INCESSANT TAX CUTS ARE RUNNING OUR STATE INTO THE GROUND: North Carolina tax cuts have primarily benefited large corporations and high income people. There is little evidence that this grows the economy. (We don't believe in trickle down any more than we believe in the Easter bunny.) By resisting any increases in the minimum wage, our legislative leaders’ policies are keeping a lid on disposable income. They’ve expanded sales taxes to more items and services as they’ve eliminated popular programs like the back-to-school sales tax-free weekend and the sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances. None of these actions increase consumer purchasing power. Rather than continue with tax cut obsessions, legislative leaders need to focus first on what North Carolina needs to have – well paid teachers and school administrators; best-in-the-nation schools and universities; access for all to affordable health care and; a top quality of life. If there’s anything left over after that, only then should any adjustments in revenues be considered.
STOP HARASSING AND DEPORTING DACA RECIPIENTS: Even people who view all illegal immigrants as “criminals” must recognize that small children aren’t committing crimes when their parents carry them across a border. The children didn’t choose to enter the United States, and by the time they’ve grown up, they don’t know any home other than this country. Yanking them from their American lives and sending them to a foreign “homeland” is cruel to them and bad for the U.S. ICE has plenty of high-priority illegal immigrants it should target for arrest and deportation. It’s not a matter of “discretion” to leave DACA participants alone. It’s good policy and a presidential order.
DESPITE GOLDEN PARACHUTE, O'RIELLY'S FIRING SENDS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE: His success on that front prompted Fox News to tolerate O’Reilly’s boorish – and worse – behavior toward women off-camera. Just last month, the network signed him to a new three-year contract. That started to change when The New York Times revealed that the Fox host has paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims and advertisers began to abandon the show. Yet even as Fox gave up on O’Reilly, it sent him off with a reported $25 million severance package. That’s quite a punishment. O’Reilly’s actions were tolerated too long and his dismissal shouldn’t have come with such treasure, but his fall nonetheless marks a major step in sending the message that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated at any level.
NEW CLASS SIZE RESTRICTIONS CAUSING CHAOS IN LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS: Unless the legislature at least mitigates the impact of the class-size rule, districts will be scrambling to find local money or to shift teaching resources. The sharpest pain point that has galvanized parents and others to protest the potential outcome would come to “enhancement” classes. Local districts would have to shift state funds they have used to pay for art, music and physical education teachers to those kindergarten-third grade classes. The teacher-funding gap across the state could be eased if the legislature revises last year’s mandate. House Bill 13, which has passed the state House, would cut the costs by roughly two thirds. It’s stalled in the state Senate, which may not take it up until late this month. Meanwhile school districts are scrambling to craft budgets for next year with contingency plans for smaller class sizes.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
JANE S. GABIN: CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER NEEDS POWER TO LITIGATE: Recently, I attended the Diversity Awards at UNC’s Wilson Library. Attendees were greeted with flyers listing the honorees, who have positively impacted multicultural life at UNC. The flyers also noted “the Educational Policy Committee of the UNC Board of Governors is considering a proposal to forbid one of the winners of today’s awards – the UNC Center for Civil Rights – from litigating cases.” How can UNC honor an office, while simultaneously trying to prevent that office from doing the work that comprises its reason for being? There was notable response to the Center for Civil Rights. The center serves communities subjected to, and still suffering from, persistent school segregation, voter suppression and environmental racism. These communities look to UNC for help. Asking the Center for Civil Rights not to litigate for civil rights is counter-intuitive.
BETSY HITT: TO CARE FOR THE UNBORN MEANS TO CARE FOR THE MOTHER: Rep. Mark Walker says he cares for the unborn while simultaneously working to strip their mothers’ access to quality health care, including prenatal services, contraceptive services, cancer screenings and STD screenings. Defunding Planned Parenthood will result in a spike in abortion, an escalation in unintended births and Medicaid costs, as well as an increase in undetected cancers and STDs in the populations that Planned Parenthood serves. If indeed Mark Walker truly cares for the unborn, he should show it by voting to expand a mother’s access to quality health care for herself and her family.
JOSEPH NORMAN PINCUS: SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES MUST NOT END: Regarding the April 16 Point of View “Why I’m marching for science”: There is reason to be “as mad as hell and not take it anymore.” There is much to be saddened and dismayed about regarding science and climate control and how they are viewed now. Respect for scientific inquiry and the advances that have enhanced our lives is absent because with the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of these United States and his Republican majority in both houses of Congress we are about to take a giant leap backward in time. We should all be frightened that President Trump has ordered a media blackout on the EPA, the Interior Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and what this entails for our environment and future survival.