Commentary

There are new numbers out out today that confirm the remarkable, ongoing and encouraging growth of North Carolina’s immigrant population. As the American Immigration Council reports:

“Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in the electoral swing state of North Carolina. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 7.6% of the state’s population, while more than one in 10 North Carolinians are Latino or Asian. Moreover, Latinos and Asians wield $25.7 billion in consumer purchasing power. At last count, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $10.1 billion and employed more than 63,000 people. As the economy continues to grow, North Carolina can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.”

The following infographic provides more details:

Immigrants infographic 2015

Commentary

The good folks at Environment North Carolina and Environment America are out with a new report that flags one of North Carolina’s biggest industrial polluters for polluting our national policy debate as well. This is from the release that accompanied the report:

New Report Links Smithfield River Pollution to Political Spending

Raleigh, NC – The owner of Smithfield Foods spent $1.4 million on lobbying in a single year, according to a new report by Environment North Carolina The enormous spending came after Smithfield Packaging dumped over 2.3 million pounds of toxic chemicals into North Carolina’s waterways in 2012.

“Spending millions on lobbying and campaign contributions shouldn’t give polluters a free pass to dump toxins into our waterways,” said Liz Kazal, Environment North Carolina Field Associate. “We need to do more to ensure that the streams that flow into places like Jordan Lake and the Deep River are protected.”

Environment North Carolina’s report links discharges of toxic chemicals as reported in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012 with federally reported campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures for 2014.

Major findings of the report include:

  • Smithfield Foods dumped 2,339,770 pounds of toxic pollution into North Carolina’s waterways.
  • Smithfield Packaging Company spent $1.4 million dollars on lobbying and $204,006 on 2014 campaign cycle.

Right now, polluters are lobbying their allies on Capitol Hill to derail EPA’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to 135,907 miles of streams in North Carolina. Loopholes in the law currently leave the waterways that feed the drinking water for 4.7 million North Carolinians at risk.

The report goes on to explain the horrific impact of water pollution like Smithfield’s (both on our natural environment and surrounding businesses). Click here to read more and learn about corporate lobbying to block clean-up efforts by the federal EPA.

News

After hours of emotional debate, the Charlotte City Council voted Monday evening against an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

Hundreds packed the council chamber and more than 120 people signing up to have their say.

The policy would have added marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in the City’s non-discrimination ordinances.

Opponents quoted scripture, described the proposal as “wicked” and “evil”, and questioned the safety of their families if a transgender person were allowed access to the public bathroom of their choosing.

Supporters of the non-discrimination proposal argued that 17 states and more than 200 municipalities have passed similar policies.

Council members removed the bathroom provision before their final vote, but that measure failed 6-5.

Click below to watch a 3-minute clip of the heated debate, which lasted more than five hours in the standing-room only council chambers.

Read the original ordinance here.

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News

LW-Differentiated-Pay1cState lawmakers plan to run a pilot program this year that will take a gander at differentiated teacher pay plans. The pilot calls on local school districts to submit proposals that would pay teachers on the basis of their students’ performance on standardized tests, teaching in hard-to-staff areas and subjects or taking on leadership roles.

The Asheville Citizen-Times highlighted some of the concerns of local educators and leaders around the idea of paying some teachers more than their equally-qualified colleagues.

But some districts, in submitting their plans, raised concerns about the effectiveness of performance-based pay and avoided making specific recommendations using performance standards. Instead, they focused on extra pay for teachers in hard-to-staff areas or for teachers who take on leadership roles.

“We had a number of concerns, primarily we were concerned about the impact that a differentiated pay plan would have on teamwork within the school building,” said Macon County School Superintendent Chris Baldwin.

Teachers were concerned as well. Read More

News

Gov. Pat McCrory was in Charlotte Monday and offered a preview of his education budget, the Charlotte Observer’s Andrew Dunn reports.

McCrory mentioned keeping his promise of boosting salaries for beginning teachers up to $35,000 — and if locals want to boost salaries of other teachers, they could use discretionary funds to make that happen.

(Click here for a rundown of other education budget items McCrory mentioned today)

In response to an outcry over North Carolina ranking 48th in the nation in teacher pay, last year lawmakers implemented a new teacher salary schedule that gave big raises to beginning teachers (an idea touted by McCrory) while offering very little to veteran teachers and making deep cuts to teacher assistants. The plan raised beginning teacher pay up to $33,000 last year and promised to raise it to $35,000 for 2015-16.

Read More