Making Democracy Work

A Call to Action

How can I get involved in my community?

Education Action Team Statement

Tom Bowers of the Education Action Team provided the following statement regarding the CMS Budget before the Mecklenburg County Commission meeting:

We appreciate the important synergy that exists between CMS, who develop and present a strong budget plan and the Commission, which must ensure careful oversight of the CMS budget. It is clear that both groups take their responsibilities seriously and conduct themselves with integrity and mutual respect.

The League of Women Voters has always supported strong public education. Our Charlotte-Mecklenburg League has been closely following the new CMS student assignment plan and bond referendum. We witness the educational challenges our community faces and the great legacy and successes we enjoy.

Members of the League urge your full support for the bond issue to build, replace and renovate much needed schools throughout the county because it will provide facilities that now serve almost twice the students for which a building was built. This results in aging mobile units, overburdened cafeterias, inadequate restrooms and no space for special classes.

These capital expenditures will also expand access to the district's planned magnet programs.

The League strongly urges you to approve the proposed expenditure to wipe out the waiting list of four and five-year-olds for the child care subsidy program. Study after study confirms the value of pre-K education for all children. You will recall that the Opportunity Task Force said,

"A child's earliest years have a profound and often lasting impact on his or her school success, career success, and adult life. Early care and education in particular pose opportunities for substantial long-term benefits to both children and the general public."

Chicago and Michigan studies* show that investments in early education return $7 to $16 for every dollar spent by reducing costs of remedial education, criminal justice, and welfare while increasing worker skills, income levels and economic productivity,

The budget proposal for early childhood education to serve all four and five-year-olds is a welcome start, and we urge your approval.

Important funding is still needed to complete the CMS plan for meeting the social and emotional needs of our students. $4.5 million is requested to provide an additional 42 counselors, 6 psychologists and 12 social workers. Physical and social needs must be met before a teacher can teach and a child can learn.

A caring community funds that commitment. We trust that as caring stewards you will support these vital programs that build the foundation for all of our futures. Thank You all!

  • The Chicago Child Parent Centers (CPCs) were similar to current state Pre-K programs in design and cost. The Chicago Longitudinal Study reported a $7.14 to $1 benefit-cost ratio. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program that operated in the Ypsilanti, Michigan school district has been estimated to have a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 over 40 years.

LWVNC Redistricting Action Team issues latest update

Fair Elections Update is now available regarding Nonpartisan Redistricting Reform. You can read the update here: LWVNC Redistricting Update

LWVCM Redistricting Action Team Organized

The LWVCM supported an Action Team focused on promoting non-partisan redistricting of legislative and congressional districts. The result is an energized Gerrymandering Team. Chair, Barbara Bleisweis reports the group outlined a starting point for the group:

1. Develop branding strategy and slogan upon which to base the Committee messaging.
2. Frequent and consistent messaging to the NC General Assembly House and Senate representatives.
3. A plan to attract millenials to the team.
4. Identify key issues that span party lines and humanize the concept of gerrymandering.
5. Research the economic cost of gerrymandering for NC citizens.

If you are interested in joining the Team contact Barbara at barbarableisweis@yahoo.com

LWVNC Open Letter to Governor McCory about NC Supreme Court

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina published an open letter to Governor Pat McCory, copied Senator Pro Tem Phil Berger and NC House Speaker, Tim Moore.

Dear Governor McCrory,

Thank you for your service as North Carolina's Governor the past four years. The special legislative session you are calling to address the damages of Hurricane Matthew and the recent wildfires in western NC is laudable.

However, news media are reporting that you and the legislature are considering using this opportunity to appoint two additional justices to the NC Supreme Court. The League of Women Voters of NC strongly opposes this action, one that will subvert the will of the people by overriding the November 8, 2016, election outcome and changing the balance of the NC Supreme Court for political purposes.

In the past the Courts have been expanded in response to an increased workload. Today, no such justification exists. According to the most recent NC state appellate court Statistical and Operation Report there has been no significant increase in the Court's workload over the past ten years.

Without an increased workload, the expansion of the Court by appointing unelected justices is telling the people of NC that you and the legislature believe our judiciary cannot and should not be trusted to be impartial and independent and that a Justice's ideology overrules the rule of law. Without faith in our impartial and independent judiciary, our society will no longer be able to function under the rule of law. That will undermine the very foundation of civil society itself, including our democracy.

Throughout our 96-year history, the League of Women Voters has stood for representative government and the right of every citizen to participate in democracy by voting. This depends completely on the integrity of the vote. The people of NC spoke on November 8th; not everyone agrees with the outcome of every race but it is the will of the people in the greatest democracy on earth. Expanding the court with unelected Justices right after an election and so close to the end of the session with no evidence of an increased workload to justify the expansion is a direct assault on the outcome of the election and on the power and integrity of the vote.

The League of Women Voters establishes its principles and public policy positions only after thorough study and consensus. One of our basic principles states that "The League of Women Voters believes that responsible government should be responsive to the will of the people." This is what we ask of you and the legislators. In your final days as Governor we ask you to safeguard the foundation of our democracy by limiting the mandate of the special session to disaster relief. Do not allow the will of NC voters to be overruled.

Yours sincerely, Willie Taylor and Mary Klenz, Co-Presidents

Click here to read the letter: http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/?u=20a40e4770730d4cfcc20fce2&id=26310f5a7c&e=9327d8d131

LWVNC 2016 ELECTION TOOLKIT

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina 2016 Election Toolkit provides information about issues the LWVNC is focused on related to education and advocacy work. This toolkit offers tools and resources to bring voters what they need.

Understanding the issues is the first step. Casting informed votes is the end goal.

2016 Election Toolkit

Proposed Constitutional Amendment is Bad Revenue Policy

Pat formulas for county-level funding of education and for the state budget could have potentially disastrous results when it comes to bold action to improve education for all students. It wouldn't be possible to fund new initiatives, deal with emergencies or even keep up with population growth.

Most of the County Commission has so far wisely rejected a proposal to set a pat formula for local funds allocated to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

The NC Senate, however, continues to push for a constitutional amendment to set restrictive formulas for income tax rates and budget expenditures. The latest push for an amendment, SB817, caps the income tax rate at 5.5%, leaving out the restrictive expenditure formula found in last year's version, but would have the same effect on the state budget.

Funding--or failure to adequately fund--public education has short and long-term consequences which greatly impact other costs at the state and local level, from social services to public safety. Fiscal responsibility demands that we weigh how failure to educate our most vulnerable four-year-olds impacts future welfare costs. Those governing need to consider how failure to teach our elementary students to read impacts the future prison population.

It is the job of our representatives in the NC Senate and House to do a cost-benefit analysis by evaluating how the use of tax revenue can be used to uplift Mecklenburg and North Carolina in the long-term. We need thoughtful representatives, not illusive formulas that can be used as political cover for not doing the right thing.

Formulas do not adjust to real circumstances. Aging buildings, unbridled growth, an increasing number of high-needs students are real problems that must be addressed now, or more students will suffer and fail. Post-recession adjustments have not been made to education funding so the state will continue to fall behind. We can no longer compete for teachers with neighboring South Carolina. Yet the state provides less per-pupil funding than before the recession.

The Constitution mandates a "sound public education" but the Legislature seems focused on using education money to expand the program of vouchers for private schools and to increase for-profit charter schools. Under pat formulas for taxing and expenditures, the public schools will lose out.

The League of Women Voters believes that formulas should not replace leadership. Instead, we call on our elected representatives to lead by creating thoughtful solutions to difficult problems to meet our Constitutional and moral commitment to our children.

Medicaid Expansion

North Carolina's current Medicaid program covers only 30% of low income North Carolinians. This leaves 300,00-500,000 people in NC "In the Coverage Gap" which means they are too poor to qualify for subsidies on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace but do not fit into one of the limited eligibility categories for NC Medicaid. Being desperately poor isn't enough in NC to get health coverage. We need to change this. Join us in our Close the Coverage Gap Campaign! Opportunities for advocacy include:

  • Contact Governor Cooper and request that NC expand Medicaid. (919) 814-2000

  • Write your state representative and senator. Updated talking points will be available soon.

  • Help organize an informational session with community groups.

  • Give a presentation to your faith, neighborhood, or work networks.

  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

2013 NC Voting Law Summary

In the last 72 hours of the 2013 General Assembly, NC legislators passed a 56-page bill that changed how, when, and where voters can cast ballots and also changes the limits and disclosure requirements for political donors.

The law was struck down as unconstitutional by the US Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court denied Governor McCory's request to stay the decision pending appeal. Voting for 2016 election will follow the pre-2013 law.

Click on the title, 2013 VOTING LAW, to read a summary of the voting law changes.