public schools

North Carolina Legislator Profile: Linda Hunt Williams (R-Wake)

Real Facts NC’s legislator profile series continues to examine key North Carolina legislators. This time we look at freshman Representative Linda Hunt Williams, going back to her days as a school choice advocate in Charlotte and as Deputy Director of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Williams was an early advocate for private school vouchers, spending state money to send kids to private schools. She was also an original “tea partier” advocating for less government and fewer taxes while working for the Koch-funded N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy. Read the full profile here.

Summary:

Williams has always been a proponent of charter schools and vouchers, but voted to weaken N.C. public schools

  • She promised to improve schools if elected, but instead sponsored a bill that even NACSA, a national charter school advocacy group, advised against. 
  • H779 would allow charter schools to grow by 30 percent before changing their charter, would allow students enrolled in any NC charter school to receive priority enrollment at another charter school, would disaggregate performance data, and would allow charter schools to operate Pre-K programs with state funds.
  • Williams voted for the 2017 Republican budget that shortchanged teachers and allocated $45 million to the controversial school voucher program, despite promises to improve education as a member of the General Assembly.

 Williams got her political start with U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth, and later moved to Koch-funded N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy

  • Williams has a history of advocating for conservative causes and was an original “tea partier” who organized Koch-funded protests at the NC General Assembly demanding fewer taxes and less government
  • Williams was the Deputy Director of N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy between 2001 and 2002. During that time, the group unsuccessfully sued Gov. Mike Easley, faced criticism for lobbying for dropping antitrust action against Microsoft after accepting contributions from Microsoft, and protested at the General Assembly.
  • Williams’ support of the 2017 Republican budget highlights the hypocrisy of these groups. The budget cut taxes for corporations, but failed to re-establish the childcare income tax credit that would have helped over 200,000 families.
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Unconstitutional GOP majority proposes budget—our first take

This unconstitutionally elected Republican majority continues to legislate, not on behalf of the people of North Carolina, but on behalf of their billionaire backers. Instead of protecting the middle class and building world-class public schools, this budget gives tax breaks to billionaires. Under this budget, North Carolina will keep falling behind when it doesn’t have to.

  • The Republican budget fails our schools, middle class families, and the future of our economy at a time when we do not have to.
  • Cooper found a way to raise teacher pay more than 5% next year. Republicans only offer 3.3%. Instead of investing in classrooms, Republicans are giving millions in tax breaks to billionaires.
  • Cooper offered free community college for high school graduates, money to help teachers pay for out-of-pocket expenses, and eliminated the waitlist for pre-K. Republicans did none of those things.
  • Under this budget, we are still spending less that we did before the recession per student, teachers are still underpaid, and we have seven thousand fewer teaching assistants than we did in 2008.
  • Instead of prioritizing education, Republicans are undercutting our kids and it’s our economy that will suffer as North Carolina falls farther and farther behind other states and competitors like China and India. 

In addition to education, the GOP budget fails to provide for critical areas of need for rural North Carolina - including broadband and economic development..

  • Governor Cooper's budget invests $20 million to expand access to broadband and improve the economy of rural North Carolina, while the Republican budget would spend $250,000 on state IT bureaucrats.
  • Cooper proposed $30 million for a ready-sites program to attract new jobs to rural areas. The Republican budget leaves rural areas behind, choosing to spend only $2 million on ready-sites.

The GOP budget also wastes money on projects of the extreme right:

  • The Republican budget spends $1.3 million on an anti-abortion advocacy group that masquerades as a provider of health services to women, pushing dangerous and misleading propaganda on vulnerable women.
  • The GOP spends $40 million on private school vouchers which send tax dollars to unaccountable private and religious schools.

 

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Responses to Gov. McCrory’s Proposed Budget

We found these responses particularly insightful: On Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory released a unambitious state budget, that barely covered the state’s most pressing needs. The Raleigh News & Observer explained it best, “The document runs almost 300 pages. Its expla…

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