NC JUSTICE NEWS: The Final Budget + Voter Suppression + "Story of America" Documentary Screening

July 23, 2013

FINAL BUDGET: $20.6 billion budget puts vital public services at risk

Earlier this week legislators released a $20.6 billion budget. It will likely be voted upon and sent to Gov. McCrory for final approval later this week, but unfortunately for North Carolinians, the Governor will be considering a budget that puts our vital public services at risk.

Our legislative leaders delivered a final budget that shorts investments in the foundations of a strong economy, such as schools, public health systems, courts, and communities. Such cuts include stripping funding for teacher assistants as well as the salary boost for teachers with advanced degrees.

Some of these cuts could have been avoided if lawmakers had simply chosen to not drain available revenues by $524 million over the next two years through a series of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations. Such a loss means fewer teachers in crowded classrooms. It means higher tuition rates and elevated debt load for families. Our most vulnerable citizens will have diminished access to economic development opportunities and senior services. In short, neither the tax plan nor the final budget succeeds in strengthening state investments and protecting North Carolinians.

VOTER SUPPRESSION: Bill would introduce unparalleled restrictions to voters

This afternoon, the Senate Rules Committee will roll out a voter suppression bill as the final blow in what has been a devastating 2013 legislative session to North Carolinians.

According to early reports on the proposal, the bill will:

  • End pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds
  • Ban paid voter registration drives
  • Eliminate same day voter registration
  • Shorten the Early Voting period by one week
  • Eliminate straight party ticket voting

And that's just the beginning. The bill would also authorize vigilante poll observers with expanded range of interference, and eliminate flexibility for opening early voting sites at different hours within a county. In addition, it would include a provision that would make it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities.

If such a bill passes, it would be one of the worst and most aggressive attempts to suppress voters' rights in the country. North Carolina, already making national headlines for slashing unemployment benefits, could add "home of the nation's strictest election laws" to its resume. Is that really the reputation we want for our great state?

"STORY OF AMERICA": Join us in Durham for a film screening/town hall event

Join the North Carolina Justice Center and Story of America on Thursday, August 8 for "Story of America: A Nation Divided", a film screening and town hall with documentary filmmakers and social activists Annabel Park and Eric Byler.

The Story of America is a unique documentary project that uses the transformative power of dialogue and storytelling to explore and heal the political, economic and cultural polarization of today's America.

Fifty years after the March on Washington and 150 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this is a good moment to ask ourselves some serious questions about where we are in our history. How much progress has been made? What are our values? How are we realizing them? What unites us as a state, a country and as a people?

We invite you to come be a part of the discussion and filmmaking process by watching clips from Park and Byler’s recent journeys across North Carolina — including Moral Monday events — and to participate in a filmed town hall as part of this unique documentary project as they explore the role of dialogue and deliberation in creating a more informed, engaged and united citizenry. The event will be held at Motorco Music Hall in Durham.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT MEETING: Event covers Medicaid, health exchange

As the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in our state, North Carolina lawmakers have blocked the Medicaid program from being expanded. This means that 500,000 working adults will remain uninsured in 2014.

Join the NC Justice Center's Health Access Coalition on Thursday, July 25, in Rocky Mount for a conversation on the benefits of the ACA and how expanding Medicaid would help the community. The meeting will also cover the new health benefits exchanges (online marketplace for purchasing insurance) and eligibility for tax credits for individuals and small businesses.

The event will be held at the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC)'s Community Health Education Center at 1060 Pinehurst Drive in Rocky Mount from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Reserve your seat today with Nicole Dozier, NC Justice Center: (919) 856-2146 or or contact OIC: (252) 212-3461.

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