18,000 Teachers to be Fired

This morning Rep. Tricia Cotham (D - Mecklenburg) hosted a conference call on North Carolina's budget.  The call included Charlotte area elected officials, teachers, advocates, clergy, and neighborhood leaders.

Three weeks ago our budget deficit was 3.3 billion dollars.  It was 4.2 billion dollars as of last Monday, and it is 4.6 billion dollars today.  This number will likely be revised again.

Conservatives, led by budget and policy experts like Joe the Plumber, have a solution for this problem.  Its the solution they have for most problems: cut public service and public servants

The "low-lights" of the proposed cuts are beneath the fold.

1.8 billion in cuts to education, including:

  • Reduction in the number of teachers by at least 12,000, this number likely to be increased by 18,000
  • ALL teacher assistants in 3rd grade classrooms
  • Cuts to the number of social workers working with abused children and foster care children without parents
  • Class size increase by 2 additional students per class
  • 50 school nurses to be fired
  • 7% of all janitors, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers to be fired
  • Elimination of 350 administrators, principals, and vice principals, increasing the workload from 750 to nearly a thousand students per administrator
  • Termination of assistance for school with a concentration of children living in poverty
  • Elimination of Learn and Earn

From higher education:

  • 19% increase in Community College tuition
  • 8% tuition increase in University tuitions
  • Continuing education fees will be doubled
  • 12 million dollars cut from cancer research

From services to the vulnerable:

  • 20% reduction in our already troubled mental health system
  • Closures of rape crisis, abuse, and sexual assault centers across the state
  • The victim legal assistance program will be cut, as well as other legal services for the poor
  • Elimination of 25 district attorney positions and public defenders
  • 85 vital positions within the juvenile justice system will be cut including juvenile court counselors
  • Cuts health insurance to children, increasing burden on emergency rooms (which will cost society more money)
  • Reduction in the reimbursement rate for Medicaid, the result of which being that Mecklenburg Hospitals alone will lose 35 million
  • Hospice and elderly home care cut by 50% - meaning that we will deny the elderly sick assistance with bathing, meals, and clothes
  • Elimination of physical and speech therapy from Medicaid
  • Elimination of dental healthcare programs for children
  • Cuts to nursing homes assistance, many of those that who take care of our elderly will be fired, those that remain will be paid less
  • Cuts to job placement services for those suffering from mental health conditions, increasing homelessness and further dependence on government services

Additional losses:

  • Termination of 500 public employees working in transportation
  • 8 prisons to be closed, including one in Union County, - this will create a crisis of prisoner abuse and corruption in our already extremely overcrowded prisons
  • Millions of dollars in law enforcement costs to be passed to counties already faced with their own budgets crisis

We must consider revenue options.

If we fail to deal with this problem now it will be made worse.  Many of the above cuts will actually cost North Carolina money in the immediate future.  The costs of doing nothing are unemployment, crime, deprivation, and death.

Rep. Tricia Cotham is organizing within the legislature to meet this challenge. She is advocating for a tax increase on those making over a quarter of a million dollars a year; the top 3%.  97% of the North Carolinians would NOT pay more.

Rep. Tricia Cotham: "We will not have the revenue to solve all of these problems, yet we must not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. This is a critical moment in NC. It is time for all of us to stand up and do what is right." 

Rep. Ty Harrell had this to say about the budget: "The harsh reality of a 4.6 billion dollar budget deficit is that significant cuts will have to made, but there should also be a balanced revenue component that is included in the overarching budget plan"

Please call your elected officials and respectfully demand that they face our budget challenges and distribute the heavy burden on those best prepared to shoulder it. If you are fortunate enough to be represented by either Rep. Cotham or Rep. Harrell, please thank them for their progressive leadership.

Comments

Moore County

Our Commissioners are still trying to put through a tax cut during all of this.

As a Progressive...............

I am very sadden by this! Why don't we just come together as a community and do what is right? I'm am so tired of Weak Politicians that can't get there act together. STAND TALL FOR SOMETHING!

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

I'm sorry to say that my confidence in government has hit bottom

and I won't support tax increases or those who do. There are lots of ways to cut spending without devastating damage to the public. Schools could eliminate costly sports programs. Local sheriffs could ground or at least share their macho helicopters, We could stop jailing people for victimless crimes and revise our drug laws, we could clamp down on the abuses perpetrated on Medicare by unscrupulous vendors who, for example, charge $250 for an aluminum shower chair...or get government to crack down on profiteering.

None of our political "leaders" have the courage to step up and do what's right when what's right is unpopular. So they talk about cutting services and then raise taxes....and the taxes never go away. It's a vicious cycle.

The DOT keeps telling us they need more money for new roads...failing to recognize that transportation, as we know it, will be obsolete and/or unsustainable by the time they build these roads.

Government needs to start thinking outside the box. We do too.

Stan Bozarth

you may be right

You might be right and the examples of waste that you cite above might all be valid. Nonetheless your examples do not constitute a plan to balance the budget. At least one of your examples, ending the failed war on drug users, is not political viable in North Carolina.

The fact remains that those that stand in the way of revenue solutions to the present budget crisis are, as a direct consequence of that opposition, promoting suffering and loss of life for the most vulnerable of North Carolina's citizens.

If the top 3% would have some North Carolinians die or live in deprivation in order to protect their privilege, fine, let them fight to protect their advantage. Don't expect the rest of us to stand by idle and usher in that unmitigated wave of suffering.

You're correct. My comments don't constitute a plan to balance

the budget. Neither am I in the 3% you reference, nor do I want the most vulnerable among us to suffer deprivation. And, as you confirmed re the failed war on drugs, our politicians don't have the courage to do what's right. The difficulty we're facing getting some sort of universal health care system clearly demonstrates that not only do our politicians lack the backbone to do what's right, they favor the corporations that continue to take advantage of the citizenry. Naturally, they themselves don't (art least at the federal level) have the same worries or motivations facing the rest of us. Their snouts are up their ears in the public trough.

When our elected representatives finally have the courage and integrity to attack the numerous problems we face with reasonable solutions, I'd be more than willing to pay my share and somewhat more to support those who can't pay. In the meantime, we're just whizzing more dollars down the sewer of a feckless system. We need to demand solutions, not temporary fixes. We also need to demand that funding those solutions be shared equitably by all who can pay.

Stan Bozarth

"...promoting suffering and

"...promoting suffering and loss of life for the most vulnerable of North Carolina's citizens"

Give me a break! I'm tired of our politicians and their lackeys pulling on heart strings as an excuse to *continually* grow the government. Return the budget to a healthy balance; I don't recall there being all kinds of suffering and loss of life in NC some 10 years ago because you didn't get enough taxes.

It's Time to Face the Facts

and stop pulling at the heart strings of the voter. We've got to live in reality.

The budget needs to be cut. Look at the numbers yourself, google "osbm state nc historical budget" and look at how the NC budget has increased. It's almost doubled since 2000 -- and the population in that time has only increased from 800m to 950m. The state is taking more and more and more ... it has to stop. Yes, reality hurts -- education and all the other state/local services need to have their budgets slashed.

The taxpayers have taken a haircut, it's time for the state to do the same and learn to live within its means. It's not right to rob Peter (private employees) to pay Paul (state employees).

Heart strings, eh?

I see. So "heart strings" is bad. Ignoring plight of the poor is good.

People who think that it matters what happens to other people are not "living in reality."

So, "reality" means something like "survival of the fittest," I suppose.

How about this version of reality: If we do not take care of those who are struggling, they are not likely to just die off for our convenience. Desperate straits often compel desperate measures, and we see crime rise, not fall, as impoverished circumstances increase.

For those who are unable to comprehend the reality that there is true *value* to the concept of humane treatment of fellow human beings and *value* in a society that demonstrates compassion and caring, maybe the simple math of what happens to crime statistics when we cut off those heart strings will be helpful.

Oh, so those of that

Oh, so those of that disapprove of any tax increases (on anyone) are mean and uncaring? Typical response.

I know a "guilt trip" when I see one and that's what our politicians are doing ... but what about the little children ... the poor teachers... people will be dying in the streets...Give me a break! The world as we know it will NOT fall apart.

I do not live off the government dime; when times are tough, I cut back as does every other working family in the state. Why should the state live by a different standard than it's constituents? There's no justification for not learning to live within your means. When times are tough, you learn how to do more with less.

You make it too easy, lil' Lori in hypocrite-land

You most certainly live off the gummit dime - in good times and bad. The budget debate is just a matter of what we as a people choose to fund as priorities.

Enjoy your illusions about being wholly independent from humanity. No ideologue is an island.

 

There are plenty of people in the mountains

and in the eastern part of this state have been learning to live with less for decades. Not everyone is Scarlett O'Hara. If you don't have the fine velvet curtains leftover from before the war to yank down, the skill to whip them into a fine gown and the charm to remove the britches from the bankers, you're just out of luck.

Progressives are the true conservatives.

So your answer is to give up

trying to do for yourself and your family and let the govenment take over for you? Wow, that's not the South that I grew up in -- we didn't give up so easily.

You folks seem to be under the impression that this tax increase only impacts the "wealthy". You are wrong -- if you work or want to work, you will be impacted because businesses in NC (big and small) will have to look for their own cuts to counteract the additional taxes -- that means layoffs, paycuts and some shops may even give up and move to greener pastures -- that impacts the people that want to work. Are you unemployed? graduating from college? Well, this tax hike on businesses and the "wealthy" will just make it that much harder for them to get a job in NC and will surely spark more layoffs.

Additionally, the statement in the blog above is incorrect: "Rep. Tricia Cotham is organizing within the legislature to meet this challenge. She is advocating for a tax increase on those making over a quarter of a million dollars a year; the top 3%. 97% of the North Carolinians would NOT pay more." Not exactly. The tax plan as it stands in the finance committee:

http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/finance_passes_784m_tax_package

will increase:

1. Sales tax on most goods that you buy.
2. Add a new tax on repairs/warranties/services among other things. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal, but if you are in the service industry and you're already struggling, wait until you have to shell out taxes on the services you provide -- of course, if you're the consumer, you'll end up paying more.

Interestingly, the Democrats in the House pushed to kill the additional sales tax on beer and cigarettes. So, they thought it would be better to tax work/employers/services/goods that we need rather than cigarettes and beer which kill you. Hhmmm, compassion?

Tax increases.... this is just a start folks. Wait til you get hit with federal/local taxes, they're coming next. How's that tax cut Obama promised 95% of us working out for you? Take the blinders off people, we'll all be paying more for less, not just the wealthy/business.

Actually, I got a Fed tax cut.

I'm median-wage middle class (~$40k/yr household annual income). If you're in my income bracket, you know day-to-day was already not so easy -- BEFORE the financial crises blew up.

So, the Fed tax cut is working out o.k. for me. Not really sure why you're so snarky about that. You didn't get a tax cut? ... too wealthy? ... you got your tax cut several years ago and you want more? ... what? I don't get it ...

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I'm glad it's working out for you but

My point is that you can kiss that tax cut goodbye...All of our "taxes" will be going up. You may not see it in your paycheck, because it will be hidden elsewhere so you don't see where it's coming from.

One example, cap and trade:

"Washington, Jun 3 - The Democrats’ national energy tax – to be paid by anyone who drives a car, buys an American-made product, or has the audacity to flip on a light switch – would disproportionately target rural America by increasing the energy bills for every American family, hurting family farmers, and threatening small businesses. The legislation recently passed by the Energy & Commerce Committee and making its way to the House floor – often called “cap-and-trade” by its supporters – purports to combat global warming by setting strict limits on carbon emissions. To do so, it would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on energy use, which would place an especially heavy burden on rural America and family farmers. "

We use energy to make/transport most goods in this country. If those farmers or other business have to raise their prices to offset the energy tax, that means they'll have to raise the cost of their products to make a living themselves.

While you may get that federal return, do you want to pay more for food, milk, gas, electricty, natural gas, and the other things that you might need to work and live?

Or, even worse, what if the smaller farmers can't handle the tax and have to close down their business? That means less people producing the food that we need to survive ... that's not a good scenario at all.

Lori, don't you feel like an absolute jackass

having voted for the Republicans who got our country into this mess in the first place? Your party made the mess and now you get to just sit and fucking deal with it while we figure out how to clean it up. Pay your damned taxes and be happy you still have the ability to pay them. Don't pay your taxes and we'll laugh our asses off at you while you pay attorney's fees to try and stay out of jail.

You threatened to move from this state and take your tax dollars with you. I invited you to go ahead. Don't make empty threats. Leave. By all means, leave. For all our sakes, though, stop bitching and whining about paying the taxes that will not only pave our roads, educate our children and keep our communities safe - but will hopefully help pay to clean up the mess that 8 years of Republican rule got our country into.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Bit of a leap, there, Lori

I didn't say anything about people who disapprove of tax increases. Please read what I said, not what you wish I'd said.

What I was commenting upon was your remark about "heartstrings."

It was you who were being scornful and dismissive. I have no problem with people who disagree with strategies for addressing problems in government.

But you seem to have a struggle here making a reasonable argument. No one said anything about people dying in the streets, but why would you deny or dismiss the significance of children in need being deprived of essential services?

I think all of us agree that in tough times we tighten our belts. But there are consequences to making cuts in social services, and it's reasonable to question whether cuts should be at the expense of the people least able to withstand the deprivation.

You don't seem interested in acknowledging need so much as spouting off cliches that cannot substitute for solutions. Maybe you've been listening to too much talk radio for your talking points.

I read your post Brunette

You can refer back to your first sentence if you like:

"I see. So "heart strings" is bad. Ignoring plight of the poor is good."

and the first sentence of my response:

"Oh, so those of that disapprove of any tax increases (on anyone) are mean and uncaring? Typical response."

And, yes I will stand by that "heart strings" are bad when they're used to lay a guilt trip on you so that the other party can have their way. That's politics for you. Ms. Cotham laid this "guilt trip" on you so that you would approve of her increasing (all of our) taxes. A typical politician for you. She went line by line to tell you about all of the cuts in education. Did she tell you what things in the rest of the budget that didn't get cut that probably should? No. Did she estimate how many people in the private sector will lose their jobs because of these tax increases? No. She only told you the part of the story that would make her position look best.

I have absolutely no desire to hurt any of the children in this state -- I agree, they are the most vulnerable. I still stand though that the budget needs to be put back into perspective, it has grown at a greater rate than the population of the state -- if you honestly think that there is absolutely nothing else in the budget (no pork/no waste) that can be cut except those that help the most vulnerable, then you've been drinking too much koolaid.

Please do read it again, Lori.

Because you haven't answered the legitimate point that there is a large societal cost to be paid in cutting social services and increasing the number of people who, already marginalized and already limited in their resources, will turn to criminal activities to "catch up." At least that's the theory behind the increase in crime statistics that is said by some to correlate with aid to the needy.

As for Ms. Cotham, yes, it would appear that she is limiting her statements in advocacy of her position to those points that best support it. Are you suggesting that her fellow legislators on the other side are advancing their positions with caveats and prefaces to allow for all or even some of the points that undercut theirs? If so, I sure haven't heard those speeches in committee or on the floor.

My final point on the "heartstrings." No one likes what you refer to as a "guilt" trip, but I think our good friends on the right wing would be the first to say that "guilt" is not a bad thing, unless you're into the political correctness of declaring that we should all be absolved for any stirrings of the conscience. Stirrings of conscience are GOOD, in my view, because it's nice to know the conscience is alive and functioning.

Finally, when you use words like "typical" to signal disapproval of whatever follows, and you make "koolaid" references to dismiss opposing points of view, you really do sound like someone who has taken her style of argument from talk radio.

If you have serious arguments to make, try switching gears to an approach that values substance and civility.

Glad to see you here

:D



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Depends on your definition of "almost"

If 20.3 billion and 26.8 billion are "almost the same thing", then I guess you're right. The budget was 13.4 billion in 2000, and 20.3 billion in 2008.

And the scenario is actually: rob Philip (who makes over $200,000 yr) to pay Paul (state worker) so Peter (private employee) can continue to access all the programs and services that Paul provides.

If you want to play on words

And the scenario is actually: rob Philip (and Mary because this might be a 2-earner household income, who have a small business) to pay Paul (state worker that can retire at 50 and receive benefits until he dies at the expense of Philip and Mary who cannot receive their Social Security benefits until 70+) so Peter (private employee) can continue to access all the programs and services that Paul provides because Philip and Mary had to lay Paul off because the state, local and federal govenments continue to make it unprofitable to keep Paul employed.

I was born in this state, and specifically in Charlotte -- lived here for 40+ years. It's my home and I choose to stay here. But I do not have to. Other states that respect the hard work of their constituents (even those that are "wealthy") are looking pretty good right now.

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."
-William J. H. Boetcker

We all declare for liberty;

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name - liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.

- Abraham Lincoln

Lori, I invite you to move to one of those other states

that look good to you. Give it a go. See how you like it. You may be happy living somewhere else. Since you have that freedom to move around, maybe you can make it a research project. Give it a few years and report back to us on how much better life is in one of those other states.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Well now that's a formula for success Ms. Betsy

Yeah, tell those that earn money and provide jobs to the state economy to take a hike if they're tired having their liberties chipped away at little by little... that should be a great formula for economic recovery.

Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich (Wall Street Journal)
Americans know how to use the moving van to escape high taxes.

Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.

Martin Feldstein, Harvard economist and former president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, co-authored a famous study in 1998 called "Can State Taxes Redistribute Income?" This should be required reading for today's state legislators. It concludes: "Since individuals can avoid unfavorable taxes by migrating to jurisdictions that offer more favorable tax conditions, a relatively unfavorable tax will cause gross wages to adjust. . . . A more progressive tax thus induces firms to hire fewer high skilled employees and to hire more low skilled employees."
...

Finally, there is the issue of whether high-income people move away from states that have high income-tax rates. Examining IRS tax return data by state, E.J. McMahon, a fiscal expert at the Manhattan Institute, measured the impact of large income-tax rate increases on the rich ($200,000 income or more) in Connecticut, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 5% from 4.5%; in New Jersey, which raised its rate in 2004 to 8.97% from 6.35%; and in New York, which raised its tax rate in 2003 to 7.7% from 6.85%. Over the period 2002-2005, in each of these states the "soak the rich" tax hike was followed by a significant reduction in the number of rich people paying taxes in these states relative to the national average. Amazingly, these three states ranked 46th, 49th and 50th among all states in the percentage increase in wealthy tax filers in the years after they tried to soak the rich.

Quoting Feldstein here?

If I wanted to read more about Feldstein, I'd visit Locke Foundation sites directly.

No need to copy and paste JLF talking points here, my dear little lemming.

How about a little goose and gander?

If your corporation doesn't like our state's quality of life, have your blessed Charlotte Chamber of Commerce tell them to go somewhere else.

Of course, if the vaunted economic developers are so bad at their jobs that they have to resort to bribery, maybe that should tell you about the type of corporations and citizens we DON'T want to attract.

 

Thanks but

I prefer to take economic advice from actual economists. Not Preachers writings almost 100 years ago (as in before the Great Depression).

"Keep the Faith"

I defer to my comment to Ms. Betsy

if you'd prefer to hear from an economist rather than one of the greatest leaders of this once great country.

You're from Charlotte?

Just so you know, and I'm not "bashing" people who live there, but Charlotte has sucked up more state and Federal taxpayer dollars than can be adequately counted. Just the Brownfields grants alone run into the billions, and the hat trick of handing a new business a big wad of (taxpayer) cash in lieu of future revenues was created and perfected in Charlotte.

NC Tax Increases Impact All, Not Just the Wealthy

The statement in the blog above is incorrect: "Rep. Tricia Cotham is organizing within the legislature to meet this challenge. She is advocating for a tax increase on those making over a quarter of a million dollars a year; the top 3%. 97% of the North Carolinians would NOT pay more." Not exactly. The tax plan as it stands in the finance committee:

http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/finance_passes_784m_tax_package

will increase:

1. Sales tax on most goods that you buy.
2. Add a new tax on repairs/warranties/services among other things. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal, but if you are in the service industry and you're already struggling, wait until you have to shell out taxes on the services you provide -- of course, if you're the consumer, you'll end up paying more.

Interestingly, the Democrats in the House pushed to kill the additional sales tax on beer and cigarettes. So, they thought it would be better to tax work/employers/services/goods that we need rather than cigarettes and beer which kill you.

I disagree with

I disagree with the sales tax increase because it is regressive. However, the harm caused by the sales tax will be less than the harm caused by the cuts, so I am ok with it.

And the vast majority of the money in the revenue package comes from the income tax change.

"Keep the Faith"

Really?

"And the vast majority of the money in the revenue package comes from the income tax change."

You sure about that? I think not, you might want to take another look at the numbers in that article -- the NC consumer shares the larger burden in the sales tax increase:

Tax the Wealthy 256.7
Franchise Tax 59
Corp Tax 5.9
Bank Interest Deduct. 2.6
Total 324.2 Million

New tax on services 238.1
Sales Tax increase 195
Total 433.1 Million

What you're saying here is logically inconsistent

Rep. Cotham was advocating for a plan that increased taxes on the wealthy. What came out of a committee (i.e., a group of more than twenty people) was something different from what Rep. Cotham was advocating for. Rep. Cotham does not chair that committee.

That's the legislative process, not a lie. As Jagger says, you can't always get what you want (but if you try sometimes you get you need).

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks