Editorial: Legislators; abandon partisan bullying and focus on state's urgent needs

Posted January 9, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST

N.C. Legislative Building, upper lobby

CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019; Editorial #8378
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It is a new year and a new day at the North Carolina General Assembly.

The dark and stormy hyper-partisan atmosphere, fueled by the only veto-proof majority since the governor was granted the power 22 years ago, has dissipated as a new legislature gathers for the first time.

We hope now that a gubernatorial veto carries some clout, legislators will think and act more cooperatively and less ideologically as they craft legislation. To get important things accomplished, legislators will need to consider and address the interests and needs of ALL North Carolinians – not just narrow and favored special interests or powerful partisan patrons.

It is an opportunity for REAL leadership to emerge. Skill in building consensus will hold greater currency than the muscle to intimidate and steamroll. How will GOP leaders Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore handle themselves? What will Democratic leaders Sen. Dan Blue and Rep. Darren Jackson do to effectively assert their interests to achieve real results and not merely be distant voices of opposition?

For Democrats and Republicans it is past time to move away from the narrow feuding and score-settling of the last half-dozen years and focus on the bigger picture of helping and moving the whole state forward.

It doesn’t matter who gets credit, just get to work and meet these important needs.

  • Expand Medicaid. Repeal the ban and join the 37 other states to expand health coverage to the more than 600,000 North Carolina citizens who have been denied access to health care since 2014. The ban has cost the state $11.5 billion dollars in federal aid. Those are dollars North Carolina taxpayers provide to other states to subsidize their Medicaid expansion.  It is past time to spend those dollars here.
  • Comply, finally, with the 21-year-old state Supreme Court Leandro ruling and fully fund the right that all children have to the “opportunity to receive a sound basic education.” This is state government’s responsibility. It has been shirked for too long.
  • Enact a non-partisan system for drawing congressional, state legislative and judicial districts. Republicans have managed to run out the clock to maintain, for the most part, the illegal gerrymandered districts through an entire census cycle. Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court might rule, when the next redistricting process starts, have in place a process that has as its main priority assuring ALL the state’s residents – not just a favored political party or demographic -- have a voice in Congress, the General Assembly and fair justice in our courts.
  • Rescind the latest, unnecessary, corporate income tax cuts. Additionally, roll back the tax extensions on sales and services that fall disproportionately on those with the least ability to pay. Businesses don’t need the additional tax breaks and there are critical needs the state has that the money will meet – particularly our underfunded public schools.
  • Bring accountability and transparency to the private school voucher program. In the last four years more than $67.6 million has been distributed to private schools with practically no requirements to show that the money is being spent on classroom needs and student education. There has been no effective process put into place to see if voucher students are actually learning. This is an explosive scandal waiting to blow.

No matter the political affiliation or ideological shade, meeting these needs will provide plenty of accomplishments to boast about. North Carolina will be better for it. Imagine that.

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