Rep. Kelly Alexander represents District 107 in Mecklenburg County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
By the time you read this, I will have voted in favor of the long overdue state budget for 2021-22. While I have reservations about the GOP’s attempts to limit the governor’s powers during emergencies — clearly a partisan move — as well as the lack of Medicare expansion, I also know that the General Assembly we have now would likely pass this budget with or without the governor’s consent.
My biggest concern is getting our government up and running again, and ensuring our crucial state government workers get paid, especially teachers.
Included in this budget is:
- a 5% raise over the next two years for all state employees, as well as crucial $1,000 bonuses for our teachers
- $6 billion to improve our higher education facilities across the state, including community colleges
- $1 billion for broadband expansion
- $15/hour minimum wage for all employees of public schools and community colleges starting in 2022-23
These projects and initiatives are just a few of those that will receive vital funding. In addition, there is some tax relief, including increasing those who qualify for the zero-tax bracket and an increase in the child tax deduction.
While we could not stop the GOP’s plan to eliminate corporate tax, it has been delayed until 2025 — hopefully giving us valuable time to elect a legislature that more fully represents the wishes of all North Carolinians, not just the wealthy and privileged.
I won’t sugarcoat it, friends: the road ahead will be tough. Despite recent rulings against their discriminatory gerrymandering, the GOP has just released new district lines designed to dilute the voting power of anyone who disagrees with their policies and perspectives. We have to push back against this clear attempt to disenfranchise people rather than letting democracy run its course.
There are reasons to hope, though, including the recent order by Superior Court Judge David Lee for the state to stop dithering in regards to the Leandro case — 27 years old now! — and provide $1.7 billion in funds for public education. The GOP has already labeled this order a “circus,” but I think we know who’s really clowning around in this situation: the legislators who actively support an unequal, inequitable public school system.