Grandma is hungry

figure-11.pngAt a time when lawmakers in Washington are debating slashing Medicare funding, a report out this week shows the share of seniors living in poverty in North Carolina is much higher than originally realized. Statewide, more than 15 percent of residents 65 and older live below the poverty line when calculated under the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measurement, according to the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Previously, senior poverty was thought to be at 10 percent in North Carolina.

Nationwide, the share of seniors living in poverty is higher than the official poverty measure in every state. Under the supplemental poverty measure, which deducts health spending from income, poverty rates could increase if beneficiaries were required to pay higher cost sharing or premiums for Medicare.

As Congress debates various methods to reduce federal spending, it is important to keep in mind that Medicare and Social Security, in their current forms, are two of the most successful anti-poverty programs ever developed in this country. As lawmakers look to alter that model, the outcomes could be disastrous.

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Senate budget to hurt poor, middle class

Action NC statement on Senate budget proposal:

With drastic cuts to education and health services, coupled with short-sighted environmental and governmental deregulation, it is now clear that the Republican-led Senate is set on following the lead of their colleagues in the House and the Governor’s office in abandoning their collective obligation to do what is best for all the people of North Carolina.

This budget will reduce available revenues by more than $200 million this year alone, expanding to more than $700 million over the two years, all at the expense of low and moderate income North Carolinians for the express benefit of high-income individuals and corporations. These cuts deeply impact our Medicaid system, which will be forced to increase costs to patients, reduce reimbursements to providers, and our public education system, which will decrease our already measly per-pupil spending and force larger class sizes with less classroom resources.

In a time of continued economic hardship for so many in North Carolina, we can ill afford these deep and foolish cuts to our public investments. It is fiscally irresponsible for the Senate to make such a proposal, and we oppose it.

So, we agree: vouchers stink

stink.jpgMore than 60 percent of North Carolina voters oppose a school voucher plan currently under consideration at the General Assembly. How do we know? We asked you. And you. And you.

Actually, we didn't, but the awesome folks over at Public Policy Polling did. 

You know the background by now: the bill currently under consideration in the North Carolina General Assembly would take $90 million from the public school budget and spend it on a school voucher program. The bill would give some low-income students grants of up to $4,200 to pay for private school tuition, far less than is necessary to actually afford a private school.

But this new poll clearly shows that when lawmakers say that the public is with them on school vouchers, they are just blowing hot air. Nearly two-thirds of North Carolinians have demonstrated their strong opposition to this insidious disinvestment in our public education system, and now the only question is whether or not lawmakers will heed their warning.

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Pee-ed off

pee-in-cup-.jpgYesterday, the North Carolina Senate has passed a bill requiring applicants of the welfare program known as WorkFirst  to first pay for, and then pass, a drug test before enrolling in the program. Needless to say, more than a few of our friends were pretty pee-ed off this morning.

This state gives money to many groups of people, including our elected officials and corporate executives who receive millions in tax credits and government contracts. It’s disgusting (not to mention illegal!) to see lawmakers single out just one group for extra scrutiny. This group happens to be the state’s poorest families who have the least power or influence to abuse the government system.

On top of that, there seems to be no need for the law. The state’s own estimates show that the drug test program may not save a dime and could cost more than $2 million per year. This is a ridiculous cost for a political stunt. Well, one good political stunt deserves another. 

This bill is not law yet. With your help, we can send a strong message to our lawmakers. You can send a pee cup to your State Senator with a small $8 donation to Action NC.

We will tell NC General Assembly that if they are going to require drug tests for North Carolina residents, then they should pee first.

Come on - you know you're pee-ed off! Tell your legislators that unless they are willing to pee first, no one should have to do it.


Not much opportunity

publicprivate.jpgWe really would like to have been wrong about this one.

Just as we said, the House introduced HB 944, or the ironically named "Opportunity Scholarship program" last night. This barely-disguised voucher bill draws the battle lines between those who believe in the future of public education, and those who want a private, for-profit version of education, are clearly drawn.  The private and religious schools eligible to receive the more than $90 million in public funds under this voucher scheme are allowed to discriminate on a variety of grounds, and the direct result will be in public money going directly to private institutions.

The total bill for this plan will be in excess of $90 million dollars over the next two years, all in public money that would be channeled to private schools. With a public school system that has been weakened by repeated budget cuts over the past decade, our schools can scarcely afford this direct assault.

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