Monthly Archives: May 2014

Moral Monday on May 19th – Be There or Be Square!

First Moral Monday in Raleigh is Monday, May 19 at Halifax Mall.  So much to cover – teachers are leaving NC in droves!  NC’s budget was designed to fail – and is failing spectacularly ($445 in the hole by June 30, 2014 plus more)!  The leadership of the NCGA just changed the rules of building and meeting access – rules that have been in place SINCE 1987!  Be part of our forward together movement!

Really sums up the mess NC made with teachers in 2013

Really sums up the mess the current administration (governor and lawmakers) have made of North Carolina. And the truth about why teachers are fleeing NC in droves.

The first paragraph says a lot. “If there is any doubt that Koch inspired Republican policies would be a disaster for America, one need only look to North Carolina, where you can see the results of these policies in real time. Gutting the social safety net didn’t make jobs magically appear. It just meant that more people would be struggling to survive.”

NC’s tax reform is flushing families, 4/16/14

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. Did you guys see Art Pope’s article from 4/16? “NC tax reform and flusher families” at I completely disagree with most of his claims. My title would be “NC’s tax overhaul is flushing families!”. NC Budget and Tax Center has the truth about the new tax code.

In the article, Pope is claiming “Our tax code is now simpler, more uniform and fairer for everyone.” But NC Budget and Tax Center (BTC) calculations must be looking at a different population sample in concentrating on low and middle wage earners. BTC calculates that low income workers are paying about 9.5% of their income as taxes. Rich people (making over $345,000), are paying about 5.5%. This means low wage workers will pay more of their income out as taxes and start paying taxes on less income.

Under the old tax code, a family of four would begin paying income tax after $23,400. Under the new tax code passed in 2013, that same family begins paying income tax after $19,400. A little bit of money goes a long way when a person or a family is barely getting by (at or below poverty level).

Pope complains that “legislative Republicans have been criticized for essentially raising taxes by ending the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.” As well they should be! The EITC helped almost a million low income families this year. Although the state EITC is small, that money goes back to the local economy, unlike extra money saved by the wealthy.

I remember February 2013 when the NC House approved elimination of the EITC the day before a committee discussed abolishing the inheritance tax on the superrich (only affects estates over $5.25 million)! The inheritance tax brought in over $50 million a year, which could have supported the EITC for 450,000 tax payers, according to Democracy NC’s 2013 legislative report card. NC is the ONLY state to repeal the EITC in 30 years. And the state that had repealed it reinstated it soon after.

Pope wrote, “everyone in North Carolina is benefiting from the tax reforms.” However, the NC Budget and Tax Center estimates that the tax changes made in 2013 amount to a tax shift in which the bottom 80% of taxpayers will pay more on average. The bottom 95% of senior taxpayers will pay more as well. Did you know that pensions will be taxed starting 2014? And the tax changes eliminated personal and senior exemptions too.

NC needs to pursue real tax reform in a way that strengthens our economy, instead of holding it back. It’s time to reinstate the state Earned Income Tax Credit and reclaim some of the $1.4 billion in tax cuts McCrory and legislative leaders gave to wealthy people and profitable corporations and use it for our hardworking teachers (mostly women), schools, and displaced homemaker programs, among other things.

State lawmakers could fix the devastating tax changes they made last year during the Short Session, which begins in May.

-Gailya Paliga
President, NC National Organization for Women


Got a really ironic response to my letter and call on the blocking of the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker for the long standing vacancy in the Eastern District of NC by Senator Burr. As you may remember, Sen. Burr recommended … Continue reading

Burr holding up confirmation process on judge he recommended, letter to N&O

Mar 30, 2014
NC Senator Richard Burr is blocking the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker as U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The position has been vacant since Dec. 2005, over eight years.

Newsweek Magazine reported “the Eastern District of North Carolina is officially classified as a ‘judicial emergency.’” And also “It takes years for cases to move through the court, where a vacant seat on the bench has created one of the worst case backlogs in the country. The court’s open seat has gone unfilled for eight years, the longest district court vacancy in the country.”

May-Parker is very qualified and in fact, Sen. Burr had recommended her in July 2009, when he said she had “the requisite qualifications to serve with distinction.” May-Parker was originally nominated on June 20, 2013.

Is he blocking her because she’s a woman? Because she’s a minority? As a political game? Sen. Burr refuses to say.

Meanwhile NC needs a qualified judge into this important court. Please contact Sen. Burr and tell him he needs to stop playing games and sign off on May-Parker.

-Gailya Paliga
President, NC National Organization for Women

Submitted March 30, 2014

Women remember what happened in 2013!

It is hard to comprehend how much damage NC’s Conservative lawmakers did during the 2013 legislative session. The war on women may not have been what the NC General Assembly (NCGA) intended, but a war on women has been waged! The NCGA has dismantled much of women’s rights progress of the last 50 years! Women are especially hurt by 1) new laws 2) tax changes 3) new budget. We talked about the budget, which turns out to be MUCH WORSE than even the NCGA expected, with a $445 million shortfall by June 30, 2014. Read more in Mary’s article, “Show Me The Money,” last post.**Huge economic losses**
Biggest bad economic decisions (before the budget) were made early (Feb/Mar 2013). Federal programs were cut without regard to NC citizens. By March, the 2 most economically devastating bills were signed into law. 1) refusal to expand Medicaid 2) refusing federal emergency unemployment benefit and slashing benefits for the newly unemployed. These are both particularly hard on women.* Refusing to expand Medicaid hurts women on all fronts. Many of the 500,000 NC residents that won’t be covered are women earning low income. Many of the 18,000-25,000 jobs that Medicaid expansion would have brought would go to women in the health care field. The money from having health care coverage, and more jobs would have bolstered economies across NC. Instead, the working poor can’t afford health care, NC lost out $2 BILLION in 2013 alone (Washington Post), and NC lost out on tens of thousands of new jobs. In addition, rural clinics and hospitals are under extreme financial strain and may close.

* Unemployment Insurance – $700 million in federal money was rejected. Plus, they slashed unemployment benefits by fully one-third. But there was a further zinger for women – they eliminated a family hardship provision that directly affects caregivers – most are women.

* Expect more domestic violence in very stressed areas, like the 4 struggling counties most affected by the House Of Raeford turkey plant closings in 2013. They got the full effects of slashed benefits – less money, much shorter coverage periods, and emergency federal unemployment insurance blocked by the new law.

** Monster Voter Suppression Law**
Everyone knows the monster voter suppression law hurts minors, seniors and the elderly. But a 2013 study revealed surprising statistics on who the voter id portion would hurt the most– women! The study was based on comparing voter registration with DMV/ID data in the system in 2013. The study shows that women make up 64% of active registered voters without an acceptable NC Photo id under the new definition. By comparison-22% of active registered voters are African Americans but they are 31% of the active registered voters who do not have a NC photo ID. Report at

Women from students to the elderly will be prevented from voting. Women can’t vote bad lawmakers out and get good ones in if we won’t have the exclusive ID they require for us to do so. And besides voter id changes, many local boards, now run by ‘conservatives’, moved polling sites far away from students. This fight on moving polling sites away from universities was best demonstrated in Watauga County/Boone—

Minorities can sue – thank goodness. Yet women have no standing, no guaranteed rights in the constitution. The need for an Equal Rights Amendment for women is very clear.

Women are pushing back. Four joint resolutions bills were introduced into the US Senate and House supporting the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee women are written into the constitution so that no state administration can get away with making laws that discriminate against women or take away our rights.

**Painful Tax Plan and Budget Undermines Women’s Ability to Survive, Much Less Prosper **
NC’s new tax plan causes a deep loss of revenue ($445 million by June 30, 2014 per our article on page 1 and many Budget and Tax Center and NC Policy Watch articles). The tax plan further shifts the burden to middle and low income earners– the wealthy and corporations get huge tax cuts. NC can’t keep up with the needs of women, their children or their communities with less and less money.

The budget slashed programs aimed at helping women. For example, the budget eliminated the Displaced Homemaker Program which helped mostly women get into the workforce. The NC Council for Women had administered 35 programs across NC – all gone. It also cut off state support for the Women’s Business Center, which helps women entrepreneurs.

** Public Education Cuts Hurt Women Disproportionally**
Lopsided tax cuts remove $683,000,000 from the budget over 2 years at the expense of public education. The NCGA did this knowing almost 10,000 teacher and teacher assistants would lose their jobs. They also made teaching worse in other ways—no raises AGAIN, and the recent removal of both career status and higher pay for teachers with graduate degrees. About 80% of teachers and staff are women. Remaining staff AND STUDENTS are hurt by overload and lack of resources, and by teachers leaving in droves! During the 2013-2014 school year, over 600 teachers have left Wake County alone!! Teachers are also leaving universities. Our teachers can get huge pay raises in every neighboring state.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) seems to be doing all it can to hurt the very people it exists to help. DHHS went ahead with a new system to manage Food Stamps – called NC FAST. NC Fast has been more than slow, preventing people from getting food stamps FOR MONTHS in many counties. Last fall, DHHS was caught biasing an official report to make NC’s Medicaid program sound bad (goal to privatize it). DHHS deployed another new system (NC Tracks) which has prevented doctors and hospitals from being paid – causing some businesses to close, but further limiting access to health care. Also caused lawsuits.

** Motorcycle Abortion Law (House Bill 353) and New Regulations that WILL Close Clinics**

The legislative history of House Bill 353 and its content is disgraceful. It is a pastiche of several bills tacked onto two totally unrelated bills as amendments. The fig-leaf public hearing on the bill focused mainly on the proposal to require clinics that provide abortion services to be licensed as surgi-centers—a standard that could result in shutting down all but one clinic in the state, and which is totally unnecessary from a health or safety standpoint. The Governor, who made a campaign pledge not to support any new restrictions on abortion, signed the bill in July 2013, and caused an unforgettable, unforgivable insult to protesters involving cookies.

With clinic closings, we can expect illegal abortions to be the only viable option for many, resulting in possible infection, permanent infertility or death.

Overall this session is the worst in living memory for women and children. NC’s new economic policies hit the poor the hardest, while the middle class also suffers. Meanwhile, the rich and corporations are making out like bandits.

Women need an equal rights amendment to get any standing for legal grounds to fight this war on women in court. All of us must hold lawmakers and our governor accountable.

By Gailya Paliga, President of NC National Organization for Women

Show Me The Money, by Mary Sheridan

North Carolina’s disastrous budget fiasco is getting some much needed attention

What our State Office of Budget and Management called ‘disappointing’, Sabra Faires, in the N&O article on May 6, 2014 termed a ‘Budget Disaster of Gigantic Proportions’. That says it all, NC policymakers really made a terrible budget. Faires is a former assistant secretary for Tax Administration at the NC Department of Revenue – the woman knows whereof she speaks.

A de facto ‘Plan to Fail’ has been designed. The budget slashed taxes for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations who aren’t in need of the state’s largesse, at the same time burdening the working class (low and middle wage earners). Thanks to this bad budget and other laws passed in 2013, the unemployed, many of our children, the elderly, and the disabled of all ages are already faring worse (lost programs, thousands of teachers and teacher assistants laid off before school year, more leaving for greener pastures after school year began, slashed unemployment benefits, etc). Far from creating a budget that works, our legislators have created a short fall of $445 million by June 30, 2014, according to the Fiscal Research Division and the Office of Budget and Management figures released last Friday, May 2, 2014. Show us the money indeed, and its unfair appropriation.

According to Faires, this structural deficit “is the result of the 2013 tax law changes that reduce expected revenues below expected expenses.” And there are short-term and long-term problems with the budget. Worse, the budget does not plan for predicted growth, like growth in education employment, teacher and state employee raises, growth in Medicaid, plans for repairs and maintenance.

To add insult to injury, our elected officials have chosen to shorten the ‘Short Session’ by one third — they will meet for four weeks, rather than the usual six weeks. There is as much time to make a difference as there is to do more damage. What will the people we elected do? What should they do?

We would like to suggest that in those four short weeks they could remedy a great many of the problems they created in their cutting and slashing march across the state budget. Some of those are

* Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit enabling working families to provide the basic necessities for themselves.
* Raising teachers’ salaries to a respectable level, rather than leave them at the deplorable 46th in the nation position they are now. Invest in public schools by replacing teacher assistants and other staff, and providing textbooks, and other resources.
* Return the $11 million in private school vouchers to public education. That $11 million allocation is for the 2014-2015 school year alone.
* Restore the Personal Exemption tax, and the former calculation for determining how much of a retired person’s Social Security is taxed.

These all affect women to a great degree – single women, teachers, mothers with families to feed and clothe, older women on fixed incomes.

Halting the second phase of the tax law would allow the state to reinvest and rebuild. Current law dictates further reductions in the personal income tax rate and the corporate income tax rate in 2015, when North Carolina clearly cannot afford these.

Most importantly our elected officials have a responsibility to the people who put them in power to provide balance and fairness in the entire tax structure. The tax structure currently favors wealthy individuals and successful corporations at the expense of the low and middle wage earners. The budget as it stands cannot work – it is not designed to maintain programs for the public good, it didn’t plan for predicted growth.

Our lawmakers need to use the short session to fix this gigantic mess of a budget and get North Carolina on track for jobs, public education, health care, and the public good.