Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NC Moral Monday rally takes aim at voter, education policies

Police arrested 73 protesters at the 12th Moral Monday rally held at the Statehouse in Raleigh, N.C.  last night. Demonstrators railed against voter suppression legislation and the proposed state budget, both of which will be considered by the GOP-controlled Legislature this week.

Protesters sit-in during Moral Monday rally. 
Thus far, 925 people have been arrested standing up to Gov. Pat McCrory and his cronies who would sock it to working families to benefit big business. The Legislature is considering measures that would limit the rights of voters, slash education spending to the bone and make regular people pay more so corporations can get tax breaks.

Police began making arrests after attendees sat on the floor and signaled they were intending to stay overnight. The General Assembly’s police chief then announced the building was closed and gave demonstrators five minutes to leave. Lawmakers, who usually meet Monday evening, moved up their schedule and were not present when the announcement was made about 7:15 p.m.

This week is a busy one at the Statehouse, as lawmakers are scheduled to wrap up their work for the year. Senate leaders announced they will begin marking up a voter repression bill in committee today, and released an amended version of the legislation that will be considered. We wrote about the original version of the bill last week.

State Sen. Josh Stein on his Facebook page described the latest 57-page bill as a “monstrosity,” noting it shortens early voting by one week; eliminates same-day voting and provisional voting; purges voter rolls more often and prevents counties extending poll hours due to lengthy lines:
Meanwhile, it floods the democratic process with more money. The bill makes it easier for outside groups to spend on electioneering and reduces disclosure of the sources. It also raises the contribution limits to $5000 per person per election from $4000 and indexes the amount to rise with inflation.
The state budget proposal will also be considered beginning today. On the education front, it phases out tenure for teachers as well as higher pay for  those with master’s degrees. The budget also axes 3,850 teacher assistant positions statewide.
Educators like Lindsay Kosmala Furst said she may have to leave the profession in order to provide for her family. As it stands, her two young daughters qualify for Medicaid due to her low pay as a Buncombe County high school English teacher: 
We never wanted to live in luxury. We did, however, hope to be able to take our little girls for an ice cream or not wonder where we will find the gas money to visit their grandparents.
North Carolinians have state budget director Art Pope to thank for this dismal funding bill. Pope, an ALEC disciple and top fundraiser for Gov. McCrory and state Republicans, got where he is today by filling his favorite politicians’ pockets with cash. Now working and middle class families are paying the price.

More to come …