I believe healthcare is a human right. Unfortunately, far too many people in our state, and country, are effectively left without this fundamental need being met. Even if one has health insurance, premium costs and lackluster coverage stand as barriers to health. It is time North Carolina became a leader in the movement toward universal healthcare coverage. I will fight until every North Carolinian is covered.
Medicaid expansion is a big first step in getting more people in our state covered. This would cover over 500,000 North Carolinians and bring more than $4 billion into our economy. It would also create 40,000 jobs and help to control costs for families across the state that already have private insurance coverage. This is extremely important in the rural district I will represent. Expanding Medicaid would help all of the struggling rural hospitals in our state, including those here in Eastern North Carolina. Psychological health is also a personal focus for my campaign. Expanding Medicaid would help increase access to psychotherapy and mental health crisis intervention services. Included in mental health services is substance abuse counseling, which has become more important than ever given the recent opioid epidemic.
Once 500,000 more North Carolina residents are covered by expanding Medicaid, we need to set a goal of getting everyone else covered. I would consult with experts to find the best path forward to meeting the goal of universal coverage. Whether that is a public option, single payer system, or some other solution, it is paramount to all North Carolinians we meet that goal.
In North Carolina we have a constitutional mandate that our students receive a “sound, basic education (Leandro vs. State of North Carolina)”. We are currently failing to live up to that standard. Significant reforms are needed to propel our public schools to be a beacon of light for the rest of the country to aspire to. Our children deserve better than a below average education. Our society is only as strong as our education systems allow it to be. We need a well-educated populace for a strong future in our local communities, state, nation, and world. As an educator myself, I value public education and will do everything I can to make a world-class education a reality for all North Carolinians.
In order to meet the Leandro constitutional mandate, we first must significantly increase our funding for North Carolina students. North Carolina ranks 39th in the country in per-pupil funding, more than $2,300 per student behind the national average. This is unacceptable.
For our students to get the best education they also need excellent teachers. North Carolina is failing to treat our teachers and other public school support staff as the essential professionals they are. Our public school employees need significant raises. North Carolina ranks 37th in average teacher pay, more than $9,600 behind the national average. This will not bring the best teachers and support staff to our North Carolina schools, nor will it retain the excellent teachers we already have.
Students need a conducive environment for learning to be possible. Many of our crumbling schools and large class sizes are missing the mark for that environment. We need a Statewide School Construction Bond so we can fix the buildings that are falling apart, and to create the proper space for smaller class sizes so our children get the best connection to their teachers.
We cannot forget those that support our teachers either. Teaching assistants, bus drivers, school nutrition staff, secretaries, and custodial staff are all necessary supports so our children can get the best education possible. All public school employees deserve a living wage. $15/hr. for all employees would be a start to helping these essential professionals come to work happier and healthier. This could only benefit our students.
Lastly, an issue in public education that is near and dear to my heart: We must do better funding our Community Colleges. Access to higher education is the lifeblood of our future economy and creates a well rounded citizenry. North Carolina has not given any state employees significant raises to keep up with cost of living over the last decade-plus. It is time we treated all Community College faculty and staff like the essential professionals they are.
I am the candidate that will champion our public education systems in North Carolina and give our children the best education in the country. That is my goal, and I will fight until we reach the summit.
There is no more important right in a democracy than our right to vote. Sadly, the voices of so many in North Carolina have been silenced by voter suppression tactics and gerrymandered districts. It should be significantly easier to vote in this country and state so the people can be heard. More people active in the voting process strengthens our shared representation in Raleigh and beyond. Let’s make it so all of our voices are heard, not just the powerful few.
First, we must elect Democrats like myself in 2020, because it is a census year. The state legislature elected this November will make the decisions on who draws the district maps for the next ten years. We saw the mess of gerrymandering that the Republican wave of 2010 brought to North Carolina. The people should choose their representatives, representatives should not choose their voters. That is why I, and other Democrats, have suggested that we create an independent non-partisan redistricting commission. It is wrong when any party uses its majority in the General Assembly to entrench their representatives in perpetually safe districts. Gerrymandering must end.
Second, we have to make it significantly easier to vote. Expansion of early and mail-in absentee voting, automatic voter registration (AVR), making election day a holiday, and the repeal of voter suppression tactics (like voter ID laws and shutting down voting precincts in underrepresented areas) is paramount for North Carolina. Democracy dies when the right to vote is taken away.
Lastly, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, we must make sure that all North Carolinians have a safe option to vote in November. Expanding mail-in balloting and early voting days/times would be big first steps in allowing more people to safely engage in their civic duty to vote. Even when there is no danger in going to the polls, more access to voting is a good thing. We need to make this happen in North Carolina.
Far too many Americans have been left behind. It’s time we created a society that cares about all of us, not just a privileged few. It is time to stop catering to the rich corporations as we have over the last forty years. It is time to subsidize and “bail out” the 99%, the rich are doing just fine. Everyone deserves to have a job that pays them a living wage and fuels our economic engine. We all need infrastructure improvements to support a booming society. We must strengthen the social safety net, so when someone falls, they can get a helping hand up again.
We need to return North Carolina to a more progressive tax system, that has been made horribly regressive by regressive politicians over the last decade in this state. A marginal income tax would be an improvement over the current flat income tax we have. Unfortunately, regressive politicians have pushed an amendment to our constitution that caps our tax rates at 7%. Our flexibility is hampered by this amendment, it needs to be repealed. At a minimum, corporate tax rates need to be raised from the lowest in the country (2.9%), to a fairer amount. This would bring much needed revenue to make North Carolina a stronger state by lifting up all of its people with social safety net and infrastructure projects. Certainly, tax cuts can be used as an incentive to bring business to North Carolina, but we need to only help the corporations that help their workers. In order to receive benefits, large corporations would have to employ more workers in our state, pay them a living wage, provide them adequate benefits, invest in their business here in North Carolina, and not buy back stocks and give massive bonuses to executives. It is time we had someone stand up for the workers. I am that candidate.