Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate. Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage.
In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.
The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.
The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.
At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools. Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly, it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 prekindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled children are being chopped.
“We are losing ground,” Superintendent June Atkinson said recently, warning of a teacher exodus after lawmakers proposed ending extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees, cutting teacher assistants and removing limits on class sizes.
Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination. They have refused to expand Medicaid and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.
And, naturally, the Legislature is rushing to impose voter ID requirements and cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, which have been popular among Democratic voters. One particularly transparent move would end a tax deduction for dependents if students vote at college instead of their hometowns, a blatant effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns like Chapel Hill and Durham.
North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.
The Decline of North Carolina (NYT editorial)
Posted 10 July 2013 - 01:35 PM
Posted 10 July 2013 - 01:46 PM
I'm not surprised. When I knew McCrory won I knew he was going to run this state to the ground, but never thought it would be this fast and this bad. We're reverting back to a dumb hillbilly state with no ambition I guess, after we were making some strides.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 01:57 PM
At least the Panthers location would make more sense.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:04 PM
Sadly, I voted for McCrory. I hoped the switch up would bring something promising/more jobs, but obviously I didn't know enough about him.
Sad times with the turn this state has taken lately.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:09 PM
I voted for McCrory too.
Fortunately, I think McCrory is pretty much just puddy with no backbone. With enough blow back, he'll move back to a more moderate position. He has taken the first step with the threat to veto the abortion bill.
Still won't be voting for him in the next election though. The mid-term elections could be pretty brutal for republicans. A continued influx of people from the Northeast and young professionals are still flocking to Charlotte and the Triangle.
Republican control in this state is limited. Not by decades, but by years.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:17 PM
I did too and would like to take this chance to apologize.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:17 PM
Not sure, the unemployment changes in this economy was the first terrible thing he did, and blow-back hasn't done anything to that unfortunately. We're in for a long ride it looks like.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:19 PM
I couldn't be more disgusted with this current batch of legislators.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:23 PM
Upsetting the New York Times editorial staff because we are no longer progressive enough for their tastes tickles me to no end.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:28 PM
Don't believe all the crap the liberal press has been putting out, even well in advance of McCrory taking office. Spending money is easy, cutting it not so easy. Don't think anyone getting goodies will go quietly if they are threatened.
That is why the Fed Gov is out of control. Each cut gets screams of horror. It will be okay, just watch. Course, NC is not paying enough attention, thus the NYT's getting involved. Par for the course.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:32 PM
And let's not be naive here. After so many years of one party the almost goofy expected response was to go against the grain of that.
With the exception of tiny states like Vermont or less populated states you just aren't going to be able to make everybody happy. That's reason enough I would never run for office. People don't want leaders they want their person to do what they want.
At the moment I give this crew in the capitol a C-.
Posted 10 July 2013 - 02:33 PM
When the hard core conservatives on this board love him.... it ain't great news.