From Newport to New Bern, Raleigh to Fayetteville, North Carolina holds a special place in my heart.
I spent part of my formative teenage years at the Governor’s School of North Carolina in Winston-Salem discovering my love of acting, learning to volunteer in my community and finding out it is okay to be smart.
Now, my heart is breaking.
North Carolina’s state motto is “Esse quam videri,” which means “To be, rather than to seem.” Where other southern states have tried, and failed, North Carolina has for decades made tremendous strides to be a progressive beacon on social, environmental and educational issues.
Now, and for the first time since deconstruction, Republicans control both houses of the legislature along with the governor’s mansion. Since January, they have increasingly displayed an agenda that reads like it is lifted from the Republican National Committee playbook.
Don’t believe me? Here are 10 ways North Carolina is destroying decades of progress:
1. Gutting Education
North Carolina has always understood the importance of education, from early childhood through college.
However, current Senate budget proposals include reducing the funding for early childhood spending by 60 percent and reducing or eliminating programs that focus on recruiting and training high quality teachers, increasing teacher aides in classrooms, reducing class sizes and those programs that made teacher salaries some of the most competitive in the region.
North Carolina now ranks 46th in per-capita education spending and only outranks West Virginia and Mississippi in teacher spending.
2. Less Investment in Children’s Health
Until this year, a state task force focusing on policies that improve childhood health and safety, as well expanding Medicaid to allow more women and children to qualify for medical care, has managed to cut infant and child death rate almost 50 per cent.
The state has in the past also subsidized early intervention programs for children with disabilities, providing developmental and speech therapy.
Now, proposals will eliminate the task force, remove thousands of women from Medicaid, and cut more than $10 million dollars from the disabled children programs.
3. Slowing Rural Economic Development
Since 1984, several programs have focused on the economic development of rural communities and other business development initiatives.
Current proposals would severely reduce or eliminate the almost $700 million dollars in grants that were used for these programs.
4. Raising Taxes on the Poor and Middle Class
This year, Governor McCrory signed a bill to repeal the earned income tax credit that gave over 900,000 low income workers a rebate on their taxes.
As part of their voter omnibus bill, the legislature desires to eliminate the dependent tax credit for parents with college students who vote in their college town instead of their hometown.
They also plan to eliminate the progressive tax system that has been in place since 1921, which has helped fund North Carolina’s roads and world class universities.
Proposals to replace this include a flat tax and increases in sales tax, which would further hurt the poor and middle class.
Next page: North Carolina’s war on women, benefits, the environment and more.
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