Best News First!!
For the first time ever, North Carolina Democrats are running in every single state legislative district! That’s 170 seats with none unchallenged!
Now the real work begins! Time to start getting organized and GOTV!
We are also happy to announce that our Annual Precinct Organizational Meetings saw strong attendance and enthusiasm for the work to be done in 2018! Your precinct is a great place to get started with volunteering and organizing. You can learn more about your Precinct, including contacting Officers, via the new “Find My Precinct’ option at www.wakedems.org .
It Is Already Starting
Last year, we followed the twists and turns of the State Budget process and lamented the negative impact these recent tax cuts have had on many of our Wake County citizens while not providing the economic boost promised by the GOP. We warned that NC could become the next Kansas - slowing economic growth and increasing budget shortfalls. Unfortunately, it looks like our fears were founded.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities blog this week is titled “North Carolina’s Tax Cuts Haven’t Caused Economy to Surge”. It highlights the failure of the GOP’s economic strategies in the state and warns that NC is facing a budget shortfall of $1.2 billion in 2020, rising to $1.4 billion by 2022. The article explains how the tax cuts have not only cut our revenue by $3.5 billion annually, but have also widened the racial economic divide, with minority citizens paying a larger share of the state’s tax revenue. We are seeing slowing economic growth in NC - in just three years, we have gone from growing faster than the national economy to lagging behind other states in the Southeast. Three years!
With this slowdown in revenue and growth, look for the GOP legislature to start threatening the social safety net even more, including demands for more cuts to education at all levels. This is an economic crisis of the Republican’s making. Unless change happens quickly, NC is heading down the same path as states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, where this failed experiment at supply-side tax cuts have lead to disastrous results.
Another Tear in the Social Safety Net
Slowing economic growth means we can expect to begin seeing rising unemployment numbers in Wake County and across the state. As we learned last month, Republican’s draconian policies towards unemployment benefits under former Governor McCrory mean that those who will need the most help in a worsening economy will not find much in the way of aid.
In February, The Urban Institute, an economic think tank focused on social and economic policy, presented its findings from a study of the state’s unemployment program to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance. They reported that NC has gone from a $2 billion deficit in the fund to a $3.1 billion surplus. However, this was not achieved by economic growth, but by “a radical reduction in the generosity of your program to the claimants,”
- NC now only provides 9.3 weeks of benefits, down from 16.2 in 2016,
NC has the second shortest benefits period in the country, where the average is 14.7 weeks,
The national average for weekly benefits is $332,
In NC, the average is $247.
As was to be expected, the GOP sees no problem. As one Republican Representative responded, “I think where we are is a good thing. What is the point of your presentation?”.
A National Disgrace with Local Impacts
Our updates focus on Wake County and the NCGA, in general. However, we are watching with concern as HR 620 works its way through Congress, as it will impact our citizens here. As per GOP standards, the bill has an innocuous name - ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. However, its true purpose is to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the ACLU’s response to the Act states, “The ‘ADA Education and Reform Act’ upends a key provision of the ADA by preventing people with disabilities from immediately going to court to enforce their rights and to press for timely removal of the barrier that impedes access. Without this critical enforcement mechanism, compliance under the ADA will suffer and people with disabilities will be denied the access to which they are entitled to under the law.”.
This will have a significant impact to our state, where we know from the latest statistics that 16% (1.24 million) of North Carolinians have at least one disability. We will continue to monitor the Bill’s progress.