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Low-income children now represent a majority of students enrolled in public schools in the South, a new report by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) finds. The 2009-10 school year marked the first time in modern history that a majority of students in public schools in the South were low-income students, defined as the number of students participating in the federal free- and reduced-lunch program. As public schools in North Carolina and other southern states are challenged with educating more low-income students – who typically need extra learning support and resources to succeed – education spending has failed to reflect this growing need and challenge. Read More

It appears that North Carolina is the only state to stop processing applications for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, formerly known as welfare, due to the federal government shutdown. This news comes just days after the Governor’s Administration was the only one in the nation to turn away low-income mothers and infants from food assistance via the WIC program. Fortunately, state officials quickly reversed course last week and accepted federal contingency funding to keep WIC assistance for hungry families.

In a new editorial, the Charlotte Observer rightly points out that it is “unnecessary” for the Governor’s administration to push the stop button on applications because North Carolina can float the money, continue assistance and services, and then request reimbursement by the federal government thereafter:

“Last month, the U.S. Health and Human Services Family Assistance Office wrote a pre-shutdown letter to states, promising to reimburse money states had to spend to cover federal TANF benefits. That’s probably why so few states have yet to talk about shutting down their TANF programs. Read More

The ongoing shutdown is a nightmare for low-income Americans who, time after time, are the hardest hit when politicians hold the economy hostage for political gain. Vulnerable populations, including many North Carolinians, were already dealing with deep across-the-board sequestration cuts to social programs in March. Now, due to the absence of responsible behavior by the House of Representatives, the shutdown is adding another layer of economic pain to struggling families trying to make ends meet and gain a foothold on the economic ladder. The U.S. House needs to pass a spending plan for 2014, without obligations.

You don’t have to look far to see the devastation that the shutdown—now in its 10th day—is causing among North Carolinians. Read More

Poverty continues to impact 1 in 5 North Carolinians, according to 2012 Census Bureau Data released last week. The extent of poverty would be far greater without the safety net and work supports, however. This post is part of a blog series that will explain how the new poverty data demonstrates the important role public programs play and the need for continued support.

Widespread poverty and stagnant living standards have become the status quo in North Carolina, according to the Budget and Tax Center’s analysis of Census data released last week. 2012 marked yet another year of the official economic recovery whereby the gains of economic growth passed over low- and moderate-income North Carolinians. High rates of hardship are persisting because of the state’s ongoing job shortage and the rapid acceleration of low-wage work that fails to provide a pathway to the middle class.

There is some good news in the Census data, however. The poverty rate would have been much worse if public policies weren’t in place to provide a necessary safety net. Read More

In a case of spectacularly bad timing, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to increase hunger among our state’s most vulnerable residents on the very same day that new reports from the Census Bureau revealed that poverty is on the rise in North Carolina. Despite the fact that one-in-five North Carolinians live in poverty, the House is taking up a hugely controversial package that wipes out critical food assistance for more than a million North Carolina families.

This extreme and harsh measure cuts a staggering $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—formerly known as food stamps, a program which has lifted 4 million out of poverty last year alone and is considered one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty tools.  The cuts are twice the amount originally proposed by the House earlier this year and ten times more than those adopted by a strong bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate.

If the legislation becomes law, it will take away food assistance for as many as four million poor Americans, including 1.7 million North Carolinians.  Independent budget analysts have confirmed the proposal is so extreme it would take away food assistance for children, seniors and veterans.

But there’s still time for the House to change course, reject this punitive measure, and ensure that 4 million people won’t go hungry. Visit this link if you want to to urge your Congressional representatives to vote against this immoral proposal.