It's time to move mountains
We need leadership in the General Assembly that represents Appalachian values.
Access to quality, affordable healthcare for North Carolinians is not a privilege – it is a basic right. As a state and nation we should be working to ensure that all citizens are healthy and do not sacrifice their physical and mental health due to overwhelming costs; especially those who need us the most.
The expansion of Medicaid would bring $13 billion in federal funding and would expand coverage to more than 400,000 North Carolinians, including 95,000 children. This is a straightforward way to extend coverage, lower costs, and improve the quality of care. I support Governor Cooper’s compromise of including a work requirement for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid under an agreement for expansion.
The Governor has submitted a budget that will expand Medicaid to cover 670,000 North Carolinians and inject $4 billion in our economy at no additional cost to the state. It adds more than $9 million to increase community mental health funding and treatment to combat the opioid crisis.
Incentives for Small Businesses
By offering tax credits to small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees, owners can benefit from increased productivity and relief from the rising costs of policies and premiums. This is an inventive way to reward Main Street businesses for choosing to help create a healthy workforce.
Children and Rural Communities
North Carolina must continue to advocate for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides necessary medical and dental services to 235,000 children in NC, ensuring that they can live healthy lives.
By providing funding for community health centers and non-profits that serve low income/rural communities, NC can make an investment in local activism that directly reaches the unique needs of our diverse communities. Supporting homegrown solutions to localized issues is an efficient and focused use of our resources.
Opioid Crisis and Cannabis
Addiction to prescription medications and opiates has created a health epidemic in our state that is filling our prisons and devastating families and communities. Pharmaceutical companies are showing record profits by creating lifelong patients through addiction.
80% of North Carolinians favor the legalization of medical cannabis for patients over 18 to treat: Cancer, chronic and debilitating diseases, and other serious medical conditions. Medical cannabis has been proven to lower addiction to pharmaceuticals, boost state and local economies, and should be a viable option for patients and health care providers.
North Carolina’s public schools serve more than 1.5 million students daily, and are the foundation for our future prosperity. Tim and his wife, Angel, have taught in NC public schools for 17 years, and believe every child deserves access to a high quality education that reaches them as people and prepares them for an ever-changing world.
In order to avoid a crisis, significant investments in public education must be made and we must end investing in private, for profit schools which will top $1.27 BILLION in the next 10 years, and have no accountability to the people of NC. There should be no extension of corporate tax cuts until NC reaches the national average in teacher pay and per pupil spending.
Tax Fairness for Teachers - Not for Millionaires
NC teachers have faced pay freezes, loss of longevity and Master’s pay, and rising cost of health care with fewer benefits. The North Carolina budget should pay for these raises and instead freeze the Republicans’ additional income tax breaks for large corporations and people making more than $200,000 per year. Education is the foundation of our future, and we simply must invest in it.
NC is facing an impending teacher shortage because we are struggling to attract quality individuals to the profession. Despite rhetoric that leads many to believe we are increasing our investment in teacher salaries, the reality is that teacher pay is still failing to compete with our neighbors and we continue to fall being the National Average.
To attract and retain outstanding teachers NC must offer: a salary at or above the national average, enhanced and protected health insurance and retirement, increased pay for advanced degrees, and employment protection through the reinstatement of career status and guaranteed due process.
Teachers should receive at least a 5% raise this year, with the average being around 8%, including veteran teachers who are continually being left out of the conversation in the NCGA. This puts North Carolina on track to reach the national average in teacher pay by 2021.
Making North Carolina a Top Ten Educated State
Currently, our state sits 39th nationally in per pupil spending leaving our students without the resources they need to be safe, healthy, and successful. We are more than $2400 per student below the national average and are being outpaced by our neighbors in the southeast. NC must commit to increase per pupil spending to the national average within four years and seek to become a Top Ten Educated State by 2025.
We need to add more slots for pre-K, utilize our state-wide budget dollars on textbooks and digital learning tools, and provide educators with a stipend for school supplies rather than expecting them to pay for this personally.
School Safety and Mental Health
The state budget should provide additional funding for personnel in order to keep our schools a safe space for our children. This includes increasing the number of school nurses, social workers, and psychologists to address mental health; after school programs for at-risk youth; hiring only active, certified, highly trained school resource officers and providing training which makes this a reality; and addressing the class size chaos in our schools.
Jobs and wages
It's time that we put the middle, working class families first. We have to stop giving massive income tax handouts to the wealthy and large corporations and taking actions for economic recovery that's only serving those at the very top. Families are struggling to stay ahead. We need to take measures with our budget priorities that ensures all families and communities in Burke County, Western NC, and all of this great state have the opportunity to benefit from our state's success.
A Living Wage
We need a sustainable economy that represents our values, strengthens our communities, and allows hard working people to plan for our future. This includes attracting modern industries, fighting for a living wage, investing in training and education, and offering a level playing field for locally owned businesses.
Green, Renewable Industries
The solar industry and other green technologies offer a promising future for WNC. NC currently ranks #2 in solar production, creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. With growth comes a rising demand for skilled workers in high-paying jobs. By connecting our public schools and community colleges to these industries we can bring prosperity to our region with the quality of our people, not just short term tax incentives that fail to bolster local economies.
Small and Agri-Business
Supporting small businesses and local farms is essential to economic growth. Agricultural products such as Hops, grapes, and hemp have become in high demand due to a remarkable increase in culinary tourism. Offering grants and tax incentives to small business and farmers will rejuvenate our main streets and resurrect and protect our traditional farmlands and preserve our heritage. We need to allocate budget spend on helping to develop economic development sites and recruiting new industries.
Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide
Supporting the growth of our townships is certainly important, but we can’t ignore the urban-rural divide that we’re continually facing, especially in places like Burke County and Western North Carolina. We need to bridge this divide by making sure our rural areas aren’t left behind. High quality rural broadband will go a long way to ensure that both rural households and underserved businesses are connected to the 21st century.
We need to focus on supporting a fair, balanced approach for our entire community, not just silos of development. Tim support measures that will invest significant amounts of our state budget to strengthen rural North Carolina to expand access to broadband and improving our infrastructure – a strong, necessary foundation that will incentivize quality businesses and industries to grow here and provide good jobs. Additional budget allocation should be spent on helping to develop economic development sites and recruiting these new industries.
We have to provide our community with the tools it needs to be successful, and that’s proper training. We firmly support measures such as rebuilding our infrastructure, promoting job training and access to vocational education, and protecting our workers. This will lift up Burke County, Western North Carolina, and the entire state.
We support investing $30 million of our budget to the NC GROW program – free training at community colleges, like Western Piedmont Community College, for high-demand industries. This includes grants to help students on the cusp of graduation facing financial difficulties – a situation all too familiar to our rising generations – to finish their degrees and get good jobs, as well as help employers provide on-the-job training.
LAND, AIR, & WATER
In Western NC we are proud of our wild and natural places. We understand the role they have played in our history, and why it is necessary to protect them for our future. Clean water, open spaces, and healthy communities are the backbone of our economy and culture and conservation must be a priority.
Holding Corporate Polluters Accountable
In recent years, we have witnessed an assault on our environment as a result of regressive environmental policy and staggering contributions to anti-conservation legislators. We must do a better job holding polluters and politicians accountable for the consequences of their actions.
Currently the NC Utilities commission, which protects citizens from Duke Power raising rates that ultimately pay for illegal pollution clean up, does not have a full bench despite high quality nominees put forth by Governor Cooper. This puts consumers and small businesses at risk. Having a full Utilities Commission is essential to fight for accountability.
The economy of Western NC depends greatly on tourism that is rooted in appreciation for the beauty of our mountains, streams and lakes. Without common sense policies that provide long term protection, we face a loss of tourism revenue and put the health of our communities at risk.
As our state continues to grow, we must be forward thinking and provide a dedicated source of revenue that will protect our natural spaces from overdevelopment. Without wild, natural, and open spaces Western NC will lose our deep ties to a heritage of appreciation for the land that provides so much.
Bolstering Solar, Becoming Energy Independent
NC should commit to be 100% energy independent by 2050. The solar industry is growing rapidly, and the technology is becoming more affordable and is creating tens of thousands of jobs in North Carolina. With energy independence comes a cleaner and safer state, and a more prosperous economy.