On February 11th, we went to the Historic Thousands on Jones Street rally in Raleigh to talk with jobless workers about their experiences with unemployment insurance. We met a man named George Jeeter, who lost everything in the recession.
Over the past several decades, North Carolina's leaders have made many wise investments to improve the quality of life for North Carolinians. The questions now is whether or not our current crop of elected officials will choose embrace these commitments or retreat from them.
All children in North Carolina deserve the opportunity to get a sound, basic education. That’s why we created three schools that provide specialized education, work training and life skills to deaf and blind children across the state. Unfortunately, the legislature passed a budget in 2011 that requires the Department of Public Instruction to close one of these three schools by 2012.
As with hundreds of conservation projects across the state, the project to protect the Longleaf Pines of the Uwharrie region is awaiting funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Unfortunately, the NC Legislature eliminated the vast majority of funding for conservation projects in the state budget, leaving the future of the Uwharrie and other pristine areas in question.
Teachers assistants deliver invaluable support in the classroom by providing individualized attention to students, monitoring student behavior, and sometimes even driving the bus to school. Unfortunately, the NC General Assembly recently cut over $450 million from our public school system, which will cost thousands of teachers assistants their jobs and deprive children from the education they deserve.
Community colleges have been a lifeline for workers to update training and retool skills for new jobs during the recession. After adding the equivalent of the entire NCSU student body in enrollment, NC’s 58 community colleges face deep funding cuts in the current proposed budget—in addition to stark reductions over the past two years. If we continue down this path, community college may cease to be an option for many North Carolinians.
Each year, programs like Teens Making a Change (TMAC) help thousands of kids like William get their lives back on track. Unfortunately, with legislators considering multi-million dollar cuts to our state-funded mental health and juvenile justice programs, there might not be as many places for North Carolina's young people to turn.
There are over 5,600 licensed speech therapists in North Carolina who work with children and adults to help them with issues ranging from swallowing food to overcoming a stutter. With legislators proposing hundreds of millions of dollars to cuts in Medicaid, it’s unclear how many of North Carolina’s speech therapists will be able to stay in business.
The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation—our children. Critical services for ensuring North Carolina’s future success like those provided through Wake County Smart Start at the Lucy Daniels Center are at risk because legislators are currently considering millions of dollars in cuts to Smart Start and another award-winning early childhood program More at Four.
North Carolina’s school nurses provide a range of services, including health screening, emergency care, health counseling and treatment for chronic health conditions. And with state legislators considering millions of dollars in cuts to public education and public health, North Carolina is in jeopardy of losing hundreds of school nurses.