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A new poll out today finds North Carolinians of all political backgrounds favor raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing access to paid sick days and establishing local living wage ordinances.shrinwages

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, finds that 62 percent of North Carolina voters support a state law guaranteeing access to paid sick days. Even more North Carolinians, 63 percent, support city and county laws that would establish living wage standards.

The findings come at time that 8 out of every 10 jobs created since 2009 pays below the Living Income Standard, the amount needed for a family inn Northv Carolina to meet its basic needs.

Here’s more the poll findings from the NC Justice Center:

Perhaps most significant: the poll respondents were largely center-right. Even though most poll respondents identified as conservative and the majority voted for Romney, only 29 percent supported “relying on the private market to set wages without public intervention.” By contrast, twice that number – 58 percent of voters – support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage above the current $7.25 per hour standard. And a majority of “somewhat conservative” respondents (51 percent) plus 42 percent of “very conservative” respondents support local living wages as a way to build an economy that works for all.

Most respondents (43 percent) identified themselves as either “very conservative” (19 percent) or “somewhat conservative,” compared to 26 percent identifying as either “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” 32 percent of those polled identified as moderates.

“These results show strong support for worker-friendly policies in North Carolina,” said Carol Brooke of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center. “Paid sick days and living wages build an economy that works for everyone, and the vast majority of North Carolinians recognize that.”

Additionally, the majority of those surveyed judge the state’s job creation track record based on the quality of the jobs created rather than the quantity. 50 percent of those polled were more concerned “that jobs pay a living wage” rather than “that there are enough jobs” (37 percent).

In the face of still-modest job growth and a boom in low-wage work post-recession, such a finding suggests policymakers should focus on policies that create good, quality jobs in order to build an economy that works for all.

The poll surveyed 856 likely voters August 14th-17th. Complete poll results can be viewed here.

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1. Lawmakers inch toward adjournment - This afternoon at 4:30 p.m. the House Rules committee will take up House Bill 1224, legislation that ties together a sales tax and economic development measure to a budget fix that would fund teaching assistant positions for the 2014-15 school year. Incentives and the TA budget fix are the remaining issues to be resolved before the House adjourns. Adjournment resolutions will be considered again this evening when the House meets at 5:00pm.info1

2. Wake County hits one million residents – Wake County’s population is expected to reach one million residents this week. Wake County commissioners will discuss the milestone and population growth at their Monday meeting. The county has put together a great infographic to mark the occassion.

3. Public hearings begin on draft fracking rules – Environmental regulators will hold a series of four hearings over the next few weeks to collect public input on proposed rules for regulating oil and gas development in North Carolina.

This week, the state Mining and Energy Commission’s hearings are scheduled for:
• 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the McKimmon Center,1101 Gorman St., Raleigh
• 5-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22 at the Wicker Center,1801 Nash St., Sanford

Written comments may also be submitted electronically through September 30th on the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources’ website.

4. The state of the U.S. Supreme Court - Few recent rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court have done more to anger caring and thinking Americans and awaken them to the importance of monitoring the federal courts and the judges who serve on them than the now infamous Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision of this past June.

Ian Millhiser, Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress, will be in Raleigh this Thursday to discuss  Hobby Lobby and other momentous decisions by the High Court over the past year. Want to learn more? Click here to register for Thursday’s Crucial Conversation with Millhiser.

5. Back to school education webinar – If you are still a bit confused about how this legislative session has impacted education, you’ll want to carve out time for Thursday night’s education webinar.

Join Public Schools First NC and guests Mark Jewell, Vice President of the NC Association of Educators and Chris Hill, Director of the NC Justice Center Education and Law Project for an online discussion about the effects of recent legislation on North Carolina’s public schools. The webinar will cover:
•    Public school funding
•    Teacher pay .
•    Charter schools
•    Common Core and more
The Public Schools First NC’s webinar will be Thursday, August 21, 7:00 p.m – 8:00p.m. Register for the event here.

6. Moral Week of Action begins Friday – The NC NAACP and the Forward Together movement will stage seven consecutive days of action and a “Jericho March” at the North Carolina State Capitol to highlight and challenge what they say are destructive laws coming out of Raleigh.

Every day for one week, they will gather and demand that Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger repent and repeal their public policy attacks on North Carolinians’ civil and human rights.

Each day they will emphasize several urgent issues and on the final day, Thursday, August 28, the 51st Anniversary of the March on Washington, they will hold a mass rally on Bicentennial Mall for voting rights and voter mobilization – the Vote Your Dreams, Not Your Fears Rally – at 5:30 pm. Events this week include:
•    Friday, Aug. 22 – Labor Rights, Fair and Living Wages, and Economic Justice
•    Saturday, Aug. 23 – Education and Criminal Justice
•    Sunday, Aug. 24 – Equal Protection under the Law: Call for Respect in the Law and in the Community regardless of race, creed, class, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status

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Try as they might, the NC House was unable to wrap-up the short session on Friday. Legislators in that chamber will return for two days next week, in which they hope to conclude their work for the remainder of the year and adjourn.

House Speaker Thom Tillis announced late Friday that the body does not plan to return in November.

The Senate has been clear that their preference is to return after the election and tackle Medicaid reform and a final plan to clean-up the state’s coal ash ponds.

One of the final hurdles for the House will be House Bill 718, which includes a budget fix to help local districts spare the jobs of teaching assistants this school year.

The House meets again on Monday at 5:00 p.m.
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You read that right. The Senate actually passed three unique adjournment resolutions Thursday evening that would allow:

  • lawmakers to wrap-up this session and head home for the year (House Joint Resolution 1276)
  • lawmakers to return November 17th to consider Medicaid reform  (House Joint Resolution 182)
  • lawmakers to head home now, but return November 17th to consider Medicaid funding, bills relating to litigation, as well as any other  legislation where conferees have been appointed by both houses by the end of today (August 15th) (House Joint Resolution 901)

The NC House convenes at 10:00am and will presumably pick one of those options. Stay tuned for the answer to the question Rob Schofield asked earlier this morning: Is this finally THE day?

Click below for a video by The Insider State Government News Service where Rules chairman Sen. Tom Apodaca spells out their options:
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Confusion over teacher pay and the loss of teaching assistants are not the only troubling stories making headlines as the new school year is set to begin.

The Asheville Citizen Times reports today that a reduction in state funding for textbooks will force many Buncombe County students this fall to share their books, or rely on textbooks more than a decade old.

Here’s an excerpt from reporter Julie Ball’s story:

“I have students who come to me every year, and they’ll say I don’t understand why I don’t have a textbook for this class,” Owen High Principal Meg Turner said.

State funding for textbooks has dropped since 2009-10 from more than $111 million or about $76 per student to $23.3 million this year or $15.37 per student, according to Eric Moore, with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

For Buncombe County Schools, funding dropped from around $1.7 million in 2008-09 to around $368,000 in the most recent school year. That’s about $14.26 per student.

State officials say the average cost of a textbook is around $60. High school textbooks can cost around $100, Turner said.

Rather than buying a book for each student, Owen High has been purchasing classroom sets of books that are used by multiple students and remain in the classroom.

“So you might have a set of 30 books to keep in the classroom and the teachers would use those and kids couldn’t take them home,” Turner said.

Turner said some textbooks are available online, but there’s also a cost to those as well.

“My understanding is it has become common practice. Teachers get one classroom set of textbooks now. They do not get one set for each class,” said Anna Stearns, who has a son at Owen High.

Stearns said during her son’s freshman year she spoke with his math teacher to try to find out why her son didn’t have any math homework. Stearns said the teacher told her the school didn’t have textbooks or graphing calculators for students to take home.

Stearns worries about the lack of math practice at home and whether her son will be prepared for out-of-class work that will be required once he gets to college.

Buncombe County Rep. Susan Fisher is also worried about textbook funding. Fisher sat down for an interview with Chris Fitzsimon last weekend to discuss the state budget. In addition to adequate classroom resources, Fisher remains concerned about teacher compensation and changes to longevity pay.

For an excerpt from that radio interview, click below. To read the full story in Wednesday’s Citizen-Times, click here.
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