House Dems: Health budget 'not worthy' of state
House Democrats took aim today at Republican proposals to cut spending on Health and Human Services.Posted — Updated
State House leaders say next week will be almost exclusively devoted to work on their budget proposal, an $18.9M plan that's almost 10% shy of what the state was expected to spend this fiscal year.
Education and health spending make up about 75% of the state's budget, so both are in line for steep cuts. At a press conference today, Democrats said the cuts are too steep, and will gut badly needed services for the state's most vulnerable citizens.
"Terrible, terrible, terrible," warned Minority Leader Joe Hackney, calling the Republican budget plan "not worthy of North Carolina."
Rep. Diane Parfitt, D-Cumberland, said the GOP is specifically targeting Planned Parenthood, which would be barred by name in the House plan from receiving any money from the state, even pass-through federal money that the state manages.
Republicans nationwide have targeted the non-profit provider because it offers abortion services. But Planned Parenthood says the vast majority of its budget goes to routine primary medical care for women who are uninsured and don't qualify for Medicaid.
The state and federal governments in North Carolina contract with Planned Parenthood to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings, teen pregnancy education and teen parenting classes. Those services would end under the House budget.
"Never has North Carolina prohibited a single entity from doing business with the state," Parfitt said. "This is not a budgetary mandate. This is an ideological statement."
But the strongest words of the day fell to Verla Insko, the Chapel Hill Democrat who served several years as the House Democrats' chief Health budget writer.
“I have always thought of North Carolina as being a compassionate people," Insko said. "This is not a compassionate budget. It is essentially an anti-child budget, an anti-woman budget, an anti-poor budget, an anti-disabled budget."
Insko asked Republicans to reconsider a one-year extension of the temporary one-cent sales tax, a move that polls show most North Carolinians of both parties would favor over massive budget cuts. GOP leaders have said they will not extend the tax.
"We don't have to make these cuts," Insko said. "These are choices that we're making."
Watch the whole press conference at right.
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