Monthly Archives: July 2014

NC following the downhill spiral of Kansas

The Budget and Tax Center is warning NC off following the downhill spiral in Kansas.  This came out before the official NCGA analysis of NC’s numbers came out on 7/24/14.  And again, the NCGA memo just includes estimates of personal income – we do not know how much NC will lose from the corporate tax cuts.

downwardspiral

“In 2012, Kansas passed huge income tax cuts – considered perhaps the nation’s largest state tax cut ever – that were estimated to reduce annual revenue for public investments by more than $800 million. The reality in Kansas has been worse than expected, however. In fiscal year 2014, Kansas officials report that the state brought in $338 million less than anticipated. The lack of adequate revenue will likely mean continued cuts to public schools, colleges and universities, and healthcare services for Kansans. Cuts to these programs in Kansas and their damage to families and communities have been well documented and resulted in one high profile court case which determined the underfunding of public education unconstitutional.”

See more at http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=budget-and-tax/prosperity-watch-issue-39-no-4-kansas-tax-cut-experiment-greatly-reduces-state

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NC is bleeding money – NCGA could stop the hemmorrhaging!

Did you see the new estimates on the cost of the 2013 budget??  It’s 43% higher than before, according to the Fiscal Research Division of the NC General Assembly in a memo last Thursday, 7/24/14.

The 2013 state tax cuts for the 2014 year – personal income tax cuts alone – will cost 43% over earlier estimates! Earlier estimates put the cost of NC’s tax giveaways that mostly benefit the wealthy and corporations at nearly half a billion dollars ($475 million, to be exact). New estimates from the NCGA say the actual cuts will be $680 million dollars just in 2014! $205 million dollars MORE than earlier estimates!

And it will get worse if this money hemorrhaging isn’t stopped! The cost for the 2015 tax year is also projected to be $200 million higher than original estimates for 2015 – $890 million rather than $690 million. Additional tax cuts are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

And it could be worse!  The WRAL article, State Tax Cut Costs Ballooning, 7/25/14, said, “According to the memo, the forecast does not account for corporate tax rate cuts. ”

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Roe-Be-Gone Effort Focuses on Fetal Personhood, by Kim Gandy, 12/13/06

[Posting past NOW president Kim Gandy’s column on Fetal Personhood here, since I don’t see it at the new NC NOW website.  Raleigh NOW used this article in their “Fetal Personhood: What Would It Mean” event program (booklet) for a 2009 event, and so had a copy of the article.]

Below the Belt: A Biweekly Column by NOW President Kim Gandy December 13, 2006

While countless families on the Gulf Coast were still struggling to rebuild their lives from Hurricane Katrina, while the death toll of U.S. service members and Iraqi civilians climbed daily, and while over 46 million people in this country suffered from lack of health care, right-wing Republicans decided to spend the last few days of their reign advocating for fetuses. After all, why tackle complex and deep-rooted problems like poverty and war that have potentially expensive solutions when you can tie up Congress talking about fetuses? For many Republicans, this is not a rhetorical question.

Indeed, declaring fetuses to be equally protected “persons” (a legal term of art) under the law, and eventually under the U.S. Constitution, continues to be a holy mission for anti-abortion activists in the House, Senate, White House, throughout state governments, and beyond.

So why is establishing “fetal personhood” important to our opponents?

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Inequality For All – free screenings across NC from 7/22/14-7/31/14

Inequality For All – features Robert Reich — professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member — as he demonstrates how the widening income gap is having a devastating impact on the American economy.

inequality_for_all_with_reich

The North Carolina NAACP, Working Films, and state and local partner organizations are concluding the four month Moral Movies Film Series, with nine screenings of the acclaimed documentary Inequality for All across the state.  The film will screen in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston Salem beginning on July 22 (follow the link to dates and venues). The events aim to encourage dialogue and action to address economic inequality in the state.

Follow the link to find the screening nearest you –  http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=special-campaigns/media-release-statewide-moral-movies-film-series-concludes-inequality-all

Action: Not My Boss’s Business Bill – Did your Senator(s) vote Against birth control?

If you live in NC, you have one senator who voted for women and one who voted against.  Call your Senator who voted against the “Not my boss’s business” bill.  Tell Sen. Burr you are upset with his vote against birth control coverage, and for corporations.  Give him a quick call (Monday to Friday) at Sen. Burr – (202) 224-3154

Tell the person who answers the phone that you you are very disappointed with his vote on the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act.”  You want Burr to vote for birth control coverage (and women) when the bill comes up again.

Bill sponsor Sen. Patty Murray has a one page summary of the bill, formally named “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act.” at http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/30554052-0f84-485a-babc-ccc04af85bb6/protect-women-s-health-from-corporate-interference-act—one-page-summary—final.pdf

The one pager includes

“Contraception is a core preventive health service for women, coverage of which was guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. Yet, this June the Supreme Court held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell, that some corporations can get out of complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement if they have religious beliefs against birth control.”

So the (US) Senate wrote a bill that “would restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and also protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits.”

Sen. Burr voted against this bill (and for corporations).

Groll: Rape Deniers, 6/28/14, Onslow Times

Sometimes a man’s comments so shock the conscience that the only moral option is to drop his column no matter how mega-mouthed a political icon he is.

Turns out, George Will will no longer be featured on the pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The paper dumped his bottom end last Wednesday mincing no words as to why in a posting to their readers:

“The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it. ”

Wow! See Marena Groll’s whole article, “Rape Deniers,” at the Onslow Times (Jun 28, 2014) at http://onslowtimes.com/rape-deniers/

MMFay_Marena_podium

FB: Congresswoman Renee Ellmers embarrasses NC and women everywhere, 7/15/14

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers actually gave this advice for her GOP male colleagues. She says they need to speak “down to a woman’s level” so that they can be understood.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/ellmers-urges-men-bring-policy-down-womans-level

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/15/1314129/-GOP-Rep-Renee-Ellmers-Men-Must-Speak-Down-To-A-Woman-s-Level-If-They-Want-To-Be-Understood

Apparently we must all speak down for her poor sad self, but if you speak down to me, watch out!

If you want to call her office and complain about her embarrassing women again (and/or question her competency for her job as Congresswoman if she can’t understand a pie chart or graph), call her office at any of the following places:

Washington, D.C. Office – Phone: (202) 225-4531

Dunn, N.C. — District Office –
Phone: (910)230-1910, Toll Free 1-877-645-8764

Asheboro, N.C. — District Office – Phone: (336) 626-3060

FB: 3 Monumentally Disastrous SCOTUS Rulings – for Women, 7/14/14

Although the short session has been fascinating, a legislative update wouldn’t be complete without including the 3 monumentally disastrous Supreme Court cases that were decided within a week (Jun 26, 2014 to June 30, 2014), all of which hurt women.

First, the Supreme Court ruled on the abortion clinic buffer zone case, McCullen v. Coakley. On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Massachusetts law creating a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in which protest was forbidden is a violation of the First Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which held that the law was unconstitutional because it blocked peaceful protest on public streets. The case was brought up by a grandma. Now, anyone who has escorted at abortion clinics knows that grandma is not the main danger there (although older ladies can be dangerous too). But dangerous and threatening people there are, just as there are people who plan to shoot (and have shot) patients, doctors and staff.

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FB: On Mass Murderer who killed his ex-wifes family and went after her parents, 7/15/14

No excuse for this horror. This time, the abuser MURDERED his ex-wife’s sister and 4 of 5 of her children. He had a history of serious domestic violence, and even had attacked his mother. This shocking MASS MURDER shows how easy it remains for domestic abusers to possess firearms, thanks to weak legislation. Not that laws mean safety for abuse victims, unfortunately.

According to this article, “Under federal law, Haskell’s protective order should have prohibited him from owning guns, says Laura Cutilletta, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. However, in October 2013, Haskell’s protective order was converted to a “mutual restraining order” as part of their divorce and custody proceedings. “

“This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again, under both state and federal law. Had the first protection order not been dropped, Cutilletta added, “likely he would have been prohibited.” Nor is it likely that Haskell’s 2008 conviction barred him from owning a gun in Utah or Texas, Cutilletta says, because he was convicted of simple assault rather than domestic violence. “

And in the updates, we learn this.
“New reporting [10] shows that Haskell likely had two other pending restraining orders against him—one filed by his sister this past November, and the other by his mother as recently as July 3, 2014. “

During his attack on his mother, his mother said Haskell claimed he was “going to kill me, my family, and any officer who stops him.”

** If this information proves accurate, it raises additional questions about the role of restraining orders in this case, and whether they should have triggered a federal- or state-level ban on gun ownership. **

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder

FB: NC NOW Legislative Update for 7/11/14

Budget wars between the Senate and House and Governor continue during the short session, as they have for weeks. The official point of the short session is to revise the second year of the two-year budget that lawmakers passed in 2013. However, they are already late – the new fiscal year began on July 1, but NC still doesn’t have a budget. The House wanted to continue working on Friday, 7/11/14, but the Senate refused. So instead, the House made their case to reporters on Friday morning, including about the potential of going home without a new budget agreement!!

The budget meetings have been quite dramatic, including the Senate Republicans walking out on teachers and administrators who were invited by the House to talk about how schools and teachers depend on Teacher Assistants (7/9/14). Fannie Flono of the Charlotte Observer talks about ‘the Show at the NC Legislature’ at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/07/10/5036686/the-show-at-the-nc-legislature.html#.U8Quuq1OXcs

Basically, our representatives must face the shortfalls that they **created** by giving away a net $525 million in tax breaks to the wealthy and to profitable corporations. This fiscal year, they planned to cut tax income even more.

LegislativeBuildingFrontRaleigh

As the N&O wrote in “It’s time to rethink NC tax cuts,” (7/5/14) “As North Carolina lawmakers struggle to agree on the second year of the state budget, it’s becoming clear that last year’s decision to cut taxes came too early and went too far. The state compressed its three-level personal income tax rates of 6, 7 and 7.75 percent to a flat 5.8 percent and reduced the corporate tax rate from 6.5 to 6 percent. “

The N&O also wrote, “Had the Republican-led General Assembly held off on these cuts, North Carolina would be enjoying a budget surplus now. There would be money to increase teacher pay without cutting education elsewhere. There would be money to invest in the University of North Carolina and in the state’s neglected roads, bridges and water systems. And there would be money for modest, well-targeted tax cuts. “

And this fiscal year, it will only get worse. The state’s income tax is planned to drop to 5.75 percent, and the corporate tax will drop to 5 percent. Only making everything worse. Read the N&O’s rething tax cuts article at http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/07/05/3986821/its-time-to-rethink-nc-tax-cuts.html#storylink=cpy

And not only Teacher Assistants were targetted, but also, elderly people, disabled, and young chidlren. The NC Senate budget planned to remove many elderly, blind and disabled from Medicaid, and both the House and Senate talked about cutting funding for after school programs for children ages 6-12. These plans are incredibly callous and not well considered. On the one hand the state is taxing the working poor more (and starting at $19,400 vs $23,400, according to the Budget and Tax Center), forcing parents to work more, they plan to throw children out of after school programs. Cutting these programs also cuts jobs for those tutors and caretakers.

It has been really interesting to hear the conservative representatives making reasonable points sometimes. NC Policy Watch summarized this as follows, “Budget conferees change their rhetoric on the role of government, but not the underlying policies that undermine it” in ‘Lawmakers try to have it both ways,” at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/07/10/lawmakers-try-to-have-it-both-ways/

For example, Senator Neal Hunt claims “that rapid expansion of “welfare” spending is the chief problem that’s holding back the state budget” and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Nelson Dollar refuted this, saying something incredible. Dollar said, “I don’t see any big welfare line item in this budget. Medicaid spends billions on mental health, pregnant women, people who have diabetes, or cancer or heart disease. I don’t see those things as welfare. I see those as treating our fellow 1.6, 1.7 million citizens of our state in a very humane way….Do we help those who cannot help themselves?”

But still, they don’t admit their part in causing the problem. As the article says, “Most notable in this regard is the failure of legislative leaders to acknowledge the devastating impact of the unnecessary and destructive tax cuts they enacted last year.”

Another basic problem was never resolved between the Senate, House and Governor’s budgets. Lawmakers never agreed on basic numbers about the state’s projected revenues and the costs of Medicaid even as they tried to find money to meet basic needs of our state’s citizens.

On the other hand, every day the NCGA continue the session costs $50,000, which is more than the average annual teacher’s salary.