To the Editor:
In a recent letter titled “New laws bring advantages to N.C. citizens,” the writer stated “It’s time to speak the truth about the gains made by the N.C. legislature in its 2013 session.” While most of the facts stated are true, the writer didn't tell the whole truth! The rest of the truth follows in the areas addressed by the writer.
Education: it is true that the appropriation is $361 million more than the previous year, but it is $120 million less than what the state budget office said was necessary to maintain education at the 2012 level. The rest of the education story: $10 million in public funds were allocated for private school vouchers; 5,200 teaching positions lost and 4,580 teacher assistant positions cut in the new budget; starting salary for N.C. teachers is $30,800 which is less than $15 per hour; 2,400 at-risk children are cut from pre. How do these budget realities bring advantages to the state's students and teachers?
Election process: early voting reduced by seven days even though 56 percent of voters used it in 2012; no same day registration, no straight ticket voting; 25 percent increase in contribution limits on what private donors can give candidates; ID requirement means that 318,000 registered voters that do not have a driver's license or state-issued ID will have to get one — even IDs issued by state-supported colleges and universities will not be accepted. “Free” IDs will cost taxpayers $834,200 in 2013-2014 and $24,100 every two years after that. Out of almost seven million votes cast in the last election, only 121 were referred to the proper authorities for investigation. No doubt these were cast by both parties. Does any of this give an advantage to N.C. voters?
Tax Reform: 170,000 workers will lose benefits; 907,000 low-wage workers will have a tax increase because the Earned Income Tax Credit is ending (64,000 military families claimed this credit in 2011); millionaires will get an average tax cut of $10,000 while 80 percent of taxpayers will get an increase; $50 million a year lost by cutting out the estate tax.
Individual Rights: are the rights of women really being protected? The writer states that Medicaid will be “more patient oriented and fiscally responsible.” How so when 500,000 low-income adults will be without health insurance because legislators voted against participating in the Affordable Care Act? What advantage is there is allowing guns at schools and in bars? Will this make anyone safer? The writer concludes by saying “Fair thinking voters will see that they made the correct choice in electing a majority Republican legislature.” I suggest that a majority of voters will see that the “advantages” the writer identifies are in fact disadvantages for the majority of us and will vote accordingly in the future.