John Nash: Politics before people

June 3, 2014 

Regarding the May 31 news article “ Senate OKs $21.2B budget”: The article did a good job of outlining the Senate’s politics-first, fast-track approach to the budget: no public hearings or subcommittee meetings, outlining the “shell game” of teacher raises and a few of the many proposed cuts to an already fragile Medicaid program. But the article didn’t go far enough.

These public servants have put politics before good policy, let alone people. The Senate budget perpetuated a false narrative: Teachers’ pay is too low because Medicaid is too expensive. Since when must North Carolinians choose between good health and quality education?

Neither the budget nor this article mentioned the $445 million gorilla in the room: The General Assembly’s massive change to the state’s tax code created a revenue hole over six times greater than the Medicaid shortfall.

I agree with the Senate on one point. Consistently underfunding programs and salaries creates instability and signals qualified professionals to look elsewhere for work. While the Senate spotlights teachers’ pay ranking the fourth-lowest nationwide, its proposal to weaken an already fragile program like Medicaid and reduce services to aged, blind and disabled North Carolinians as a way to prop up an equally underfunded and neglected program shows little long-term vision.

John Nash

Executive director, The Arc of North Carolina, Raleigh

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