Editorial: Legislators - Drop hyper-partisanship and pass agenda NC wants and needs

Posted January 25, 2017 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2017 6:51 p.m. EST

General Assembly opens 2017 session

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017; Editorial# 8115
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It’s been two weeks since the General Assembly opened its 2017 legislative session. There have been no bills filed and none passed. The two-week interlude between the ceremonial opening has provided time for the legislative leaders to organize committees and formalize procedures.

While it wouldn’t be prudent, neither would it be a surprise if the GOP-dominated legislature ignored whatever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper might submit and started on its own crafting a budget and developing programs.

There are some important issues, strongly supported by a majority of North Carolinians, that are critical to the well-being of the state. They need to be considered and acted upon by the legislature this session.

We believe the General Assembly should:

  • Expand Medicaid to provide health care to 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians. It is the right thing to do, the federal government is committed to paying 90 percent of the costs. It will create thousands of jobs, help keep rural hospitals open and inject about $3 billion into the North Carolina economy.
  • Repeal House Bill 2. This is an ideological luxury North Carolina cannot afford and it hurts our state. Charlotte has repealed its ordinance. Bring it to a simple up-or-down vote in the Senate and House and be done with it.
  • Pay teachers and principals more. Develop the proposal openly, with hearings and public committee meetings and don’t hide it in the budget and spring it on the public in the closing moments of the legislative session. North Carolina teacher pay, NOT INCLUDING LOCAL SUPPLEMENTS, should be at least at the national average. Our teachers and students deserve nothing less.
  • Expand pre-K education statewide.
  • Reestablish the Teaching Fellows Program. Repairing the pipeline to encourage the most promising students to become teachers is critical to providing a quality education for our students – and a key component to making North Carolina competitive for economic development.
  • Require accountability and transparency for the operation of charter schools and in the private school voucher program. Charter schools and private schools that receive voucher funds should disclose business operation details and salaries of faculty and administrators – along with student performance data.
  • Enact non-partisan congressional and legislative redistricting to bring gerrymandering to an end. While a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals order may be on hold, other active cases making their way in the courts could force the state’s hand. The legislature should seize the opportunity on its own to create a redistricting commission that would take objective criteria that meets federal voting requirements to give all North Carolinians fair representation in the U.S. House of Representative and General Assembly.
  • Embrace the expansion of renewable energy – including solar, wind and alternative fuels – to provide appropriate support to one of the state’s fastest expanding economic sectors. Reviving the state’s renewable energy development tax credits would help continue the momentum of an industry that created 34,000 jobs last year and generated $6.4 billion in revenue.
  • Conduct business in a more open and deliberate manner. Legislating by sneak attack, holding nearly every significant initiative in secret and packing it all into a budget bill considered in the closing hours of the legislative session is unjust.

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