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UPDATED REPORT: NC Legislature Races to Watch 2018

With Democrats in 170 legislative seats, Republicans in 169, and even Libertarians filing in 35 legislative districts, 2018 is shaping up to be one of the most pivotal legislative elections in North Carolina history. And with no race on the ballot above Supreme Court, these elections will get more attention than ever before.

This report combines an analysis of district voting data, national and state polling plus qualitative factors like local issues and relative candidate strength. In total, we think that 35 House races and 13 Senate races are shaping up to have competitive campaigns run by both of the major parties in districts that could conceivably go to either. We have also identified a handful of other races worth keeping an eye on for other reasons.

We’ll look at the 35 House races and 13 Senate races we think will be the most competitive in the fall and a handfull of other races we think will be interesting to watch for other reasons. Read the House report here and the Senate report here

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UPDATED: S75 is a Millionaires Protection Act

Making the Middle Class Tax Shift Permanent 

S75 – The “Millionaires Protection Act” is meant to make Republican Politicians radical tax shift from those at the top to working families permanent 

The “Millionaires Protection Act” would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that locks in income tax rates that largely benefit the wealthy – over the last four years the average millionaire saved almost $15,000, while the average family saved only $6 (that’s SIX dollars) a year from the tax changes enacted by Republican politicians. 

  • While the income tax change may sound like a good deal, Raleigh politicians will look for other ways to raise taxes, and they’ll be left with sales taxes and fees that take a bigger bite out of the pockets of working families. What might seem saved in your paycheck you’ll more than pay back at the cash register.
  • How do we know they’ll raise sales taxes and fees – because that’s what they’ve been doing! Over the last three years Republicans have enacted three tax hikes on working families through news sales and service taxes and fees meaning you pay more to send a kid to college, put gas in your car and get it repaired, and even to keep the lights on at your home. 

In order to lock in these huge tax cuts for millionaires, Republican politicians will also be locking in current education funding that is lower per student than it was before the recession and causes North Carolina to be ranked 45th for teachers in the country.

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North Carolina Candidate Profile: Judge Barbara Jackson

In this Real Facts NC Candidate Profile, we turn our attention to the North Carolina Supreme Court and Associate Justice Barbara Jackson. Jackson was elected to the NC Supreme Court in 2010 and is running for re-election this upcoming November. Before becoming an Associate Justice, Jackson was elected as a judge on the NC Court of Appeals and served for six years. Prior to her judgeship, Jackson practiced law for fourteen years, including time as General Counsel to Republican Cherie Berry in the NC Department of Labor and in the office of Republican Governor James G. Martin. Read the full profile of Jackson here.

“We are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly's judgment.” – Jackson in Dickson v. Rucho, on the right of the General Assembly to keep secret its communications about the 2011 legislative maps that were later ruled unconstitutional.

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New study of 20 million traffic stops in NC finds stark racial disparities

Professors at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Texas studied North Carolina traffic stop data back to 2002 and found stark racial disparity in policing at stops. City Lab first reported on highlights of the 20 million stops analyzed by researchers.

This research comes after N.C. passed legislation that adds instruction on how to behave in a traffic stop to driver’s education curriculum.

There are about one to 1.6 million traffic stops each year in N.C. and about 10 million people living in the state. This means North Carolinians should have a 10 to 15 percent chance of being pulled over each year.

However, when this data is broken down by race, odds of being pulled over were significantly higher for black drivers when compared to white and latinx drivers. On average, black drivers were 60 to 70 percent more likely to have been stopped when controlling for population density. This racial bias is most likely to be underestimating the disparity when taking access and ownership to cars, which is greater in white populations, into account. 

That is why researchers gave the most attention to data around who gets searched after a traffic stop as a more clear indicator of racial disparities. When researchers controlled for reason for stop, time of day, day of week, month of year, and specific law enforcement agency they found that young people, men, and people of color are much more likely to be searched after a traffic stop 

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Republicans file constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, opens path for NCGA to define acceptable forms of ID

House Speaker Tim Moore announced filing of H1092, a bill that would add voter ID requirements to the NC Constitution if voters approve it on their ballots in November.

Voters would not know the specifics of photo ID requirements, like if student or military IDs count, prior to voting. If the measure is approved by voters, lawmakers would then be allowed to decide what specific types of ID the state would accept at the polls.

This move comes after Republicans’ 2013 “monster” voter ID bill was struck down by the courts for “targeting African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” ACLU and Democracy NC have already come out against this revival of voter ID which they say amounts to voter suppression.

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Video: “The horror:” N.C. Republicans again show they’re out of touch with the reality of teaching in N.C.

During discussion of the 2018 Republican budget, Rep. Dana Bumgardner (R-Gaston) used the example of his father, a teacher and principal in the 1950s, to explain how easy teachers have it in 2018.

“When my dad taught back in the 1950s he got paid for nine months a year” Rep. Bumgardner said, “and in the summer he would go get a job and work, the horror.”

“The horror” 

N.C. has the third highest number of teachers working second jobs outside of the school system.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics compiled by EdNCover half of all North Carolina teachers have a second job. Though the data doesn’t clarify whether those jobs are specifically held over the summer, it is pretty apparent that teachers in 2018 are working just as hard as Rep. Bumgardner’s father did to make ends meet.

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Opinion: When your governing philosophy becomes a political liability

Republican leaders in Raleigh have taken unprecedented steps to pass this year’s budget behind closed doors. They will likely finish that up Friday, and they don’t plan to do much else this session so they can get back to fundraising from lobbyists and glad-handing in their districts. It is clear they have been forced to limit the amount of time they spend doing the jobs they were elected to do because Republican priorities have proven so deeply unpopular that even members once in safely gerrymandered districts face real challengers.

Seven years ago, shortly after historic wins brought Republicans into control of both chambers of the legislature for the first time in a decade, Thom Tillis, then the newly elected House Speaker laid out their agenda in a candid moment caught on camera. Tillis said that their philosophy was one to “divide and conquer” North Carolinians. Nearly a decade into Republican control we can see Tillis’s philosophy has been implemented with almost surgical precision.

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The State of Public Education in NC: Racial Inequity

Last week, we published a report highlighting the erosion of North Carolina's public education system following the 2008 recession and the 2010 Republican takeover in the General Assembly. Today, we look further into the state of racial equity in public schools around the state and explore how disparities in race and socioeconomic status have caused students of color to fall further behind. 

In North Carolina, the achievement gap between wealthy and low-income students widened more than any other state between 2011 and 2014. This has been partially due to the resegregation of school districts as desegregation tactics have been abandoned in favor of the "neighborhood school" model.

North Carolina charter schools have further segregated students.

Students of color have disparately higher rates of punishment, such as short- and long-term suspension, than white students.

Students of color underperform their white counterparts in nearly every educational metric, even when controlling for factors like economic disparities and limited language proficiency.

See the full report here

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Video: Chris Malone can't face North Carolina's rallying teachers, sends intern to answer the tough questions about low teacher pay

Tens of thousands of teachers from across the state rallied in Raleigh on the first day of session to protest lack of funding for education. Teachers packed the legislative building and the gallery of House and Senate Chambers to confront their legislators about what is actually happening in classrooms around the state. After the House and Session senate quickly adjourned, teachers remained in the legislative building to seek out their representatives. While Democratic legislators largely stayed to speak to constituents, Republicans were nowhere to be found.

Instead, inside Republican legislative offices printed on large poster board in color ink (which many teachers across the state could not afford to print at the own schools for their students) were “Teacher Pay Facts” signs. The only problem—the teachers present claimed they had seen none of that money.

Outside of former Wake County School Board Member and current House member Chris Malone’s (R-Wake) office, teachers gathered at an open door hoping to find a legislator to speak with.

Chris Malone could not face North Carolina’s teachers and instead opted to send his intern to answer questions about one of the most pressing issues in the state. Hopefully next time the North Carolina citizens who pay his salary travel to make their voices heard, Malone can give them a few minutes of his time.

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