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Go Ask Mom

MomsRising: Moving forward after a budget battle

Posted July 5, 2011 8:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 6, 2011 8:59 p.m. EDT

A few weeks ago, I sat on my couch as midnight approached, curled up in my pajamas and checking Facebook. I’m the first to admit that this wasn’t the first time I’ve been caught on Facebook in the middle of the night, but this time was different.

I was watching my newsfeed intently for confirmation that the N.C. General Assembly had really chosen to go into session in the middle of the night to override Governor Perdue’s veto of a budget that is going to be devastating for NC’s children and families.

As those watching from the balcony of the legislative chamber began to post confirmation, I sat on my couch and cried. I cried in frustration, anger, and sadness. I cried for the at-risk children who will no longer be able to participate in the quality early learning programs offered by More at Four. I cried for the dedicated teachers’ assistants, the police officers, the early intervention specialists, and many more who will lose their jobs as a result of this budget. I cried for the families struggling with health problems as Medicaid suffered deep cuts. I cried for our state that literally saw decades of progress wiped out in the middle of the night.

I cried because in the past few years I have come to believe that the maternal is political. The fate of my children and my family cannot be separated from the fate of other children and families. As a mother, I feel a deep responsibility not only to care, but to act.

We at MomsRising had worked tirelessly over the last few months with our partners to make sure that the voices of parents were heard in the budget debate. But this time it wasn’t enough.

Only 23 percent of the public supports the budget, according to a June poll by Public Policy Polling, and yet they moved forward with the override vote in the dead of night with essentially no debate.

But we’re not done. As I tell my kids, when you get knocked down you have to dust yourself off and get back up.

Over the next few months as the full impact of these budgets begins to be felt, we will be collecting stories of how N.C. families’ lives have changed because of the budget. We will continue to make sure our legislators know that we expected more from them.

And we will continue to ensure that moms have opportunities to make your voice heard on this and other issues important to NC families.

This has been a bad legislative session for North Carolina’s families, but there’s still much that we can do to make North Carolina a better place for NC children and families. We’d love to have you join us! Visit us at www.momsrising.org.

Beth Messersmith is a Durham mother of two and member of NC MomsRising. MomsRising members write monthly on Go Ask Mom.