Over 50 local residents attended to raise concerns and hear from their representatives.
LUMBERTON, N.C. — Last night, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) hosted a town hall in Lumberton, N.C. with North Carolina Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue, House Democratic Whip Garland Pierce, and Rep. Charles Graham focused on policies to create a strong public education system, improve access to affordable health care, and an economy that works for everyone. Over 50 local residents attended. North Carolina’s 2018 legislative session begins May 16.
Due to planned school closures next week across the state, education was top of mind for many in the room, which included a handful of current or retired teachers. North Carolina is 39th in the nation in per pupil spending – we are still spending almost 10% less than we did pre-recession. Schools have lost almost 7,500 teaching assistants in the past 10 years. And, teacher pay still trails most other states. Questions posed to the lawmakers focused on how to grow the local economy, why the legislature hasn’t moved to expand Medicaid, and the need for more investment in our education system and our infrastructure.
“We have to be more focused on what we do on education if we want to remain a competitive state.” said Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake. “We want to build and fund the best education system we can. What better time to build schools in Robeson County? We need them.”
“What do we want to achieve for Robeson County workers?” asked House Democratic Whip Garland Pierce, D-Scotland. “Create an economy that works for everyone. Equal pay for equal work. Job training and retention programs. Ensure workers get the wages they earn and deserve. And ensure people earn a living wage for their community. That’s so important.”
Rep. Charles Graham, D- Robeson said, “Economic development is having a good, strong education system. We need to expand Medicaid – we have too many who are going without. We’re seeing other states benefit from leaders taking that step to accept federal funds. It’s our money – we paid into it. Let’s invest it in our people.”
The town hall was sponsored by the State Innovation Exchange and open to the public and members of the press.