Lawmakers Call for New Ideas at the North Carolina State Legislature

May 2018

During telephone town hall, lawmakers call attention to four areas where new direction is needed: education, health care, jobs and responsible governance

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. —This Tuesday, during a telephone town hall hosted by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), North Carolina Senate Democratic Whip Terry Van Duyn, Representative John Ager, and Representative Brian Turner discussed their priorities at the state legislature: education, health care, jobs and responsible governance. The call reached 3,900 people with a peak of 800 people on the line at a time.

The call started out with a question on the new legislative platform laid out by progressives this month, which is focused on education, health care, jobs, and a government accountable to the people.

“We want our state to be a leader in education again—that means giving our teachers the respect they deserve, raising their pay back to the national average and giving our schools the resources, textbooks, and supplies they need,” said Senate Democratic Whip Van Duyn.“Our current leadership in the legislature has chosen corporate tax cuts over textbooks and funding for our schools, and that has got to stop.”

There were several questions about the decision by the majority in the legislature to refuse to expand Medicaid.

“Back when I was a kid, my grandma used to say, ‘meanness for the sake of meanness’ and that’s a little bit of what we saw here in North Carolina when Medicaid expansion came up,” said Rep. Turner. “Basically, the majority made a decision based on politics instead of what was best for our state. Now, close to 650,000 North Carolinians are left without access to health care and affordable coverage.”

Questions from residents also focused on the need for more resources for schools, the possibility of gun safety legislation, creating a nonpartisan redistricting process, how funding from the state lottery flows to education, and training for well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

“I am a farmer here in Buncombe county and I know how important it is that we focus on bringing rural people in our state back into the economy,” said Rep. Ager. “We’ve got to listen to people in the rural areas of our state—meaning we’ve got to expand Medicaid to help fight the opioid epidemic and make sure we increase access to vocational education to help workers learn the skills employers need.”

The legislators also discussed the fact that the current legislative leadership is currently attempting to push the state budget through a conference committee report, meaning there would be no committee hearing, opportunity for public input, or opportunity for amendments to make the budget better for working families in North Carolina.

The event was sponsored by the State Innovation Exchange, a national resource and strategy center that supports progressive state legislators.