Legislative Update: While we lose out on jobs, GOP focused on social issues

If you have been following the news at all lately, you will know already that North Carolina was just passed over by Volvo for a new auto manufacturing plant. Instead, the $500 million auto plant, and all of the jobs that come with it, will go to our neighbor South Carolina. Volvo joins a long list of companies including Boeing and Mercedes-Benz that have now passed over our great state. While the country continues to emerge from the great recession, North Carolina continues to lose out on so many of the great opportunities to bring good, high paying jobs to this state. 

Rather than focusing on the issues that matter most to North Carolinians, such as working on a toolbox of incentives that will make North Carolina appealing for auto manufacturers such as Volvo, Republican leadership in the state continue to prioritize divisive social legislation. Just two weeks ago, as Volvo’s announcement was still fresh in the news, the NC Senate took up legislation to increase the waiting period for a safe and legal abortion from 24 to 72 hours, a delay that has absolutely no medical purpose, and is another attempt by politicians to get between a woman and her personal healthcare decisions.

In addition to legislating new restrictions on abortion, the Senate last week overrode the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2, allowing magistrates to recuse themselves from civil ceremonies based on religious beliefs. This bill is a discriminatory piece of legislation that will adversely affect the LGBT community in this state, and is yet another example of the leadership in this state focusing on the wrong priorities for North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue to draft their version of the budget behind closed doors, promising drastically lower spending than the House version. With little details available on what is on the table, I can only hope that this budget will prioritize the things most important to this state – education and the economy. With Volvo passing over North Carolina, we must figure out how to do better as a state to attract business – and not just through responsible incentives programs, but by investing in the world class education system that we have long been known for. We must improve our K-12 system, invest in pre-K so that all children have the opportunity for success, and we must ensure that our teachers and our students have the resources they need in the classroom. Currently North Carolina is last in the Southeast and 46th in the nation in per pupil spending, and 42nd in the nation in teacher pay. If we continue to fail our schools, we will continue to fail at recruiting high paying jobs to this state.

In the coming weeks, we will see the Senate budget, and begin negotiations with the House to come together with a final spending plan for the next two years. As this process unfolds, I know that my Senate Democratic colleagues and I will continue to fight for the funding necessary for our education system, from pre-K through the University system, including our community colleges. Without strong and dedicated teachers, our children will not be competitive in the global economy, and our state will not be competitive in attracting the jobs that we need to thrive.

I hope you will follow along as we continue to fight for the people of this great state, and I encourage you to make your voice heard as this process unfolds.

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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