Hagan touts tax credits, criticizes state leaders
Posted August 1, 2013
Updated August 2, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — In an interview with WRAL News Thursday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Republican state lawmakers are underfunding education and trying to suppress the vote.
Hagan spoke with reporters to promote her work to preserve the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The Senate Finance Committee is reportedly considering repealing those credits as part of its work on tax reform.
Hagan said the federal credits are especially important to North Carolina's military families. She says 64,000 claimed one or both credits last year.
Asked about the state tax reform initiative recently passed by Republican lawmakers, Hagan says she's concerned about its impact on lower- and middle-income families. She said it will also diminish the state's ability to give raises to teachers.
"I've heard teachers in Charlotte are actually leaving and going to work in South Carolina," she said. "We need to be concerned about that. Being 46th in teacher pay, 48th in per-pupil spending is not ... where North Carolina should be."
Hagan said she believes voters want to see progress on jobs and education rather than partisan battles at the state or federal level.
"I think some of the issues that I've seen take place in the General Assembly this session is certainly looking the other way, and it's certainly not focusing on jobs," she said.
She declined to answer a question about Moral Mondays and the 2014 elections but took the opportunity to slam Republican leaders for their sweeping changes to the state's voting and campaign finance laws in the final days of session.
"[People] want to be able to vote. When we're talking about voter fraud – I don't think that has anything to do with how many days the polls are open or the fact that unlimited money now can go to the state parties. I think that's a red herring," Hagan said. "We ought to be sure that people have the right to vote and encourage that, instead of suppressing the vote."
Hagan's Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, declined to comment on the state education budget or the voting changes.
“Senator Burr has been focused on the critical issues facing the federal government and the national issues his constituents elected him to work on, not the legislative items his constituents sent their state representatives to Raleigh to work on," said Burr Press Secretary Robert Reid in a written statement. "He looks forward to continuing to work with his Senate colleagues on the repeal of 'Obamacare,' tackling the national debt, fixing the tax code, repairing our broken entitlement programs and forging bipartisan solutions to student lending and other higher education issues.”
Ray Martin, a spokesman for North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, said Hagan should be thanking Berger for cleaning up "the disaster she made of state government."
"It's tough for North Carolinians to take seriously the policy advice of someone who wrecked the state budget, raised taxes and killed jobs, cast the deciding vote to force 'Obamacare' down our throats and lacked the political clout to extend federal benefits to 70,000 unemployed North Carolinians," Martin said in a statement. "I'm not sure if we're better off because of Kay Hagan's failure to pass a budget in Washington, but she should stop the hypocritical rhetoric."