North Carolina Senate GOP Targets Children Who Live in Democratic Districts

Lindsay Gibbs

Lindsay Gibbs Reporter, Think Progress

At 3:07 a.m. on Friday morning, North Carolina Senate GOP leaders rushed through a budget amendment that stripped education funding for teaching assistants and STEM programs in districts led by Democrats, cut funding to provide fresh produce to food deserts, reallocated money that was supposed to go to an arts museum and a downtown revitalization project, and eliminated a position that works to secure federal aid for disaster relief.

It appears the amendment wasn’t passed to achieve specific policy goals though, but rather as an act of political retribution after a prolonged and contentious budget negotiation in the state’s senate.

As Thursday night ticked into Friday morning, the two parties seemed deadlocked — every time Democrats would file an amendment to fund their initiatives, Republicans would reject it, and Democrats would introduce another amendment.

But at 1:00 a.m. on Friday morning, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon called a recess and met with other GOP leaders behind closed doors. As reported by the News & Observer, Democrats passed the time with an “impromptu dance party” in the hall.

The dancing Democrats didn’t see what was coming next, according to Colin Campbell,

The session finally resumed around 3 a.m., and Republican Sen. Brent Jackson introduced a new budget amendment that he explained would fund more pilot programs combating the opioid epidemic. He cited “a great deal of discussion” about the need for more opioid treatment funding.
Jackson didn’t mention where the additional $1 million would come from: directly from education programs in Senate Democrats’ districts and other initiatives the minority party sought.

Senators weren’t given adequate time to read through the revised budget — a vote was called within minutes, and thanks the supermajority held by Republicans, it passed. The budget now goes to the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a supermajority as well.

A rural district in northeastern North Carolina, represented by Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D), is impacted the most by this amendment. The budget would strip $316,646 in funding away from two early college high schools in her district, and prohibits state funding for Eastern North Carolina STEM, a summer program for science, math, and technology. The program primarily serves African-American students from low-income families, and Smith-Ingram said that if the amendment is included in the final budget, it will effectively shut down the STEM program.

“I don’t know what motivated the amendment, but it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering,” Smith-Ingram told the News & Record. “The future of children should not be caught up in a political disagreement between members.”

The amendment also reallocates funding for a program that offers stipends to teachers assistants if they are working towards their college degree and teaching licenses. As a result, the program will no longer be available to residents of seven counties represented by Democratic Senators Smith-Ingram and Angela Bryant. Instead, it will only be available to residents in counties represented by Republican senators.

Additionally, the amendment removes $200,000 to bring fresh produce to food deserts, $250,000 for additional staff to accommodate an expansion at the N.C. Museum of Art, and $550,000 for downtown revitalization projects — the only remaining funding for downtown improvement programs is in Robeson County, which, you guessed it, is represented by a Republican in the state senate.

This ugly amendment is just another example of the highly partisan nature of politics in the state legislature.

Smith-Ingram is holding out hope that there can be another vote on the amendment in the senate due to the questionable procedural practices.

“Procedurally, it appears that there is enough in our rules to come back and reconsider that amendment,” Smith-Ingram said. “I’m willing and I’m open to continuing to negotiate with the majority to make sure we right this wrong that occurred.”

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Reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work