The Week in Raleigh
Another week in Raleigh brought more folks from the district to our office. It’s always a special pleasure to have Buncombe visitors and these were our young social workers-in-training (NASW-NC) in colleges around WNC. Pure joy! Here are a couple of photos from the Warren Wilson groups. We also had some from Mars Hill. The students were well-prepped with questions and statistics. We discussed policy priorities including protections for minors, improving dropout rates, impacting academic results and working for Medicaid expansion during Social Work Advocacy Day! Two of the groups I visited with:
|Representing the National Association of Social Workers-NC from Warren Wilson College are: (left photo l-r) Grace Gilliam, Evan Herrin, Carl Schwartz and Zoe Renner. Right: (l-r) Abby Raiside, Sawyer Bryan, Miguel Hernandez, Armania Hidalgo and Professor Sarah Himmelelheber.|
|House Democrats Introduce Bill to Ratify Equal Rights for WomenThe U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equal rights for women. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would change that. It would guarantee that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”|
This week I joined with all 55 of my House Democratic colleagues to sponsor HB 271, a bill to ratify the ERA. If HB 271 becomes law, North Carolina will become the 38th state to ratify the amendment. Thirty-eight is a significant number because an amendment must be ratified by 38 of the 50 states (or ¾ of all the states) to go into effect – although because the original Congressional deadline to ratify the ERA has passed, we still need Congress to act to extend the deadline. It is important to ratify the ERA because there will never be equal rights in this country until all laws apply to American citizens regardless of their gender. Families and individuals need non-discrimination in hiring, wages, and working environments.
Equal pay for women? State lawmakers file ERA bills todayWinston-Salem JournalWhat Is the Equal Rights Amendment, and Why Are We Talking About It Now?NY Times
|Gov. Cooper Proposes State Budget, Education Bond, and Medicaid Expansion|
Typically, the most important piece of legislation in the session is the State Budget. The State Budget bill raises and spends billions of dollars and often includes many important changes in law or policy. The traditional kick-off to the budget process is the Governor’s release of his proposed budget. This year the Governor’s budget is particularly important because the General Assembly is more closely divided between Republicans and Democrats so it will be more difficult for Republican leaders to pass a budget over his objections – as has happened the last two years. This week Governor Cooper released his budget. It has three big parts:· A teacher pay raise to get NC to the top in the Southeast in teacher pay;· A strong school bond to build and renovate schools;· Medicaid expansion to close the health care coverage gap and create health care jobs. Below are some of the details.
*Better Pay for Educators
The governor’s plan puts North Carolina on a path to become best in the Southeast in teacher pay in four years. Teachers would see an average pay raise of 9.1% over two years with no teacher receiving less than a 3% raise in either year. The plan eliminates salary plateaus for veteran teachers, allowing teachers with up to 30 years of service to earn more for each year of service. Under the current teacher pay plan enacted by legislators, teachers who keep working beyond 15 years receive only one pay raise of $2,000 after their 24th year of service. In addition, Gov. Cooper proposes restoring extra pay for teachers who hold a master’s degree in the subject they teach and eliminating the requirement that teachers pay for their own substitutes when they take a personal leave day.
|Click here to see Gov. Cooper’s proposed teacher pay schedule.His plan also provides experience-based raises for school principals. Principals would earn more based on both experience as a principal and the size of the student body they lead. The plan also restores salary supplements for principals who hold advanced degrees. Click here to see Gov. Cooper’s proposed principal pay schedule.|
|Invest NC Bond|
To invest in better schools from kindergarten through college as well as to improve other critical infrastructure, Gov. Cooper proposes putting a bond worth $3.9 billion to a vote of the people. The proposal would include $3.1 billion for education efforts, including $2 billion for K-12 public schools statewide, $500 million each for facility improvements at community colleges and University of North Carolina System institutions, and $100 million in the NC History Museum and the NC Zoo. Also included in the bond proposal would be $800 million to invest in clean water through local water and sewer projects. A bond is a fiscally responsible option for making these investments, offering stability for school districts, colleges and universities, and local governments planning their budgets. It also allows the people of North Carolina the chance to voice their opinion on making these public investments.
Click here for a Fact Sheet on Gov. Cooper’s Invest NC Bond Proposal.Click here to see how North Carolina public schools could benefit from the Invest NC bond.Click here to see how UNC System Schools could benefit from the Invest NC bond.Click here to see how North Carolina Community Colleges could benefit from the Invest NC bond.
|Thank you for your continued interest in state government. I hope you will contact me if I can be of help. Keep in touch,|