education Improvement Committee is expected to vote this Thursday on a proposal that would make it far more difficult for young children to receive quality care by drastically restricting access to NC Pre-K.

On March 1, legislators will vote on recommendations that will continue the deep cuts make to NC Pre-K in the most recent state budget. The proposal would narrow the financial eligibility of NC Pre-K so that it only includes children from households earning less than the federal poverty line. Under such rules, nearly 10,000 children currently enrolled in NC Pre-K would no longer meet the financial requirements for the program. The proposal would also privatize all NC Pre-K classrooms, therefore decreasing parental choice and leading to a loss of local decision-making authority, a lack of capacity in rural areas, and fewer slots as a result of higher reimbursement rates for private providers. Read the complete report here.

Committee chairs Rep. Justin Burr and Rep. Rayne Brown have put out a call for public comment. Consider the restrictions that this proposal would put on NC Pre-K, and email Reps. Burr (Justin.Burr@ncleg.net) and Brown (Rayne.Brown@ncleg.net) if you oppose the changes to NC Pre-K that would decrease the number of children who would qualify for the program, increase waiting lists, and reduce parental choice. Comments must be submitted by the end of the day on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

CUTS-ONLY APPROACH: Public structures suffer without revenue

North Carolina’s public structures and systems – such as its public schools, courts, and parks – have been badly damaged by the Great Recession, high unemployment, and an outdated revenue system. Without a strategy to improve revenue collections, the state’s public investments in education, health, and safe communities will fall short of what is needed to sustain a high quality of life and a prosperous economy.

According to a report released last week by the Budget & Tax Center, the Great Recession caused the deepest decline in state tax revenues in more than half a century, and although revenues have made a modest recovery in recent months, they are still far below their historical levels. It’s impossible for the state to educate students, train workers, and keep communities healthy without adequate revenue. State policymakers have taken a harmful cuts-only approach to dealing with diminished revenues and growing demand for education, health care, and other core public services.

The report describes several revenue-raising strategies that policymakers could take to help build a bridge to future reforms, including:

  • Reinstating the temporary 1-cent sales tax and doubling the value of the state's Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Requiring multi-state corporations to pay taxes on all profits earned in North Carolina
  • Adding a new top bracket to North Carolina's income tax

Pursing all of these strategies would not make up for the billions in cumulative cuts to the state’s public investments during the Great Recession. However, they would help address the revenue challenges North Carolina will continue to face without action by state policymakers.

"OUT OF CONTROL" TOUR: Next stop in Greenville

The General Assembly’s “midnight attack” on North Carolina’s teachers in January revealed a remarkable willingness to ram through an extreme agenda, no matter what it takes.

Please join N.C. Policy Watch and some key progressive allies at a public forum in Greenville on March 8 that will explore: how North Carolina's extreme right-wing General Assembly is turning back the clock, who's bankrolling its agenda, and what it means for our lives. Featured speakers include MaryBe McMillan of the N.C. AFL-CIO, Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies, Chris Fitzsimon of N.C. Policy Watch, and Jake Geller-Goad from Democracy North Carolina. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share your perspective, too.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville NC at 131 Oakmont Drive. Register for the event here.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE: Nominations & Save the Date

The Defenders of Justice (DOJ) Awards are given by the Justice Center to honor individuals or organizations that are making significant contributions in the following areas: Litigation; Research and Policy Development; Public Policy Advocacy and Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building. Recipients will be honored at our annual Defenders of Justice Event on Thursday, May 10, 2012.

Eligible nominees must be based in North Carolina. If you would like to nominate an individual or organization in one of the following categories, please complete this nomination form and return to Lucy Martinez at lucy@ncjustice.org no later than Wednesday, Feb. 29:

  • Policy Research and Advocacy - Conducting and disseminating research and development alternatives to existing policy.
  • Legislative Advocacy – Working with traditionally underrepresented populations to define and shape public policies.
  • Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building - Developing programs designed to help community based organizations or individuals be leaders within their own communities. These organizations or individuals will have examples of programs that have been successful.

Stay tuned for more details on the Defender of Justice Awards over the next few months.

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