Happy Holidays & A Reflection on 2015

 

Best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season!

Best wishes for a safe & happy holiday season.

As this year winds down to a close, I want to take the opportunity to thank the citizens of Orange and Chatham counties for the opportunity to represent you in the North Carolina General Assembly. It is indeed an honor and privilege to serve.

It is also a time to reflect on the “long session” of 2015 (that lasted eight months) and share some of my concerns going forward into the new year.

After much debate and many long fights on the floor, the 2015-17 biennial budget was passed - 80 days late. It included a $750 one-time bonus for educators and state employees, but did not address North Carolina’s average teacher pay, which is 42nd in the nation. In addition, although the state ended the last fiscal year with over $400 million in surplus revenues, this budget does nothing to boost per pupil spending in schools, or provide salary increases for the state’s valued employees.  In order to prepare our students for college, career and citizenship, we must make the necessary investments in public education. Raising teacher pay to the national average is critical to keeping the best and brightest teachers here in our state to prepare our next generation of leaders.

North Carolina’s public universities are a huge economic engine for the state, but budget cuts to higher education continue. The UNC system’s budget was cut by $18 million at a time when we should be investing more in higher education.

While many states are moving toward tuition-free community college, the budget once again raises tuition fees. Since 2008, community college tuition has risen nearly 80 percent, making obtaining higher education more difficult for working families. We need to provide affordable education opportunities for all students.

 I remain concerned that the state has again refused to expand Medicaid, which could bring thousands of jobs to the state, and ensure healthcare for nearly 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians. Instead, the legislature passed HB 372, the Medicaid Modernization Act, with the idea to overhaul and better project Medicaid costs. The reform that resulted from the deliberations brings unnecessary complexity to an already complicated system, adds costs, requires more government oversight, and ultimately may cause more patients to fall through the cracks. The new system of managed care privatizes healthcare for the poor, elderly and disabled, and contains no patient protections for these vulnerable populations. What will be the incentive to ensure quality care from these out-of-state companies for the least among us? It is imperative that we provide healthcare solutions that work for all North Carolina families.

 There were also comprehensive attacks on environmental regulations, again taking away local control from cities and counties who have more stringent environmental protection laws, and forcing everyone under state control. The session also saw a last minute bill that bans local moratoriums on fracking in the state, which leaves major concerns for the safety of our air and drinking water, and again strips control away from the local cities and counties who want to protect their citizens from the adverse side effects of fracking.

The end of the 2015 session however, provided opportunities to return to the district and spend quality time with many of you.  I sincerely appreciate having the time to meet with you individually, with your organizations and your places of worship.  You help to inform my advocacy on your behalf, and I am encouraged by your engagement and involvement in the democratic process.

I particularly enjoy visiting classrooms in the district where our children are preparing to be future world leaders. Thanks to the Estes Hills Elementary School Fourth Grade for sharing your knowledge and your thoughts about government in North Carolina. I really enjoyed hearing your ideas on how we can make life better for the people, pets and property of North Carolina.

Likewise, thanks to students and staff at Virginia Cross Elementary School in Siler City for a wonderful visit. I will remember the tenets of the Seven Habits Tree: Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think win-win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the saw.

Best wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday season to all.

 

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published this page in Blog 2015-12-19 20:01:52 -0500
published this page in Blog 2015-12-19 19:56:08 -0500
State Senator Valerie Foushee posted about Holiday Greetings & A Reflection on 2015 on State Senator Valerie Foushee's Facebook page 2015-12-19 19:55:49 -0500
Best wishes for a safe & joyous holiday season.

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