NC JUSTICE NEWS: Video Series on School Vouchers + Wage Theft Crucial Conversation + Capital Tax Break Proposal

January 27, 2015

VOUCHERS: New video highlights why we need strong public schools in NC

Next month, the school voucher appeal hearing will move forward with the NC State Supreme Court. It's been a long journey since late 2013, when 25 plaintiffs from across the state filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the school voucher law passed by the General Assembly during the 2013 legislative session.

Rev. T. Anthony Spearman of Greensboro, North Carolina is one among the large and diverse group of plaintiffs who joined in the lawsuit, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and the North Carolina Justice Center. Rev. Spearman is the pastor at the Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Hickory, where he is also a member of the Board of Education for the local public schools.

In this video, the first in a series presented by the NC Justice Center, Rev. Spearman talks about the importance of public schools, and how voucher programs can be harmful to students and their communities. "I am a product of public education and I thank God for the education I have received," Rev. Spearman says. "Education, as far as I'm concerned, is key to progress. Without education there is no progress." Click here or below to watch the full video.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: Investigating wage theft, fraud in the workplace

There’s a multimillion dollar crime spree underway in North Carolina. Unfortunately, save for the efforts of a few intrepid journalists and lawyers, it’s a problem that’s mostly being ignored and swept under the rug. The issue is wage theft and the “misclassification” of workers by employers.

Join NC Policy Watch as they explore this huge and poorly understood problem and how state lawmakers and regulators might properly address it with Mandy Locke, lead author of the Raleigh News & Observer “Contract to Cheat” investigative series.

Since joining the N&O in 2004, Locke has written extensively about the legal system, child welfare and hospital disputes. Locke will be joined by Raleigh businessman Doug Burton, President and Owner of Whitman Masonry. Burton is one of the numerous North Carolina employers who treats his workers fairly, plays by the rules and is regularly disadvantaged as a result of the state’s lax law enforcement in this area.

The event will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 28, at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St.

CAPITAL GAINS: Proposal further shifts burden to everyday North Carolinians

A new proposal to eliminate North Carolina’s taxation of  profits from selling artwork, vacation homes and other high-end items that relatively few own would benefit the wealthiest at everyone else’s expense. Unfortunately, this push for capital gains tax breaks seems to be part of a larger effort to radically alter North Carolina’s tax system, to the detriment of the state and its residents.

The proposal comes at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet and the state is cutting support for vital public investments. If anything, this should be the time to build more support for schools and universities. Eliminating capital gains from state income tax would reduce annual state revenue by $520 million on top of the $1.1 billion revenue loss caused by the 2013 tax plan, according to the new Budget & Tax Center report, meaning even less revenue for public investments that promote economic growth.

Cutting capital gains taxes won't help the state's economy. Cutting the gains rate hasn't promoted growth, and there doesn't seem to be any cause-and-effect relationship between changing the top capital gains tax rate and savings, investment, or productivity growth.

The release of the BTC report is timely, as we look towards Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day on Friday, January 30. The push for capital gains tax breaks further highlights the upside down nature of the Tar Heel state's tax system. North Carolina is the only state to have eliminated the state EITC, a modest but vital support to working families that also helps fight poverty. Before the credit was allowed to expire, more than 900,000 North Carolinians were able to claim the EITC. Stay tuned at @ncbudgetandtax throughout EITC Awareness Day later this week, and catch up on the EITC video series, highlighting North Carolinians whose lives have been aided by the state EITC.

You can also stay up to date on the other fiscal and economic issues likely to come up in 2015 for a series of Budget & Tax Center webinars on Friday, February 6 at 10:00 a.m. and Monday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m.

SAVE THE DATE: Mass Moral March & HKonJ People's Assembly on 2/14/15

Join the NAACP, NC Justice Center and more than 100 coalition partners for the 9th Annual Mass Moral March & HKonJ People's Assembly in Raleigh on Saturday, February 14.
This year's Love & Justice Movement Agenda covers a wide array of issues that affect the lives of everyday North Carolinians:

  • Voting Rights: The expansion and protection of voting rights for all
  • Labor Rights: Raising the minimum wage, economic justice, and union rights
  • Education Equality: Funding for quality public schools and support for HBCUs
  • Health Care for All: Medicaid expansion, women's health, and environmental justice
  • Equal Protection Under the Law: Justice without regard for race, creed, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or immigration status
  • Criminal Justice & Police Reform

The pre-rally begins at 9:00 a.m. at 2 South Street in downtown Raleigh (across from the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium). The march begins at 10:00 a.m., with the assembly commencing near the State Capitol on Fayetteville Street. Stay tuned for information on the Week of Action at the NC General Assembly during the week of February 9-13 and the Pre-Moral March Service on February 13.

Feel the love and join us this Valentine's Day for this historic event.

EQUITABLE ECONOMY: Upcoming webinar, importance of equity in transit plan

The country is becoming more diverse, yet ingrained racial inequities remain wide and persistent. This reality makes it imperative that foundations prioritize grantmaking on strategies that promote equity, or fair and just inclusion, including areas such as transportation.

The National Equity Atlas is a first-of-its-kind data and policy tool for those working to build an economy that is equitable, resilient, and prosperous—in regions, states, and nationwide. Join a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28, on the Atlas, where speakers will describe the equity framework, take you on a tour of the Atlas, and share examples of how foundations can employ equity data and policy strategies to foster inclusive growth. Join speakers, including the Budget & Tax Center's Tazra Mitchell, in sharing examples and ideas about how data on changing demographics and equity can advance the conversations and strategies needed to build an equitable economy.

Transportation is a crucial piece of this equity framework, and there are important choices to make about transit here in the Triangle. If you're a Wake County resident, we encourage you to take a look at Wake County's new Transit Choices Report. It is of vital importance to consider equity in these transit plans to make sure that low-income people can get from home to work, school, and back again, so make your voice a part of the transit planning process. Take this quick survey on transit to share your thoughts with Wake County staff.


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