1. This year’s dirty dozen
Twelve of the most destructive acts taken by the Governor and the 2015 General Assembly
Now that the dust from the seemingly endless 2015 session of the North Carolina legislature has finally started to settle, many people – even regular observers – may find it difficult to remember all that took place. Part of the problem, of course, was the sheer length of the session. After nine months in Raleigh, it started to feel as if lawmakers had been in session forever. Add to this the fact that this was the fifth consecutive session in which hard right conservatives dominated state policymaking and there’s no doubt that a sense of numbness had started to afflict a lot of caring and thinking people.
One of the most troubling byproducts of the past nine months is the narrative that’s emerged in some circles that 2015 wasn’t actually all that bad. Owing in part to the friendlier face offered up by House Speaker Tim Moore, who sometimes eschewed the confrontational, our-way-or-the-highway approach favored by state senate leaders and his predecessor Thom Tillis, some progressives – especially single issue advocates who may have succeeded in preserving a specific program or defeating an especially regressive proposal – have spoken in almost cheerful tones about 2015. [Continue reading...] 2. The telling saga of the small tax credit for teachers
One of the most revealing decisions about education made by the General Assembly in the last few sessions has nothing to do with teacher assistants or class size or charter school funding. It’s in the tax changes made in the last four years.
In the 2011-2012 legislative session when the new Republican leadership assumed control of the General Assembly, they slashed education funding across the board, cutting everything from school buses to textbooks to classroom supplies.
They also created a small tax break for teachers who bought supplies out of their own pockets. It was a startling decision, an admission that lawmakers were simply unwilling to give teachers the materials they needed to do their jobs. [Continue reading…]
One of the biggest stories of the 2015 General Assembly is what lawmakers didn’t do and the people they didn’t help.
They again declined to follow the lead of 30 other states and the District of Columbia and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and provide health care coverage for as many as 500,000 low-income adults, create thousands of jobs, and help struggling rural hospitals across the state, two of which have already closed or have announced they are closing.
Lawmakers never seriously considered expanding Medicaid even though the federal government would pick up most of the cost and Governor Pat McCrory never encouraged them to, never proposing a plan like many fellow Republican governors across the country have done.
McCrory has waffled mightily on Medicaid expansion, even as officials in his own health and human services department have publicly discussed presenting him “options for expansion.” [Continue reading…]
While the recently-concluded session of the North Carolina General Assembly felt like it lasted forever, it was only about six months ago that a bill to make child support payments more efficient and effective passed through the House, thus meeting the legislative “crossover” deadline on its way to becoming state law.
With only 65% of owed child support regularly collected in North Carolina, the state obviously has a compelling interest in assuring children are receiving the support possible from both of their parents. Single parent households are more likely to live in poverty in North Carolina, and because women are still more likely than men to be the single primary parent – and households headed by single mothers are the family-type most likely to live in poverty – the original version of House Bill 297 seemed a good step toward increasing economic security for many Tar Heel women when it was first introduced on March 19.
You may be wondering what happened to that bill. While seemingly unrelated, this summer’s release of heavily-edited anti-Planned Parenthood videos (which have now been proven to be completely fraudulent) seems to be what happened. [Continue reading…]
The word “consistency” suggests stability, predictability, normalcy. It implies that we can move on and not worry.
When the State of North Carolina announced our 2014 infant mortality data this week, the official release said “the 2014 statistics are consistent with previous years.” But for our state, consistency in the infant mortality rate is not good—stalled would be a more forthright description.
North Carolina’s infant mortality rate of 7.1 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births remains well above the national average of 5.96 and hasn’t improved since 2010. Furthermore, racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality persist year after year.
Big problems, like North Carolina’s consistently high infant mortality rate, demand bold solutions. Closing the health insurance coverage gap for working North Carolinians, particularly women of childbearing age, would be a good start. [Continue reading…]