LETTERS / Legislative Session Budget Priorities

Published Monday, June 27, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Governor McCrory and Representative Jordan,

As a resident of Boone, I have no State Senator since Dan Soucek resigned; so I feel underrepresented at a crucial time.

HB#2  I find it hard to believe that our legislature insists on continuing to cost our state business and good will.  It shouldn’t be difficult to draft legislation that repeals what is now an official position: discrimination is now the official policy of North Carolina.  Apparently the majority of our current legislature believes LGBTQ citizens can be fired because of their sexual orientation without recourse to State courts.  Federal courts are prohibitively expensive and much less accessible.

Other provisions of the rushed legislation are equally onerous: voiding local ordinances that would require government contractors to pay a living wage and barring local governments from passing anti-discrimination measures should be obviously changed.

EDUCATION  Our schools have been underfunded for too many years.  Why does the legislature want to starve the schools when the State is no longer in recession–well, we’d be doing better if so many businesses hadn’t backed out on holding conventions here and engaging with our state–a time when we could be providing incentives to teachers instead of proposing to end the health insurance retirement benefit?  Teachers are in such straits that they have taken to marching to the Capitol and been completely ignored by our Governor.  Minimal funding and a core lack of respect will push North Carolina students farther away from achieving their goals and ours.

HEALTH CARE  Despite professing to care about our citizens’ health, and talking about women’s health, the legislature and the Governor continue to ignore those in the “health insurance gap,” making too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford individual insurance plans.  Fifty-three percent of those citizens are women.  In our state, more than one in five women aged 18 to 64 lacks health insurance.  Political posturing against Planned Parenthood and failing to accept Federal dollars to help the poor get healthcare outside of emergency rooms add up to needless suffering for the citizens here.

WATER QUALITY  Our legislators have demonstrated little regard for the importance of protecting our watershed and natural areas in production and support of HB 593.  Water quality is not a partisan issue.  There is absolutely no reason a Republican-led government could not stand strong for our water supply.  The current legislation would limit the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s ability to implement stormwater management policies and would relax standards associated with wetland and stream mitigation, allowing companies to leave us with dirtier water and the bills for eventual cleanup.  Our beaches would also be affected because the bill eliminates requirements to conduct a compatibility assessment when using beach nourishment.  North Carolina’s coastline is a critical part of the tourism industry.  I find it hard to believe that our legislators would be so short-sighted.

SUSTAINABILITY  Legislation to thwart expansion of wind and solar energy must also be voted down.  The science is clear and we need to support sustainable energy instead of propping up fossil fuels.

Please produce a budget and legislation that work toward the good of North Carolinians.

Sincerely,

Janet Palmer

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