From My Seat on Jones Street - Feb 2015


The 2015 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly is fully

underway. Opening Day has come and gone; leadership has been selected; committee assignments have been made. Legislators are busy filing bills, and lobbyists and constituents fill the halls of the legislative complex advocating for their interests. Governor McCrory has given the State of the State address, and we’ve heard responses to the same.

The general theme of the Governor’s message was about our state’s resilience and the strength of our people and institutions. He touted a lowered unemployment rate, our ability to pull together during a crisis, and how tax reform “is putting more money in people’s paychecks.” And while it was comforting to hear his vision for transportation and infrastructure, job recruitment, and public safety; a stronger, clearer vision must be articulated for education and access to healthcare.

The cheers of a “Carolina Comeback” ring hollow at a time when many North Carolinians continue to struggle to make ends meet, earn a living wage, and plan a future of promise for their children. For many middle class families, economic recovery remains elusive and many small businesses are finding it difficult to stay afloat. Education funding and access to healthcare will again be at the forefront of budget discussions that begin in earnest this week. Now lawmakers must move from rhetoric to work. We must devise and implement a budget that speaks to the real needs of all North Carolinians.

It should matter to all of us that twenty-nine percent of our public schools received failing grades under the new scoring system that purports to measure growth and achievement. At first glance, it certainly appears that the schools that received failing grades were those schools with fewer resources and a higher number of economically challenged families. The budget that passes for the next biennium must make the necessary investments to ensure that all of our students have a chance to succeed and have the necessary skills to compete after graduation. It must provide meaningful salaries for all teachers in order to recruit and retain the best and brightest. Textbooks and adequate school facilities are just as, if not more important than broken water fountains and buildings used for storage. We can and we must do better.

I was pleased to hear Governor McCrory share his vision for healthcare reform. And while he did not suggest the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, he did in fact outline a plan that should be seriously considered. The plan as describe will help to provide access to affordable

healthcare for many in our state who currently are not able to meet their needs. The “Healthy NC” plan is a physician-led plan that “controls costs for taxpayers and incentivizes healthcare providers to coordinate care.” I look forward to meaningful discussions that I hope will result in a plan that will ensure the health of our state by providing access to the “least of these.”

The General Assembly is made up of 170 members. Each of us made commitments to our constituents, generally, to do our best to represent your interests. And in the words of the poet Robert Frost, “we have promises to keep. And miles to go before we sleep.”

Please continue to contact my office to share your concerns on issues or if my office can be of any assistance to you. Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Raleigh.


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