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Human service agencies held a press briefing in Raleigh today to call attention to the ongoing (and growing) pain afflicting people in need as the results of the absurd acroos-the-board “sequestration” cuts enacted by Congress eralier this year.  WRAL.com has the story here.

This is from a press release distributed at the event:

As both houses of Congress continue to debate the next steps in the federal budget, non-profit groups from around the Triangle hosted a press conference Tuesday to address the extreme damage already done to working families in North Carolina due to automatic, across-the-board sequestration and to call for replacing sequestration with a balanced approach that includes new revenues. Read More

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This letter to the editor from today’s News and Observer was particularly compelling to me:

DHHS a mess

Public health in N.C. has been my life for 30 years, resulting in an award of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. My retirement has not stopped my continued care, concern and work on behalf of public health in this wonderful state that has always been my home.

The problem started when Gov. Pat McCrory lost the best, most exciting director of public health we have had in years: Dr. Laura Gerald. Now, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos has fired Dr. Rebecca King from her job leading the department’s oral health division in a cheap and pathetic power play. King served this state with intelligence, integrity and devotion for years. King and Dr. Jean Spratt were powerful leaders – by example.

The shocking and exorbitant payments that Wos arranged as compensation in consulting fees for an employee of her husband’s firm – a blatant and unethical conflict of interest – would have paid the annual salaries of most of the doctors and dental hygienists who were recently terminated from our health programs.

Something is very wrong. I encourage the legislature and you to dig as deeply as possible to find the truth and restore integrity and true care to N.C. public health.

BECKY S. BOWDEN, DURHAM

 

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As Clayton Henkel notes below, the General Assembly returns to Raleigh today to override the Governor’s vetoes of a pair of bills dealing with immigrant workers and drug testing of public benefits applicants.

In response, the good folks at Public School First NC released a statement this morning that highlights what lawmakers ought to be doing now that they’re back in the Capital City:

PUBLIC SCHOOLS FIRST NC URGES LEGISLATURE TO REINSTATE FUNDS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
Despite Promises of Job Growth, Teaching Positions Cut Across North Carolina

Raleigh, NC—September 3, 2013— As the General Assembly convenes for a special session, Public Schools First NC urges legislators to acknowledge the drastic budget impacts already, affecting public education and to use this opportunity to restore funding. The predicted consequences of these cuts—the loss of teacher and teacher assistant positions, increases to class size, inadequate instructional supplies, and the trimming of special programs—comes on the heels of promises by elected officials to promote job growth. Read More

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Today’s lead editorial in the Greensboro News & Record provides a civics lesson for conservative state House members trying to escape responsibility for the state’s declining commitment to public education:

“Stung by ‘outrageous claims’ that they cut school spending, N.C. House Republicans responded with a ‘fact sheet’ that blames cities and counties….

This is a dodge. In North Carolina, state funds cover the bulk of K-12 costs because the state constitution assigns responsibility to the legislature. Local governments are allowed to supplement state appropriations for school operating expenses but are not required to do so….

After terming the GOP claims a “shabby political strategy,” the editorial concludes this way:

“If Republican legislators want to shift that burden to local governments, they’ll have to rewrite the constitution.”

To which, all a body can say is: Don’t give these guys any ideas!

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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Education cutsIt’s actually pretty remarkable that we even need a study to confirm something so obvious (What’s next? “Study confirms that days get longer in the summer and shorter in the winter”??) but a new study by the Economic Policy Institute does confirm once again what anyone with any common sense has long understood — namely, that investing in public education pays big dividends for states.

Here are the key findings — to which we can only wish Gov. McCrory, Art Pope and the General Assembly would pay attention: Read More