budget

23 advocacy groups call on lawmakers to vote to sustain the Governor's veto and oppose anything short of closing the Medicaid coverage gap

23 advocacy groups signed on to a letter Wednesday asking lawmakers to vote to sustain Governor Cooper's veto of the Republican budget. The groups are calling on lawmakers to stand strong in favor of Medicaid expansion, which they call the "the single most powerful policy tool for improving community health, reducing poverty, and enhancing economic opportunity in our state"
 
The groups also opposed work requirements and premiums which would fall short of closing the Medicaid coverage gap.
 
"We oppose the addition of unnecessary and costly barriers to care. Work requirements tie up beneficiaries in red tape threatening enrollees with the loss of coverage. [...] The proposed two percent premium of HB655 would force enrollees to choose between health care and putting food on the table for their families. These road blocks are in opposition to the intention of Medicaid Expansion as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act and undermines the objective to provide coverage to the most vulnerable families in our state."
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Part 1: These Democrats voted against Medicaid expansion - here's what their vote cost their districts

Rep. Cecil Brockman’s district received more than $2.7M in nonrecurring funds in the 2019 budget but could have benefitted from $683M in increased economic activity and $7.7M in increased tax revenue by 2022 with Medicaid expansion. 35,194 more people in Guilford county could have health care by 2022 if Medicaid were expanded.

Rep. Howard Hunter voted for a Republican budget that contained $100K in one-time grant money for his district. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion would bring in $30M in increased economic activity and $304K in tax revenue by 2022. 

Rep. Elmer Floyd’s district received nearly $1.4M in nonrecurring funds in the 2019 Republican budget, but Medicaid expansion would bring $141M more in economic activity to his district. 18,451 people in Cumberland county could have health care by 2022 under Medicaid expansion. 

Read part one of the full report here.

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Reps. Pittman, Presnell and Speciale’s votes betray survivors of sexual abuse

On Wednesday the NC House overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the time period during which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue perpetrators for damages. Only 10 House members did not back the measure, which would extend the statute of limitations from 21 to 38 years of age. Those 10 members included Representatives Larry Pittman, Michele Presnell, and Mike Speciale, who have a demonstrated track record of failing to stand with survivors of sexual abuse.

For example, Presnell and Speciale also attempted to block an amendment that clarified legal ambiguities for survivors of what the law defines as “date rape.” Pittman did not vote either way on the amendment, despite being present in the chamber. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chaz Beasley, “better protect[s] victims that have been drugged without their knowledge.” No Republicans gave a substantive reason for their attempt to block protections for survivors of rape. Fortunately, Beasley’s amendment, which was inspired by a rape survivor who found the legal ambiguity an impediment to justice, passed despite Republican efforts.

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While Sen. Don Davis supported Republican’s lackluster education budgets schools in his district struggle to compete

NC Senate Republicans rolled out their version of this session’s budget Tuesday and the full Senate is likely to vote on it by the end of this week. In the House, a few Democrats sided with the Republican’s plan despite its failings, including a refusal to extend a raise to teachers with fewer than 16 years of experience. In the Senate’s version, teacher pay raises are even smaller. The Republican budget appears to again ignore the struggles of local school districts, like those in Greene and Pitt counties, to keep pace with state and national levels.

Public schools in Senator Don Davis’s district are struggling while he supports Republican education budgets. Greene and Pitt counties can’t keep up with wealthier counties on teacher pay, ranking 108 and 82 out of 115, respectively, for average teacher pay. Average teacher pay in Greene county is $48,965.53, more than $5,000 less than the statewide average. In Pitt county, average teacher pay is more than $3,000 less than the statewide average.

Counties have been forced to make up for low teacher pay at the state level by offering salary supplements to teachers. According to Public School Forum, the average supplemental salary statewide is $4,580. Greene county’s supplement is just $1,000 while Pitt’s is $2,382. Lackluster state budgets have put county governments in a difficult position where they have to choose between offering competitive teacher salaries or providing other vital services to residents. This year’s proposed budget calls for a slight teacher raise, but it only applies to teachers with at least 16 years of experience and does not go into effect immediately. The Senate’s version of this year’s budget also fails to restore advanced degree pay for teachers.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Senator Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg)

Dan Bishop (R- Mecklenburg) is serving his second term in the NC Senate. Prior to joining the NC Senate, Bishop was a representative in the NC House for one term.

Bishop repeatedly voted against making health care more affordable and accessible for North Carolinians.He was the only NC Senator to favor big pharmaceutical companies over North Carolinians and vote against H384, a bill that protected small community pharmacists and kept prescriptions affordable. Bishop, along with other Senate Republicans, chose to amend a school safety bill to include provisions intended to destabilize the Affordable Care Act, once again failing to protect North Carolinians’ health care.

Bishop was a primary sponsor of HB2, demonstrating how little he cares about protecting the LGBTQ+ community in NC. Not only did HB2 fail to protect the LGBTQ+ community, but it also cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Bishop was more than willing to prioritize his discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community above the NC economy.

In 2015 Bishop voted to increase taxes on NC families and small business owners, making it more expensive to do business, get a driver’s license, and have a baby. He also voted to cut food stamps for 100,000 North Carolinians. Read more here.

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Teacher donation requests display the legislature’s failure to fund classroom needs

The 2019 budget included a provision to grant a site called DonorsChoose, which connects teachers with crowdfunding for classroom supplies and other needs. The budget provision faced criticism because it specifically funded requests only in then-Sen. Jeff Tarte’s district. DonorsChoose decided to turn down the funding rather than single out specific teachers for help.

Real Facts examined a sample of the requests made on the DonorsChoose website by North Carolina teachers throughout the month of March 2019 and found that basic needs (supplies available at an office supply store) made up 24 percent of requests, following technology needs as the second most common request category. Teachers across the state turned to an independent crowdfunding website to ask for paper, markers, pencils for EOG testing, and whiteboards because state funding remains consistently inadequate on this front.

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Republicans in NCGA show contempt for rape survivors, again.

Last week, Republican Representative Mitchell Setzer (R-Catawba) along with co-sponsors Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) introduced H305, a bill designed to bolster protections for UNC students accused of sexual misconduct. Specifically, the bill would “standardize protections” for students enrolled across all 16 campuses of the UNC system and add due process guarantees.

In a moment of public reckoning and conversation about survivors of sexual violence catalyzed by #metoo and the Kavanaugh hearings, conservative leaders have centered the rights of the accused. North Carolina Republicans’ legislative impulses align nationally with controversial U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’. Devos changed Title IX application into an almost unrecognizable form and rescinded the 2011 “Dear Colleague” guidance from the Obama Administration regarding sexual misconduct. The Devos guidelines narrow the definition of sexual harassment, allow colleges to use stricter standards of proof, limit the cases a college is required to investigate, and allow accusers to be cross-examined. In sum, the new rules favor the accused, as well as colleges and universities, a major departure from Obama-era guidelines that took strides to center survivors in a process mired in bureaucratic ambiguity.

However, despite conservative outcry, the concern over false allegations of sexual misconduct, like fears of in-person voter fraud, are more specter than substance. As study after study affirms that false rape allegations (like voter fraud) are incredibly rare, legislators still spend their time and valuable taxpayer dollars fighting both.

To add insult to injury, all three representatives co-sponsoring H305 voted against additional protections for survivors in North Carolina.
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low teacher pay in North Carolina is a crisis

Have you talked to a teacher in North Carolina recently? Or, more importantly, have you really listened to one? If you know or care about any teachers in this state, you most likely have witnessed their struggle to make ends meet under salaries that do not reflect their unremitting workload.

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Days before the election Rep. Ted Davis equivocates on GenX and blames his opponent for…not being an incumbent(?)

In a WHQR interview on Wednesday, Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) tried to shift blame for his failure to fund DEQ to handle the GenX crisis to the Senate, DEQ, and his Democratic opponent, a first time candidate for office and political newcomer.

Davis began the interview by admitting his failure to stand up to the Senate. He claims he wanted to fund DEQ, but that the Senate wanted to fund the NC Policy Collaboratory. This resulted in funding for a body that can only research chemicals, not enforce laws or regulations to protect clean water.

Davis quickly shifted blame for this failure to DEQ, saying the agency could have shut down Chemours, the company responsible for putting GenX in the Cape Fear River for years. However, he voted for the 2017 budget that continued funding cuts to DEQ just days after news of the GenX spill broke and the 2018 budget that gave Chemours lobbyists everything they wanted.

He also doubled down on his questionable TV ad that implies his opponent, Marcia Morgan, a retired Army Colonel, possessed the legislative powers to solve the GenX crisis. When asked about how to bring more civility into politics, Davis again criticized Morgan for not doing enough.He cited his online petition to stop GenX pollution as a solution.

Morgan is outspoken on protecting drinking water.

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UNC BOG Series Part III: Lack of communication on million-dollar ad campaign raises questions about its motive

At the beginning of October, coinciding with the opening of FASFA applications for 2019, the NC Promise program launched an ad campaign to promote the new plan. “We Promise” aims to raise awareness amongst North Carolinians about the opportunity to utilize NC Promise, which UNC claims will make higher education more affordable for students, yet has many low-income students paying more out-of-pocket costs. The marketing campaign comes with a $1 million price tag.

The News & Observer reported that the legislature funded the marketing push but did not specify who requested the funding. A public records request for any correspondence between Margaret Spellings, President of the UNC System, Drew Moretz, Vice President for State Government Relations for the UNC System, Timothy Minor, Vice President for University Advancement for the UNC System, Andrew P. Kelly, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy for the UNC System, Camille Barkley, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Josh Ellis, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Clayton Somers, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Secretary to UNC-Chapel Hill, Amy Auth, Director of State Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina General Assembly turned up no communication. According to this, there was absolutely no communication about a $1 million ad campaign between any members of the UNC System’s senior staff.

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