· Fails to repair the damage last year’s budget did to schools, which resulted in 6,000 cut K-12 positions, including 3,000 teachers and teacher assistants.
· Cuts an additional $190 million, which represents an additional 3,400 teachers, at the same time student enrollment is increasing.
· Brings the two-year cut for K-12 to nearly $650 million.
· Eliminates funding for programs with proven success, such as the Teaching Fellows, Teacher Cadet Programs, Tarheel Challenge, and Communities in Schools.
· Cuts funding for textbooks, technology in the classroom, PTAs and counselors for children in military families.
· Imposes the largest cuts in the history of the state to the UNC system, totaling $414 million.
· Reduces access to higher education for middle class students by reducing need-based financial aid funding $22 million for the UNC system.
· Imposes the largest cuts in the history of the state to the community college system.
· Closes the door to community college for some students by increasing tuition by 23% and restricting access to low cost federal loans.
· Walks away from state’s commitment to educate our young children so they are ready to learn when they start elementary school by slashing early childhood education by 20%.
· Singles out and defunds Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services for women, such as cancer screenings and family planning.
· Fails to reverse cuts to programs for victims of rape and domestic violence enacted in 2011.
· Cuts mental health services by $20 million.
· Eliminates drug treatment court services.
· Eliminates public transportation funds for the state with the exception of the Charlotte Rail System.
· Cuts maintenance funding for primary and secondary roads by $60 million.
· Continues the tax break for equity partners in law firms, doctors’ offices and financial firms from last year’s budget, even for those earning millions, while further cutting our schools.
· Eliminates the money to compensate victims of forced sterilization from the House budget.
· Cuts State Board of Elections budget by $120,000 and sets aside no money to leverage the Help America Vote Act federal grant to help our elections run more efficiently this November.
· Cuts the Clean Water Management Trust Fund by 90%.
Mandatory Trans-Vaginal Ultrasounds
The Republicans passed legislation that requires women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe prior to terminating a pregnancy, including women who are victims of rape. The law requires doctors or other health professionals to turn the ultrasound screen to face the woman and describe in detail the developmental stage of the fetus, even if the woman or the health professional objects. This law is more extreme than the Virginia legislation that the Republican governor of that state refused to sign.
Fracking and Energy:
The Republican General Assembly authorized fracking, putting our drinking water at risk. North Carolina’s geology poses unique risks because the natural gas and drinking water tables are relatively close together and our soils are more permeable. Our gas supplies are projected to be the equivalent of a 1 year supply for North Carolina, which represents a 12 day national supply. Furthermore, we have no natural gas infrastructure, and natural gas prices are at record lows. Industry representatives have said that North Carolina is not a priority and any jobs are a decade away. The risks simply outweigh the potential benefits at this point.
Meanwhile, our clean tech sector, which has been growing dramatically in recent years because of forward-looking policies enacted by previous legislatures, is at risk of stagnation because it is being ignored by the Republican leadership focused exclusively on fracking.
Polluting Jordan Lake:
The General Assembly passed two laws to weaken the Jordan Lake Rules. These rules were painstakingly created over the past decade to clean Jordan Lake, a polluted lake that provides drinking water to 300,000 people in western Wake County and recreation to a million people each year. First, the Republicans enacted a law to give Greensboro two extra years to improve its wastewater treatment facility, thereby allowing water that flows into Jordan Lake to remain polluted for years longer. Second, they voted to delay the stormwater rules on new development for two years—rules that are needed to reduce the amount of pollution that flows into the lake. I fear these delays are the beginning of an effort to eliminate the rules all together. Finally, in the waning days of the session, along with Senator Richard Stevens, Senator Floyd McKissick, and others, I fought an effort that would have allowed a massive development in southern Durham County near Jordan Lake, contrary to the wishes of the city. You may click here to read more in an article posted by WRAL.com NC Senate strikes down amendments to water laws.
A legislative supermajority voted at the end of session to override a veto of a bill that guts the Racial Justice Act, a law to have our justice system operates without racial bias. The new law (Senate Bill 416) essentially repeals a three year-old law in North Carolina that allowed defendants on death row who proved that racism played a part in their trial or sentencing to have their sentences changed to life without the possibility of parole.