• 72°

Dan Blue: People’s agenda looms large

By Dan Blue

Legislators have a lot of unfinished business to attend to now that we’ve returned to Raleigh for a special session.

In November, we completed the second-longest legislative session in state history. With 156 legislative days logged in 2019, the General Assembly has little to show for it. We passed a series of mini-budgets, but large portions of the state’s responsibilities remain unresolved.

I look at the state budget as an opportunity to make improvements to our state where they are needed the most. Where are North Carolina’s greatest needs? Educator pay, affordable healthcare, safe drinking water and infrastructure top the list of pressing issues in our state. None of these issues were addressed in the regular legislative session, and it remains unclear what action will be taken.

Local governments are stepping in when they can. But local compensation for state responsibilities has a downside.

Wake and Guilford counties are among the urban counties that have stepped up to give educators a pay raise in the absence of a state pay plan. Rural counties can’t afford to make up the difference. That risks deepening the urban-rural divide across North Carolina.

North Carolina’s $8 billion in school construction needs is based on a 2016 report. Now, four years later, that estimate is conservative at best.

A five-year effort to prep the state for Medicaid transformation has stalled, and 600,000 working North Carolinians have been denied access to affordable insurance through Medicaid expansion.

We receive new reports of contaminated drinking water across our state, while a hollowed out department is left under-staffed and under-funded to protect our taps.

It is highly unlikely that we will be able to act this week on everything that needs our attention. If we can’t pass a budget in 11 months last year, then we won’t do it in special session this week.

Legislators won’t be able to address everything that we need to on behalf of our constituents. But I urge my colleagues to accomplish at least some of the people’s agenda.

Dan Blue is the N.C. Senate minority leader.

Comments

Business

Pandemic inspired creation of Salisbury Dance Academy

Business

Staffing agencies say more jobs available than job seekers

Elections

Political notebook: Heggins calls on U.S. Senate to pass ‘HEROES’ Act

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools to sell old devices for $4.6 million

Education

North Rowan Elementary adds outdoor classroom space as schools cope with COVID-19

Crime

Car chase from Mooresville mobile home, through cornfield produce charges for two

Crime

Blotter: Law enforcement responds to more than 20 vehicles break-ins

Local

Meals on Wheels kicks off August is for AniMEALS campaign

Coronavirus

Salisbury Sheetz temporarily closed after three employees test positive

Ask Us

Ask Us: What was fate of Terrace Theatre’s time capsule?

Local

Strongest quake in a century felt by Salisbury, Rowan residents

Crime

Blotter: Pair charged with prostitution, solicitation

Local

Kannapolis woman killed, others hospitalized after early Sunday crash

News

5.1-magnitude quake hits North Carolina

Health

A symbol of hope: Wallace Cancer Institute opens this week for patients

Lifestyle

Historic Salisbury Foundation’s 2020 OctoberTour to give participants new views into old landmarks

Coronavirus

Pandemic has impacted campaigning efforts for both county Republicans, Democrats

Local

County commissioners will discuss restructuring environmental health department

Business

Kannapolis data shows proof of economic growth

Local

Marriages for April 2020

Education

Bids for Rowan-Salisbury Schools devices tops $4.5 million

Local

April 2020 corporations

Business

Biz roundup: New job retention grants open to North Carolina businesses

Business

Wallace and Graham receive Trial Lawyer of the Year award