Budget is about $95 million for Haywood, Jackson and Swain

By Rep. Joe Sam Queen • Guest Columnist

I will stand with our governor and uphold his budget veto because we can do better — we must do better — for Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties. $95 million better!

This year, we have a real opportunity to make smart investments in our communities. We can expand Medicaid today, covering 500,000 hard-working, low-wage workers across our state, all with no new taxes. We can put a forward-thinking bond package on the ballot for the citizens to vote on this November that will make critical investments in our public schools. Our current budget proposal does not accomplish either of these necessary goals. 

Science program goes statewide: ecoEXPLORE program for kids now available in N.C. State Parks

A program that’s been getting Western North Carolina kids outside since 2016 is now a statewide offering, with a whirlwind tour of 10 North Carolina state parks over the next couple weeks celebrating ecoEXPLORE’s arrival at all 41 park units. 

“There’s a lot of benefits to being outdoors, and it’s something that we’re seeing less and less in adults and children,” said Jonathan Marchal, youth education manager at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. “A lot of times it’s almost like a competition — you can go outside and be screen-free, or you can go indoors and be completely immersed in a screen. I think one approach that is helpful is utilizing those items like smartphones as tools to explore the environment, and not just as tools to explore the environment but to engage kids in doing conservation work.”

Independent redistricting is the only answer

As we celebrate Independence Day, it seems an appropriate time to call for an independent commission to address North Carolina’s grossly gerrymandered voting districts.

In a much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision last week, a 5-4 majority of justices decided they should not be the arbiter of extreme political redistricting, however damaging to democracy that practice may be. The court’s conservative majority, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing, determined that drawing maps to favor one party presents “political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.” 

Why Medicaid expansion is not the answer

There’s perhaps been no greater ideological clash in American government over the past century than the extent to which the individual, as opposed to the collective, should be prioritized. 

Frustrations mount over health care access

Carrie McBane of Sylva was at the end of her rope a year ago. She knew something was wrong and needed to go to a doctor but she didn’t have health insurance. 

Budget standoff hinges on Medicaid expansion

Calling the $24 billion state budget passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature “an astonishing failure,” Gov. Roy Cooper, D-Rocky Mount, vetoed it June 28. 

Gerrymandering ruling leaves NC districts in place

A June 27 Supreme Court decision not to get involved with politically gerrymandered congressional districts in Maryland and North Carolina means it’s unlikely Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows’ Western North Carolina district will change before his presumed reelection campaign in 2020.

Distillery reform bill could soon advance

A regulatory reform bill intended to bring parity for North Carolina’s distillers with its craft brewers continues to make its way through the legislature.

State budget coming down to the wire

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has a budget. The N.C. House of Representatives has a budget. The N.C. Senate has a budget. But as of now, the state of North Carolina does not. 

N.C. Senator, Cherokee chief spar in opposing op-eds

In his first public statement on a bill he cosponsored in March, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., wrote an op-ed published in The Charlotte Observer June 19 decrying the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ opposition to legislation that would pave the way for a Catawba Indian Nation casino in Kings Mountain. 

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.