To the Editor:
I continue to be mystified by the behavior of Art Pope’s legislature in Raleigh. While ranting against Washington mandates and interference in state and local affairs, they are aggressively using those same tactics.
They have legislated a seizure of the Asheville water system, which the citizens of Asheville have improved and maintained. It will be turned over to a regional board with appointed members that do not represent the customer base of water users. There has been no documented benefit to either the city or the county. There will be no compensation to the city for an asset valued in the hundreds of millions. Imagine that the government took over your land or business that you had grown and invested in and didn’t pay you for it. Because of the way you vote? Even Carl Mumpower, conservative columnist of The Ashville Citizen-Times, characterized this as “theft.” Similar seizures are being legislated for the city built and operated airports in Asheville and Charlotte.
In the course of authorizing fracking in North Carolina (a silly piece of legislation since it is decades from being an issue here) they have prohibited local governments from restricting or prohibiting deployment of this problematic technology in their jurisdictions.
In education, they mandated a salary increase (modest) for teachers, while pulling back the funding to support that raise. Macon County has “reverted” more than $3.2 million since 2010. This from an already inadequate and shrinking commitment by the state to public education.
While I can understand their cutting back unemployment benefits and not expanding health benefits for the poor as being ideologically consistent with their Tea Party agenda, the fact that they are sending over $6 billion of tax dollars paid by North Carolina citizens to other states is a bit bizarre and fiscally irresponsible. Florida figured it out; it would seem that North Carolina could have too.
As a former resident of South Carolina, I watched as this philosophy took over and made that state a serious contender in the “Race to the Bottom” with Mississippi and Alabama. It is unfortunate that North Carolina has chosen to join in that competition. Surely, we can do better!