NC JUSTICE NEWS: 20th Anniversary Gala + Tax Changes Lead Nowhere Good for NC + 20 Years after TANF

August 23, 2016

CHAMPIONS OF JUSTICE: Celebrate 20 years of the Justice Center on Sept. 10!

We are delighted to celebrate 20 years of service to the residents of North Carolina!

It seems like yesterday that we made the decision to open up the possibilities of public policy advocacy, class action litigation, and community education by merging the NC Client and Community Development Center and NC Legal Service Resource Center to form the NC Justice Center.

Join us for a special night of celebration at the Raleigh Convention Center on Saturday, September 10, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Champion of Justice Awards will be given to:

  • James Andrews
  • Governor Jim Hunt
  • Representative Mickey Michaux
  • Tom Ross
  • Leslie Winner

In addition we will be presenting the Executive Director Award for Service to North Carolina, to Former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, Jr., for his work on criminal justice reform.


TAX CHANGE LEGACY: Flawed approach to taxation proven disastrous for NC

Tax changes passed in the 2016 legislative session reduced the income tax rate and increased reliance on the sales tax in North Carolina, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center. This continued flawed approach to taxation that policymakers have followed since 2013 has proven disastrous to other states’ fiscal and economic outlook.

This plan fails to meet North Carolina’s high standards of fiscal responsibility and will fail to put the state in a competitive position with our neighbors or the rest of the nation. The report finds:

  • The end goal of no income tax will hurt North Carolina’s economy. This would eliminate nearly 60 percent—more than $12 billion—of the state’s General Fund tax dollars. Policymakers will either have to eliminate more than half of their investments in public schools, health care, economic development and public safety, or raise more funds through the sales tax. Or both.
  • The tax code continues to deliver the greatest breaks to the top 1 percent. The top 1 percent has received on net, an average tax cut of $15,500. People earning $44,000 a year received a tax cut of $167, while people who earn less than $12,000 saw their taxes go up $10.
  • The tax plan is a big revenue loser. Revenue loss from tax cuts passed since 2013 equates to nearly 10 percent of total General Fund spending for the 2017 fiscal year.
  • The standard deduction is costly and fails to target low-wage workers. The roughly $120 income tax cut for the majority of taxpayers is barely noticeable for millionaires but not really enough to help workers who are struggling with the lack of wage growth and the higher cost of living.

The tax code as it stands today not only does not address North Carolina’s economic challenges, but instead undercuts the foundations of what have proven to be economy-boosting public investments.

WELFARE "REFORM": How lawmakers have weakened TANF over 20 years

It was 20 years ago this past Monday that President Bill Clinton signed into law what’s widely known as welfare “reform”—an overhaul of the nation’s main assistance program for families struggling to make ends meet.

Lawmakers created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to, as President Clinton pledged, “end welfare as we know it.” And the 1996 welfare law did just that—the reforms created a harsh hole in the nation’s safety net for the most vulnerable families across the U.S.

The welfare law imposed a five-year limit on benefits—ending the legal right to basic assistance—with the expectation that recipients who can work do so. Policymakers also expected states to maintain a temporary safety net to help families weather short-term troubles and a bad economy. The law gave states a great deal of spending flexibility over programs when it converted federal aid to a fixed block grant, but many states like North Carolina have significantly reduced basic assistance without using TANF to help parents prepare for or connect to work.

Check out the Progressive Pulse this week for a blog series that details how lawmakers have weakened TANF over the last 20 years, explain why TANF is a cautionary tale rather than a model for other work and income support programs, and map out a better way forward. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #TANFat20 and #TalkPoverty.

HEALTH ADVOCACY PROJECT: New name, same focus on health care in NC

The NC Justice Center's health care team recently changed from the Health Access Coalition to the Health Advocacy Project. Different name, same mission: to ensure that all North Carolinians, especially underserved populations including low-income families, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural communities, have meaningful access to high quality, affordable, equitable and comprehensive health care.

Here are a few of HAP's health advocacy and policy goals:

  • Expand and protect access to health services for individuals and families who have low and moderate incomes.
  • Secure health care policies that prioritize the needs and well-being of North Carolina consumers, especially with respect to the implementation of Affordable Care Act and NC Medicaid Reform.
  • Provide information to health care consumers, community members, and stakeholders so that they are empowered to become health care advocates.
  • Serve as a voice for health equity.
  • Promote the consumer perspective on state and federal health care policy in the press and at public forums.

All of this will ensure that children, adults, families have better health outcomes and live productive lives. Keep an eye on future work from the Health Advocacy Project!

WELCOMING REFUGEES: Join #DCRally4Refugees this weekend in DC

In the midst of the greatest refugee crisis since WWII, advocates from across the country will gather at ‪#‎DCRally4Refugees on Sunday, August 28, 2016, at the outdoor Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument on the National Mall from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The rally will raise awareness about the magnitude of the global refugee crisis, encourage advocacy and U.S. action to alleviate suffering through relief efforts and support, and stand in solidarity with refugees and displaced people worldwide.

We encourage you to visit and like the Facebook paeg for RefugeesWelcomeNC, a statewide network welcoming refugees to North Carolina.

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