Commentary

Leading HB2 supporter says banning discrimination against LGBT people “undermines freedom”

The head of the misnamed NC Values Coalition confirmed again this week what we already knew about the real motivation behind HB2.

Coalition head Tammy Fitzgerald said in an absurd column run on the Daily Signal, part of the Heritage Foundation, that any effort to add discrimination protections for LGBT people to state law was an effort to “undermine freedom and empower the state to punish and silence its citizens for peacefully living and working according to their core convictions.”

Got that? Making it illegal to fire or deny services to a gay person simply because they are gay somehow undermines freedom and punishes and silences citizens.

Wonder if Fitzgerald thinks that making it illegal to refuse to serve African-Americans at a restaurant undermines freedom too?  Maybe it’s time for signs in windows saying “Only Straights Served Here.”

Her offensive claims are the latest reminder that HB2 is not really about bathrooms, as offensive as those provisions in the law are. It is about denying basic civil rights to LGBT people in North Carolina. Period.

That’s why the nondiscrimination standard in HB2 includes protections for “biological sex,” not simply sex like the federal law. The U.S. Equal Employment  Commission and federal courts have interpreted sex in the federal law as providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fitzgerald and other supporters of HB2 couldn’t have that, so they added biological sex to HB2. They went of their way to discriminate.

Sorry, HB2 has nothing to do with freedom. It is about discrimination and bigotry, pure and simple.

2017 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Inital review of Governor’s K-12 education budget: Falls short of ensuring public schools have adequate resources

Gov. McCrory’s proposed revised budget for K-12 education for the upcoming fiscal year maintains the status quo for public investments in public schools. Under the Governor’s budget, state funding per student remains well below pre-recession spending when adjusted for inflation and schools will continue to be hurting for resources.*

Teacher pay is just one thing on a long list that needs to be addressed so that public schools are able to deliver a top-notch education to all students. And while additional funding for pay increases for educators is much welcomed, this increase is largely delivered as one-time bonuses. As the only major component of the Governor’s education budget that is possible under the tax-cut constrained reality, it leaves far more needed to ensure every child’s access to a quality education.

Consequently, the Governor’s proposed budget once again challenges schools to do more with fewer resources and support despite heightened expectations regarding student achievement.

Here are key items in the K-12 education budget. Read more

2017 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Follow the money: The Governor’s budget keeps phased-in income tax cuts on the books, proposes no further rate changes, and leaves nearly $5 million on the table

Today, Governor Pat McCrory unveiled a budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year that provides modest funding increases to support early learning, education, mental health, and inconsistent pay bumps for teachers and state employees. His $22.3 billion budget proposal represents a 2.8 percent—or $600 million—increase over the current 2016 fiscal year budget.

The Governor’s budget proposal, in large part, is one that stays the course. That’s because his ability to replace the worst cuts from the economic downturn and address pressing needs is severely constrained by the recent tax cuts that he signed into law. His proposal allows these tax cuts—which primarily benefit profitable corporations and the wealthy—to continue to phase in as scheduled. All told, recent tax cuts are expected to cost more than $2 billion annually once all tax cuts go into effect.

That price tag is coming at the expense of providing pay raises and cost of living adjustments for all workers as well as strengthening education, public health and safety, and the other building blocks of a strong economy. His proposed modest levels of reinvestment are a small fraction of what is needed to realize his own stated principles of preparing for future growth and helping those who are struggling in today’s economy, as noted in the NC Budget & Tax Center’s public statement.

In fact, his budget would keep state support for services below pre-recession levels, when adjusted for inflation. That would be fine if public needs had shrunk. But they have grown. Read more

2017 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Delivering efficient, effective, equitable public services

The operations of government and the targeted deployment of public services for public goals is the purpose of the General Government budget area.

In year’s past, the General Government area of the budget has supported important investments in affordable housing development and the supports to managing efficient and effective core functions of government.

Here are a few of the key items to highlight in the General Government budget:

• Creates a statewide network that develops and leverages existing NC entrepreneurial management talent and recruits investors, entrepreneurs and managers to NC ($2.5 million).

• Translates University research and development for commercialization through non-profits or housing entities ($2.5 million).
• Provides funding to conduct a School Facility Needs Assessment for low-wealth counties (despite an existing assessment indicating that $8 billion is needed for school construction). In 2013, lawmakers eliminated a dedicated school construction fund via the corporate income tax revenue in order to pay down the cost of the income tax rate cuts ($1 million).

• Funds to support access to permanent, community-based integrated housing for individuals with disabilities, directly supporting Olmstead Settlement ($5.5 million). Provides no additional funding for the Housing Trust Fund or the Workforce Housing Fund, despite pressing needs.

• Provides additional funding for the Human Relations Commission, which lawmakers placed on a continuation review last year ($788,076).

• Expands elections outreach to help ensure fair elections (but leaves in place recent election law changes such as Voter ID) and implements a new campaign e-filing process (more than $900,000).