The governor recently laid out his priorities, but he and his people in the General Assembly need to rethink what they have been doing and look at the signals on how wrong the path is that they are taking in our name.
Two federal courts have struck down bans on gay marriage and another ruled voter ID to be unconstitutional. An N.C. state court just ruled against the new GOP law mandating that women who choose abortion undergo ultrasound. These are the same lawmakers who refused to help North Carolinians obtain the health insurance they need because they said the Affordable Care Act was unwarranted intrusion of government into medical care. But North Carolinians responded by becoming one of the top populations to sign on to Obamacare, with 9 in 10 receiving subsidies to help them pay for it.
The governor should also pay attention to his fellow Republican governors who are choosing to expand Medicaid.
Meanwhile, other states are investing in the future and their economic strength by investing in all levels of education, including providing tuition assistance to undocumented students, allowing immigrants to get driver’s licenses and discouraging the break-up of their families by refusing to abet deportation. Other jurisdictions are raising minimum wages, while this governor and his party have chosen to cut off financial support to long-term unemployed people, deprived many of the working poor of help under the Earned Income Tax Credit and burdened low-income buyers with more regressive sales taxes but cut taxes for the wealthy. North Carolina is distinguished by its high poverty rate, especially among our children, and its low pay for teachers.
The governor’s 2014 priorities and plans of General Assembly leaders have every indication of more of the same – disregarding the ordinary people of the state and hiring private contractors to “solve” problems in ways that are likely to continue to reward friends and privatize public services. If our official leaders continue to fail to lead with foresight and justice for all, then let N.C. voters choose women and men who will.
Nancy Milio, Chapel Hill
The author is professor emeritus of health policy at UNC-CH and a board member of the NC Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students. The length limit was waived.