From: "Rep. George Graham" <George.Graham@ncleg.net>
Date: Feb 7, 2014 8:38 AM
Subject: News from around the State....from the Office of Representative George W. Graham, Jr.
To: "Beverlee Baker (Rep. George Graham)" <Grahamgla@ncleg.net>
News from around the State....
Two new studies released this week by separate entities have revealed that the Medicaid-opt out are costing NC. The first, conducted by tax firm Jackson Hewitt, says that the uninsured caught in the hole thanks to the opt out will take between $80-120 million right out of the state’s economy. Even more distressing, an analysis conducted by Harvard University and City University of New York say that the refusal to expand could cost anywhere from 455 to 1,145 lives in North Carolina. The costs of refusing the expansion aren’t just theoretical and economic—they are very real and tragic, potentially for hundreds across the state. It is necessary to continue demand that North Carolina accepts the expanded Medicaid funding, and for the state to do all it can to prevent these alarming predictions from becoming a harsh reality.
Although the North Carolina unemployment rate has fallen considerably, the reason behind it is not encouraging. The NC labor force is shrinking by the thousands, which has disastrous effects across the economy as a whole. Despite this fact, the current Administration refuses to accurately pay unemployment benefits to workers, in a similar fashion to the way it delayed NCTracks payments. For perspective, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was able to cut the SNAP backlog in half within a matter of days—but only after repeated threats of funding cuts from the USDA. It is unfortunate that funding cuts, rather than the well-being of North Carolinians, is the incentive that had to drive DHHS to carry out its duties to the citizens of the state. DHHS must work on fixing all of the complications and problems in the agency, not just those directly attached to federal funds.
More updates. . . .
Two studies out this month say turning down the federal Medicaid expansion could cost North Carolina the lives of hundreds of low-income uninsured people per year and leave businesses on the hook for tens of millions of dollars annually in tax penalties, beginning in 2015. In the 25 states that have opted out of Medicaid expansion, low-income workers between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level who would have been eligible for free coverage will now have to buy their own insurance. Each of those workers can also claim the tax credit to offset his or her premium, triggering an additional $2,000 penalty for his or her employer.
North Carolina cut jobless benefits in mid-2013, and its unemployment rate fell faster last year than any state in the nation. Should the rest of the country follow its lead? It’s not that simple. The unemployment rate in North Carolina, like the nation as a whole, mainly fell because more people dropped out of the labor force. In other words, they stopped looking for work. A different federal survey that interviews households instead of businesses found the size of North Carolina’s labor force shrunk by 111,000 in 2013.
Despite falling unemployment rates, most of North Carolina’s metro areas are still waiting for meaningful job creation, according to new numbers released Wednesday by the Division of Employment Security. In 11 of 14 of the state’s metro areas, the drop in the unemployment rate between December 2012 and December 2013 was driven by a shrinking labor force and not by large-scale employment growth. In 10 metros areas, more jobs were created from December 2011 to December 2012 than from December 2012 to 2013.
This Saturday’s Moral March on Raleigh (also known as the “Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly” or “HKonJ”) is the eighth such event to take place since the movement was formally launched in February of 2007. Coming, as it does, on the heels of last year’s groundbreaking and nationally acclaimed Moral Mondays protests, it is also all but certain to be the largest and most important march yet.
There are dozens of excellent reasons to attend, but here are eight – four “big picture” reasons and four more practical, down-to-earth ones – that explain why it is essential for you to be a vocal and active participant
North Carolina-based Duke Energy says it is working “closely” with local, state and federal authorities, as it attempts to manage a major release of coal ash into the state's Dan River. According to a company press statement, a large storm pipe under an ash basin at a closed coal plant broke on Sunday, releasing an estimated 50,000 to 82,000 tons of ash, as well as up to 27 million gallons of polluted “basin water” into the river.
After North Carolina Republicans reclaimed control of the General Assembly in 2010, they got right to work tackling culture-war issues Democratic lawmakers had previously rejected. Near the top of the list: requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before terminating a pregnancy. At the time, then-Gov. Bev Perdue (D) vetoed the bill, but the GOP-led legislature overrode the veto in July 2011, passing the measure into law. Late Friday afternoon, however, as Raleigh’s News & Observer reported, the proposal ran into trouble in the courts.
When it comes to educating our children, the public is pretty clear in understanding you get what you pay for. In a recent poll released by High Point University, 72% of respondents said they would favor a tax increase to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average. These results are similar to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in November which revealed that 68% of North Carolinians opposed cutting funding for public schools to provide taxpayers a tax cut. Despite North Carolinians’ willingness to pay to ensure adequate funding of our public schools so that children can be better prepared for a 21st century economy, legislators moved in the opposite direction this past legislative session
The 2012 Democratic National Convention had the highest economic impact of any event in Charlotte history. City leaders hired a company last year to study the convention's economic impact. That study was released on Monday afternoon. The study says the Democratic National Convention generated $163 million in economic development across the six counties taken into account: Anson, Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Union and York.
I welcome your comments and concerns. Please continue to send me your input and ideas. I look forward to reading them and will continue to do my best to represent you well.
Enjoy the weekend,
Representative George W. Graham, Jr.
N.C. House of Representatives
District 12 (Craven, Greene, Lenoir)
1317 Legislative Building
16 W. Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601-1096