November 15, 2011
ELECTION RESULTS: Voters support sales tax increase
Last week, the big winners at the polls were public investments in key areas such as education, economic development, and transportation.
Voters in Buncombe, Durham, Montgomery and Orange counties voted to increase the local sales tax rate by a quarter-center or more, on top of two others – Cabarrus and Halifax – that voted for similar measures earlier this year. The sales tax will go towards supporting new measures across the state, including new transit plans and education programs.
This is a huge victory for programs that will help reboot North Carolina’s infrastructure and ensure its economic future. But almost as significantly, these victories reflected a true sea change for voters. Last year, 16 counties rejected any increase for the local sales tax. In 2008, a whopping 31 counties rejected a similar increase.
Despite their earlier resistance to raising taxes, it seems that voters are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of such measures. They can see just how vital public investments and services are in the rebuilding of our state. These investments will help create economically secure communities, and help reverse the slash and burn tactics from our legislature that have negatively affected families across the state throughout this year.
UNEMPLOYED VETERANS: Benefits critical to aiding our soldiers
In light of Veterans Day, the NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, released a profile demonstrating the plight of our country’s veterans during our economic downturn.
- As of October 2011, more than 850,000 veterans were currently without jobs. This is equivalent to roughly 171 brigades of the U.S. Army.
- Between Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2011, the unemployment rate for veterans serving after Sep. 11, 2011 increased by 1.5 percent, to 12.1 percent from 10.6 percent.
- In 2010, 8.2 percent of all veterans in the Old North State were without jobs while the rate for the nation is slightly higher at 8.5 percent.
Veterans without jobs face multiple challenges in their search, both in connecting to potential jobs and even instances of discrimination. The loss of public sector jobs in the state from federal and state budget cuts will simply compound the difficulty of finding work. National data shows that post-9/11 veterans were twice as likely to work in the public sector as nonveterans.
As federal support for extended unemployment benefits nears its expiration date, it has never more critical to protect the tens of thousands of North Carolinians – including our veterans – that will be affected by the expiration. At the moment, unemployment benefits last 26 weeks, but federal legislation allows states to receive full federal funding for benefits for 34 to 73 weeks after state unemployment programs have been exhausted. Extending the benefits will protect nearly 70,000 North Carolinians who would otherwise lose that support in January 2012.
BUILDING A STRONGER NC: Interactive sessions across the state
This year, United Way and the NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, are once again teaming up to share the story of the economy and state budget. Through interactive sessions across North Carolina entitled “Building a Stronger North Carolina”, communities will be given the opportunity to respond and help write the next chapter in this ever-changing story.
Attendants will be encouraged to ask and answer a variety of questions, such as:
- How have the state budget and the economy impacted your community?
- What budget trends are developing, and how long will it take for NC to recover from the Great Recession?
- Is NC falling behind in areas like Education, Health and Public Safety?
- How can you impact the issues you care most about?
- How can you join with others to focus your local advocacy for the greatest outcome?
The first event will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16, in Colfax, at the Girl Scouts’ Carolinas Peaks2Piedmont Triad Services Center. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
There will also be multiple events throughout December in Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Wilmington, Rocky Mount, Elizabeth City, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Durham and Orange County. Check out this flyer for all of the details, and keep an eye out for updates in future newsletters.
CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Event in Chatham County
Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Thursday, December 1 for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.
The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for older adults and build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and more.
The free event will be held from 10:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. at the Eastern Chatham Senior Center in Pittsboro. To reserve your seat, contact local partner, Eastern Chatham Senior Center at 919-542-4512 or Nicole Dozier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-856-2146.
CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: NC Policy Watch tackles marriage debate
Next May, North Carolina voters are scheduled to go to the polls to vote on one of the most important and controversial constitutional amendments to ever be placed on a state ballot. The proposed marriage amendment states that “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”
Recent polls indicate, however, that despite significant support for the amendment, most North Carolinians feel that same sex couples should be eligible for legal recognition. So, what would the effect of such an amendment be? Why the disconnect between voter attitudes and the apparent substance of proposal? And what are anti-amendment advocates going to do about it?
To learn the answers to these questions and more, please join NC Policy Watch and Equality NC for a very special Crucial Conversation luncheon on Tuesday, November 29. The event will feature Evan Wolfson, founder and President of the national nonprofit, Freedom to Marry — the campaign to win marriage nationwide, and two of North Carolina’s foremost constitutional scholars and experts on the proposed amendment, UNC Professors of Law, Maxine Eichner and Holning Lau. Executive Director of Equality NC Stuart Campbell will also join in on the conversation.
Click here to register for the Nov. 29 event, held from 12:30-2:00 p.m. at the Marbles Kids Museum at 201 E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh.