After a recent community meeting we had in Rocky Mount, a group of citizens wanted to give a short message to Governor McCrory and NC legislators about the bill the Governor signed earlier this year blocking billions of federal dollars coming to NC to expand our Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act:
Lots of the discussion around the abortion bill (S353) Gov. McCrory says he will break his campaign pledge and sign has focused on the extensive new regulations aimed at health clinics providing abortion services that are aimed at putting the clinics out of business. There is another part of the bill however that will affect all women in NC who decide to buy private health insurance plans through NC’s new health exchange established as part of national health reform.
With this bill McCrory and NC legislators will prevent women, who are buying health plans in the health exchange with their own money, from choosing to buy health plans that cover abortion services. Read More…
Note: The Commerce Department has taken issue with my characterization of Decker’s comments, please see a note about their objections below.
N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker told a group of reporters in Raleigh Monday that turmoil and conflict surrounding this year’s state legislative session has made it difficult to sell North Carolina on the national stage.
“I’m fielding calls every day , ‘what the heck’s going on (over) there?,’” Decker said, in response to a question about the turmoil surrounding this year’s legislative session. She added, “The current environment makes it very challenging to market North Carolina.”
Decker’s comments were made Monday while speaking to a group of reporters in Raleigh and were in response to a question about how receptive businesses were to the state given the national attention that the ambitious, conservative agenda, including an extensive proposal to change the state’s tax system, at the N.C. General Assembly have earned. The weekly arrests of protestors upset at what they see is an agenda that hurts the poor and middle-class at “Moral Mondays” events have also brought a considerable amount of national attention to the state.
She also said that the state’s current corporate income tax is too high in order to be competitive, and that she plans on continuing to use incentives as a way to lure employers to the state.
Decker added to her comments, saying that she doesn’t believe the state has lost any jobs as a result of the controversy surrounding Jones Street but has heard from company’s concerned about what will happen to the state’s corporate tax rates.
North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation, and Decker said she’s been concentrating much of her effort on addressing job shortfalls.
This year has seen weekly arrests of protests at Moral Monday’s events and messages coming from Republican leaders in the legislature has been about a state left with broken systems after decades of Democratic leadership.
Unemployment drops as 70,000-plus jobless North Carolinians face July 1 cliff (with county-level chart)
Unemployment dropped last month to 8.8 percent, the fourth straight month of decline as the nation’s economy is regaining its footing, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers released Friday by the N.C. Division of Employment Security.
Nationally, North Carolina is still lagging behind the national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.
But the situation is far from rosy for those still looking for jobs.
In less than two weeks, the state will block 71,000 people July 1 from receiving extended unemployment benefits, federal money that was supposed to flow through the long-term unemployment through the end of the year.
North Carolina, the only state to effectively reject the federal money, is implementing a new, expansive unemployment insurance system adopted by the legislature earlier this year that will aggressively pay down $2.5 billion in debt the state took on in the height of the recession. The maximum amounts of benefits and length of time the jobless can receive benefits were slashed as part of the changes.
Previously, jobless workers could receive up to 26 weeks of benefits, but the state’s new plan will have a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks, based on local unemployment figures and other factors.
Denise Davis is one of those who will be cut off from benefits on July 1. Davis, of Greensboro, said she’s been out of work since last November after being laid off from her job at vitamin production plant.
The single mom of two teenagers said she’s struggled to find replacement work for her $50,000 a year job, and has applied for hundreds of jobs with no responses. Last week, she attended a job opening event at a Burger King and was one of 80 people applying for three jobs at the fast food restaurant.
She hasn’t heard back to see if she’s being considered.
“I’ve been working all my life and I got displaced from my job,” Davis said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I going to pay my mortgage?”
There will be an immediate cutoff of 71,000 people on July 1, and the numbers of those affected by the legislative changes are expected to grow in coming months, as high as 170,000 and more than $700 million in federal money that would have flowed through to jobless workers.
Budget writers could delay the start date of the changes, and allow the federal money to flow through, but there’s been no indication from Republican legislative leaders or Gov. Pat McCrory that will happen.
Mecklenburg County has the most people affected by the July 1 cutoff, followed by Wake, Guilford (where Davis lives) and Cumberland counties.
Below is a searchable database by county of the numbers of those affected by the July 1 cutoff date.
Extended Benefits (Subject to July 1 cut-off)
|OUT OF STATE||6,188||5347|
It looks like Governor McCrory’s role in the big tax cut debate between House and Senate leaders might be merely to market what the legislative leaders come up with.
Here’s what House Speaker Thom Tillis told the News & Observer about McCrory’s role in the discussion about a tax deal.
We need the governor fully on board so he can communicate it and get people to understand it.
That’s a bit of an odd take from Tillis. He didn’t say they need to work with the governor because he is running the state or because he is the top elected official of their own political party or heaven forbid, because he might have some policy ideas and strongly held views of his own about taxes.
No, they need the governor on board only to sell the package that Berger and Tillis decide on. It is pretty clear legislative leaders believe they are in charge in Raleigh these days. McCrory? He is their PR guy.