Legislative Update: 8-10-15

Summer is wrapping up, and with it so is the long-session here in the General Assembly. But session isn’t over yet, and with the delays of budget negotiations continuing so late into summer, schools districts are beginning to feel more than just the heat outside – they are forced to finalize their individual budgets for the year, making final hiring and firing decisions, without any assurance from the state on what will and will not be funded.

With less than two weeks remaining until school starts, school districts are starting to hand out pink slips to Teacher Assistants because the  Senate budget calls for a cut of 8500 TA positions across the state – the largest layoff in North Carolina history. And though this cut is not yet finalized, budget negotiations are proceeding so slowly that our school districts are making decisions based on assumptions, as they finalize staffing for the year.

Meanwhile, GOP leadership has continued to focus on divisive social legislation. In the wake of the Charleston massacre, Republican leadership in the House found it timely to dig up a bill focused on museum artifacts and state monuments – a bill that, given the context of the shooting, became quite divisive and a symbol of protecting the confederate monuments of the state – and forced it through a final vote, after sitting on it for months.

In addition, we continue to see Senate leadership pushing for a controversial new tax plan, one that pits urban counties against rural, rather than taking on the responsibility of finding a better solution, one that works for all of North Carolina.

While June brought with it the standard divisive social legislation – abortion restrictions and a veto override to enact into law discriminatory legislation that will adversely affect LGBT couples in the state, July has brought with it a lack of compassion as I have never seen before. Instead of uniting and solving problems for our state, the General Assembly leadership is sparring within itself and the governor, and focusing on legislation that does nothing but exacerbate racial and economic divides.

It is my hope that in final negotiations, the House will prevail, and we will not leave all of our Teaching Assistants behind in the budget. It is my hope that we can continue to invest in public education, and not put the largest tax burdens on the back of our middle class families and workers. I hope that leadership can open their eyes and find a bit of compassion – something that has been lacking this session more than ever before – and I hope that we can do it soon, because our teachers, our students, and our communities can’t wait much longer. 

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