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Paul Stam 2

Rep. Paul Stam

Faced with the hard reality of a growing state budget shortfall resulting from their ill-advised tax giveaways to wealthy individuals and profitable corporations, state legislative leaders have apparently opted to try to spin their way out of the mess.

House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam was the latest to try out a little song and dance step on the issue yesterday when he issued a statement claiming that there is no shortfall because “After controlling for population and inflation, we are likely to have just as much revenue in 2014-15 as we did in 2013-14.”

This is classic political double-speak.

The fact of the matter is that a budget shortfall exists when the state does not bring in enough money in a new year to pay for the level of services it provided in the previous year. It’s not about “growing government” as Stam alleges; it’s about sustaining the services we have — i.e. not raising class sizes, not cutting health care reimbursements for the disabled, not further decimating our broken courts system, etc….

Right now, it’s clear that the 2013 tax cuts have led directly to a situation in which the state will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars less than it needs just to keep things going at their already inadequate levels in the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Indeed, as a percentage of total state income, state spending during the current year is already at 1970’s levels.

The bottom line: Try as Stam and his allies might to lower the bar with talk of red herrings like inflation and population growth, they simply won’t be able to spin their way out of this situation. And absent some kind of dramatic ideological turnaround that would lead to the implementation of the kind of policy changes that would produce a truly responsible state budget, North Carolinians will soon suffer the consequences of this latest ill-conceived and destructive experiment in trickledown economics.

Commentary

marriage amendmentAccording to news reports, Representative Paul Stam will hold some kind of legislative “briefing” tomorrow on a “religious freedom” bill that would permit magistrates and other state employees to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses if it violates their own religious beliefs.

This is an enormously troubling idea.

From a legal standpoint, permitting state employees to refuse to perform the duties of their job based on their faith opens the door to all sorts of potentially absurd new practices. There are many religions out there with many different beliefs, including some that are contrary to our state laws or policies. Are we now saying that a person’s individual, albeit sincerely-held, beliefs take precedence over the duties of their job? Can an EMT refuse to provide medical treatment to a member of the LGBT community because their lifestyle violates her religious beliefs? If a police officer, whose religion beliefs include the right of a man to discipline his wife, witnesses domestic abuse while on the job, can he choose not to arrest the husband? We’re heading down a very slippery slope with this bill.

But let’s think about this bill itself, which Stam claims is intended to defend religious freedom. The irony of this, of course, Read More

Commentary
Paul Stam 2

State Rep. Paul Stam

If you had any hopes that this year’s version of the North Carolina General Assembly would be less reactionary than the last two, these should have been quickly dashed in recent days by the announcement that the 2015 session will commence its substantive work next Wednesday with a “briefing” on a bill to sanction and promote discrimination against the state’s LGBT population.

The proposal comes, of course, from that irrepressible foe of tolerance and modernity, Rep. Paul Stam of Wake County — a man who has devoted the lion’s share of his years in elected office to advancing a narrow and backward-looking social agenda. Under this latest proposal, Stam would attempt to allow registers of deeds and magistrates to opt out of serving LGBT citizens seeking marriage licenses if doing so “would violate their core religious beliefs.” No word yet on whether Stam would allow similar treatment of officials with “religious” objections to interracial marriage.

Happily, there is a deep and growing wellspring of opposition to Stam’s sham. Chris Sgro of Equality NC does a fine job of explaining this opposition on the editorial page of this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. Here is an excerpt: Read More

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Paul Stam 2It’s funny how time usually seems to catch up to hate and bigotry (and the people who purvey them).  As society progresses and humans become more enlightened, language and viewpoints and images that once were widely held and expressed become less and less acceptable. Sometimes, the change happens rather suddenly — so suddenly that the proponents of the noxious views miss the memo and go right on spouting off until they suddenly become laughingstocks and pariahs for saying the same things they’ve been saying for years.

The current sports world controversy surrounding the use of the name “Redskins” by the Washington, DC NFL team is an example of how public mores can reach a tipping point and then change rapidly.

America witnessed countless such incidents in the late 20th Century around the issue of race and gender — usually in the form of clueless public figures saying embarrassingly stupid things about members of racial minorities or women. The pathetic thing about so many of these incidents. of course, was the befuddlement that gripped the clueless bigots. Frequently, they simply couldn’t fathom how their once-funny “jokes” or “common wisdom” observations had, all of a sudden, become offensive and unacceptable.

Let’s hope with all our hearts that we’re witnessing another such event take place right before our eyes in North Carolina with the latest noxious utterances from North Carolina’s longstanding champion of hatred and intolerance toward the LGBT community, State Rep. Paul Stam. Read More

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[UPDATED] Lest you have any doubts or fall for the bill of goods being peddled by the sponsors of the anti-choice legislation under consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly, listen to the words of House Majority Leader Paul Stam as he responded to a question from WRAL TV’s David Crabtree on this past weekend’s edition of “On the Record” — the relevant section (which appears below) took place about seven and half minutes into the program.

Here is the transcript:

Crabtree: Well if we cut to the chase, is this purely an attempt to limit abortions as severely as you can in North Carolina? And all the other things are just added to it “on the tree”?

Stam: Well it’s partly that but not certainly not mostly that.

Stam then goes on to provide a detailed description of the bill and the myriad ways it limits access to and the availability of abortion services.

In other words, one of the bill’s chief supporters — a powerful man who has long made no bones about the fact that oulawing abortion is one of his top priorities in public life — publicly admits that the at least one purpose of the controversial legislation is to “limit abortions as severely as you can in North Carolina.”

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