A New Deal for a New Reality: Relief, Recovery & Reform

Table of Contents

Summary
Civil Rights / Liberties
Economy and Employment
Education
Elders and Disabled
Electoral Reform / Voter Suppression
Foreign & International Affairs
Government Integrity
Health Care
Immigration
Science/Energy/Environment
Taxation
Women and Families
READ MORE
Economy and Employment
Education
Government Integrity
Science/Energy/Environment

Summary

In this new reality of a pandemic, where disinformation campaigns and political machinations are destroying our democracy, we are focusing the work of the Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party (PCNCDP) to support a New Deal for a New Reality, to ensure that government spending is driven by the needs of the people instead of corporations and special interests. In the COVID-19 era, and beyond, we need Medicare for All to provide healthcare to all, whether employed, unemployed or underemployed. We need a Green New Deal to restructure our economy and to rebuild America and support our people. Our goal is to achieve racial, social and economic justice for the people of North Carolina and the country by fighting concentrations of economic and political power, and the laws and practices that enable them. We are modeling our efforts on the tenets of FDR’s New Deal and his targets of Relief, Recovery, and Reform. 

The Relief, Recovery and Reform programs, known as the ‘Three Rs’, were introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression and have come to be known as the New Deal. In a series of laws and executive orders passed between 1933 and 1938, these actions and reform programs focused on emergency relief programs, emergency employment in government programs, regulating and reforming the banks and the stock market, providing debt relief, increasing and stabilizing agricultural production and income, initiating industrial recovery and introducing public works construction projects. The ‘Three Rs’ programs of the New Deal put the United States on a democratic path out of the Great Depression. 

Unfortunately, at  the time, Roosevelt felt he could not anger the Southern bigots, who were a major part of his political coalition, so African Americans and other minority citizens were excluded from most of the Three Rs programs. We are fully determined that the benefits and assistance of these proposed reforms will be available to all Americans without distinctions.

Our democracy is slipping away, and it is up to all of us to elect public officials who will support our goals. We have the power to achieve justice and equality by running for office, supporting fair elections and progressive Democratic candidates, and by making sure that elected officials, policy makers, media and the public are continually hearing the strong and proud Progressive voices.

As Roosevelt said, “the country needs bold, persistent experimentation …above all, try something”.

Civil Rights/Liberties

Americans — especially the poor, ethnic and racial minorities, the disabled, elders, non-Christians, legal immigrants, non-cisgender people, and women — are losing our rights and liberties. Bias, discrimination and hate crimes must be stopped, and civil liberties and equal protection must be restored and enhanced.

Economy and Employment

The crises created by COVID19 have shown clearly that the policies of deindustrialization and government austerity have destroyed the ability of our society to respond effectively and equitably to national catastrophes and challenges. We must immediately provide medical testing and treatment to every person who needs it. Providing a basic income, without means or employment testing, will help keep our economy alive into a recovery phase, when we can begin to rebuild our economy and industrial base, with a goal of finally fulfilling President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. We believe that implementing a Green New Deal is the best way to create tens of millions of new, productive, well paid jobs and to return Wall Street to its proper role of supporting Main Street, while ending our dependence on fossil fuels and building a future for which our children and grandchildren will thank us.  

Education

Schools are the backbone of our society, and the federal government should supply funding to states to support schools and the changes needed to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. Money allocated by the taxpayers should not go to line the pockets of the wealthy and encourage charter school fraud. NC charter schools have lower accountability standards than public schools, and provide false narratives when suggesting that they have the same or better outcomes as public schools. Charter schools and voucher programs drain resources from public schools, re-segregate schools, exclude minorities and high-cost or challenged students and are only required to have 50% of their teachers certified. Charter and private schools are not required to follow and be held accountable to the NC state required curriculum standards. These efforts have resulted in lower standing for public education and lower student performance over the years.

Electoral Reform/Voter Suppression

COVID-19 will will make it unsafe and unwise for many voters, especially people in high-risk groups, to congregate for in-person voter registration and voting. North Carolina allows no-excuse absentee voting, but requires printing and mailing ballot requests, having 2 witnesses or a notary sign the ballot and providing return postage. County-funded election boards will be unable to afford to satisfy demand for absentee ballots and postage. The solution is immediate funding and implementation of no-excuse, free, no-witness mail-in voting across North Carolina based on the successful experience of Washington, Oregon, and other states. We must start immediately to be ready for the November election.

Elders and the Disabled

Many North Carolinians suffer discrimination and lack of support due to age or disability- and many of these are persons of color and/or living in poverty. Twenty-seven percent of NC residents have a disability and by 2025, 20% of our state will be 65 and older. In the workplace, elders and the disabled, including veterans, must be given equal opportunities and accommodation to be valuable members of the workforce. Caregivers must be paid fairly and trained comprehensively, including family caregivers. Medicare/Medicaid must cover all expenses and be accessible, and include mental health, vision, hearing and dental needs. In order to thrive, our elders and disabled must be empowered, as well as protected from abuse, neglect and discrimination, and treated with compassion and respect.

Foreign & International Affairs

This pandemic shows that what happens in one country can powerfully affect the lives of people in another. We must resist the desire to turn inward and focus only on our own problems, or try to shift blame outwards. While resisting isolationists, we also need to recognize that US security has been weakened, not strengthened, by projecting US military force abroad and US covert and direct interventions. We need to restore the power of international law by ensuring it favors national sovereignty over the demands and profits of global corporations and any single or bloc of hegemonic powers. We need a new era of international relations based on all the world’s nations cooperating to reduce military spending, eliminating all nuclear weapons and shifting their economies to a post-fossil fuel standard of renewable energy and sustainable industry and agriculture. Global trade and economics must be shifted from exploiting unprotected labor to produce cheap consumer goods to national economic development that ensures all nations’ populations have dependable electricity, clean water, sanitation, and public transportation. We want to replace the escalating conflicts over fixed amounts of resources with a Global Green New Deal that requires investing tens of trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of new jobs to create new wealth based on new science and technology that expands the scope of resources and makes their use more efficient and sustainable. 

Government Integrity

We must restore faith in government. “The public’s ire is focused on the electoral system in the U.S. and on Congress — and the way members of the Senate and House do their jobs. About three-quarters (74%) say elected officials don’t “care what people like me think” and “put their own interests first.”  We support getting money out of politics. We support holding special interests accountable, ending the revolving door between the private sector and public service and public financing for federal and state elections – corporations are not people. And we support a constitutional amendment to overturn the wrongly-decided Citizens United

Health Care 

The current pandemic has laid bare the ugly truth about our for-profit health care system in America — that we have health care for those who can afford it, and poor or no care for those who can’t. This disparity has been here all along; it’s just more noticeable now that people are dying quickly and in large numbers from inadequate health care. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected America’s poor, and people of color. Insurance companies, Healthcare Industry CEOs and pharmaceutical companies reap billions while those at the bottom suffer. Those with employer-linked health care have lost their insurance with their jobs.  Now is the time we must provide health care to all.

Immigration 

Our national immigration system is broken. It is a disgrace to warehouse immigrants under harsh conditions in detention facilities and to separate children, especially for families seeking a better life. It is unconscionable to leave millions of immigrants in legal limbo without a clear, simple path to citizenship. We must enact the Dream ACT and the New Way Forward Act.

Science/Energy/Environment

Climate change is the existential problem of the 21st century. To slow climate change and recover from the Covid-19 crisis, we need substantial stimulus and job creation. We can put Americans back to work in well-paying jobs transforming our energy systems – jobs moving our electricity, transportation, industry and agriculture systems away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, energy efficiency and energy storage, and clean transportation. These will be the jobs of the 21st century to help us to a better shared future. Finally, we must restore the place of science in the forefront of US policy to its pre-2017 status, in all of its manifestations.  In addition to policy recommendations listed here, more detail and more needed policies are contained here.

Taxation

Both North Carolina and the Federal government have been shifting shifting more of the tax burden onto individuals and  lightening or eliminating the burden on corporations: More than half (53%) of North Carolina and half of Federal Tax revenue comes from individual income tax, with only 6.4% of NC and 6% of Federal revenue coming from corporations. Additionally, 31% of NC revenue comes from sales and use taxes and 35% of Federal revenue comes from payroll taxes, both highly regressive taxes. The NC income tax is also regressive because it is a flat-rate tax with many deductions that only benefit higher income earners. The changes to the NC tax system instituted by the legislature since 2013 need to be reversed to move toward a fairer income tax distribution. Likewise, at the Federal level, the misleadingly-named “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” provided massive tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations and minor tax cuts or even increases to lower-income individuals. We must undo most of the changes from TCJA, and reduce and eliminate the many tax breaks for the wealthy in the Federal tax system.

Women & Families 

In North Carolina and across the United States women confront workplace discrimination, health care inequities, disparate rates of poverty, and sexual and domestic violence. Anti-discrimination laws are not uniform or comprehensive, and federal anti-discrimination laws can be repealed or overturned. Single-parent families, regardless of the family make-up, face difficult choices. They need quality child care and family leave policies that address challenges faced by all caregivers.

Civil Rights / Liberties

Relief

  • Protect prison staff and inmates and relieve overcrowding by providing early release for those with remaining sentences for minor convictions of less than 3 years and those with marijuana and other minor convictions
  • Provide benefits to all Americans with these Relief, Recovery and Reform efforts and benefits for all individuals
  • Encourage COVID-19 essential workers to speak freely and choose to wear personal protection equipment without losing their jobs
  • Restore the press pool conventions to White House briefings

Recovery

  • Continue to provide due process during times of emergency or disaster
  • Continue to provide sufficient staffing, therapeutic interventions and skills training in prisons during times of emergency or disaster
  • Allow civil disobedience assembly, and prosecute civilian and police violations accordingly

Reform

Economy and Employment

Relief

Recovery

  • Reverse Republicans’ 2013 dismantling of unemployment insurance in North Carolina Read More
  • Create a new federally funded public job corps that pays a living wage
  • Raise the Minimum Wage to $15/hour

Reform

Read More

Education

Relief

  • Provide funding to expand broadband Internet services and student access to hotspots and technology devices
  • Fund emergency childcare services for “essential” workers such as teachers
  • Provide printed materials to students who don’t have the technology to learn from home until all students have the devices and technology for successful home learning
  • Eliminate standardized testing and school grading this year
  • Eliminate teacher licensure renewal requirements this year
  • Provide HS students with a Pass grade if they were passing as of March 14, 2020
  • Calculate HS GPA on first two semesters of 2019-2020 school year
  • Give local school districts more control over their yearly schedule as is possible
  • Increase Pre-K slots this year to cover all income-eligible children 

Recovery

  • Fully fund public schools to provide access to equal education as mandated in the NC constitution and implement all of the recommendations of the Leandro report. 
  • Fully fund or eliminate class size requirements 
  • Fully fund fair pay for teachers to be competitive with other careers that have similar educational requirements and pay all support staff a living wage
  • Reinstate Masters, Board Certified pay, and continuing education support for teachers
  • Fully or partially eliminate student debt for teachers
  • Provide free Community College to all students
  • Provide nurses, social workers, counselors and psychologists at every school
  • Create flexible scheduling plans for school re-openings with social distancing, including switching between in person and remote teaching as needed

Reform

Read More

Elders and Disabled

Relief

  • Expand Medicaid immediately for COVID testing and treatment
  • Expand pool of available caregivers and home health workers
  • Expand and fund meal programs such as Meals on Wheels
  • Increase safety in congregant living sites by requiring masks for all staff, enforcing physical distancing, and enforcing strict hygiene protocols
  • Screen staff and visitors for symptoms
  • Test all staff and residents and quarantine as needed

Recovery

  • In congregant living facilities, provide areas where residents can visit with family members
  • Continue monitoring health of residents, staff and visitors
  • Continue to implement safety and hygiene protocols
  • Provide funding for extra pay and benefits for front line health care workers during risky and dangerous pandemics/outbreaks
  • Provide comprehensive education and training for in-home and institution-based caregivers
  • Ensure a living wage for professional caregivers and financial support for family caregivers
  • Fully fund programs that provide meals to elders and disabled living at home

Reform

Electoral Reform / Voter Suppression

Relief

  • Prepare for large numbers of absentee voters in the November elections across the U.S.
  • Provide Federal funding through upcoming COVID-19 relief bills to state election officials to meet greatly increased demand for absentee ballots, including expanding their capability to print, mail, and process such ballots. 
  • Change policies to allow “no-excuse” absentee ballots across the nation, eliminating requirements that require interaction with other people
  • Ensure that elder and disabled citizens have access to voter registration and the support they may need to vote, whether in person or by mail

Recovery

  • Provide permanent state funding of NC elections to ensure that everyone across the state, even in counties with small county budgets, can vote without hardship
  • Transition to a vote-by-mail system modeled on those in Washington State, Oregon, and other states. 
  • Restore the sections of the Voting Rights Act that were overturned by the Shelby vs. Holder Supreme Court decision

Reform

  • Permanently suspend voter ID requirements currently enjoined by the courts 
  • Institute a citizen-based redistricting commission to establish Congressional and State Legislature district boundaries to eliminate partisan bias and protect the rights of minorities
  • Implement ranked-choice balloting for all primary elections
  • Abolish the Electoral College (either in fact, or in practice by signing on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact).

Foreign & International Affairs

Relief

  • Fully fund the WHO and other international health and recovery efforts
  • Coordinate shipments of medical equipment and PPEs around the world
  • Develop protocols for sharing scientific and epidemiological data 

Recovery

  • Repair relations with allies
  • Develop protocols to share scientific data on pandemic and recovery with other nations
  • Restore America’s reputation by disavowing the current administration’s anti-globalist policies and statements

Reform

  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords
  • Encourage international cooperation and collaboration to implement a Global Green New Deal
  • Negotiate a new international regime of trade based on real economic development.
  • Dismantle investor-state dispute mechanisms, curtail the power and influence of global corporations, and ensure all nations have sovereignty over their economies
  • Develop long range plans for international cooperation to identify and treat future pandemics and outbreaks
  • Strongly encourage allies to develop peace accords and negotiations to end wars and conflicts
  • Refrain from military action to topple foreign governments
  • Reduce the US military budget and US bases in foreign countries
  • Prioritize international law to avoid wars 
  • Emphasize diplomatic action over military action
  • Rebuild and support the professional diplomatic corps and foreign service

Government Integrity

Relief

  • Support impartial and ethical judicial candidates and nominees to state and federal courts

Recovery

  • Legislate campaign finance reform in North Carolina
  • Strengthen open records laws hiding corporate and nonprofit influence 

Reform

Federal and State Campaign Reform:

  • Amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn Citizens United, the decision that cleared the way for corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections.
  • Address outside spending regulations by Super PACS, dark money groups, and party committees 
  • Broadening the definition of a “thing of value” in campaign finance laws beyond money;  include opposition research from foreign governments
  • Require the IRS to release eight years of tax returns for presidential and vice-presidential candidates; two years of returns for congressional candidates; and returns while in office
  • Require public officials, including presidents and VPs, to sell stock holdings and businesses, or place them in a qualified blind trust; strengthen QBT rules
  • Apply conflict of interest laws to the President and Vice President; pass the Presidential Conflict of Interest Act  
  • Ban government officials and employees from using insider information for financial gain; include criminal penalties for violations
  • Ban members of Congress and senior staff from serving on corporate boards 
  • Expand the definition of lobbyists to include everyone paid to influence lawmakers; require all lobbyists to wait at least 5 years before taking government jobs
  • Legislate a lifetime lobbying ban for presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges, and cabinet secretaries
  • Ban “golden parachutes” for executives who leave corporate jobs for government jobs
  • Criminalize lobbying for foreign entities by United States citizens

For Judicial Reform Read more

Health Care

Relief

  • Support the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, which would empower Medicare to pay all costs of treatment for the uninsured and all out-of-pocket costs for those with public or private insurance for the duration of the pandemic
  • Immediately provide full federal funding for testing, contact tracing and disinfection
  • Immediately expand Medicaid in NC – HB 1040 Healthcare for Working North Carolinians
  • Use the Defense Production Act to produce and equitably distribute ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices and supplies needed throughout the pandemic
  • Fully fund meal programs for the homebound and those living in poverty
  • Establish a moratorium on medical debt collections
  • Cap the costs of prescription drugs 
  • Invest in social distancing – pay people to stay home to stop the spread of the disease
  • Increase coverage of mental health services, including access to telemedicine
  • End surprise billing

Recovery

Reform

  • Enact and implement “Improved Medicare For All” single-payer system that covers all people, for all medically necessary services (including dental, vision, hearing aids, mental health, and prescription drugs) funded by a progressive tax like the one outlined in HR 1384- The Medicare For All Act of 2019

Immigration

Relief

  • Release or parole all immigrants from detention in order to protect public health
  • Impose an immediate moratorium on putting immigrants in detention during this public health crisis

Recovery

  • Permanently end mandatory detention
  • End federal prison sentences and criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border seeking freedom, safety, opportunity or to reunite with their families
  • Allow immigration judges the discretion to consider individual circumstances during deportation proceedings
  • Allow immigration judges to revisit previous decisions made under the harsh 1996 immigration laws
  • Ban local police from acting as deportation agents or otherwise doing the work of ICE

Reform

  • Pass the Dream ACT  and the New Way Forward Act.
  • Ban for-profit immigration jails
  • Abolish ICE
  • Limit deportation for drug convictions and other minor offenses that result from disproportionate enforcement in communities of color
  • Allow previous deportees to apply to return home to the US

Science/Energy/Environment

Relief

  • Create a federally funded Job Corps paying a living wage for testing for COVID19, nationwide contact tracing, and disinfecting hospitals, clinics and public buildings

Recovery

Federal:

  • Create a federally funded Climate Conservation Corps to weatherize homes and businesses, build out intra-city light rail or bus rapid transit,  build the federal inter-city high speed rail plan, restore and protect threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems and clean up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites
  • Fund and install widespread rural broadband (similar to the 1930s Rural Electrification)
  • Streamline permitting and help fund offshore wind energy and its transmission lines
  • Fund publicly-owned wind, solar, geothermal, and storage resources
  • Expand funding for a modern smart grid for both transmission and distribution 
  • Establish a national Green Bank to provide low-interest loans for green infrastructure 
  • Fund urban multi-modal public transit and EV charging and electrify truck stops

 North Carolina:

  • Create an NC Green Bank to help farmers, businesses, and homeowners finance energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy
  • Allow third-party electricity sales
  • Require utilities to use 100% clean energy by 2030

Reform

  • Rejoin the Paris Agreement and restore science to the forefront of US policy
  • Enact a national Clean Energy Standard to reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2030
  • Ban fossil fuel infrastructure and new oil and natural gas pipelines on federal lands 
  • Identify and eliminate all subsidies for fossil fuel infrastructure
  • Finance a state and local transition to electric bus fleets and clean school buses
  • Require electric vehicles (EVs) as an increasing percentage of US manufacturers fleets
  • Provide grants to families and small businesses to trade in their cars for electric vehicles
  • Establish a national zero-carbon building standard for new buildings
  • Restore US EPA programs and regulations that have been gutted since 2016

 North Carolina:

  • Change the state mandated utility rate structure to performance-based ratemaking
  • Require monopoly utility Integrated Resource Plans to analyze zero-fossil fuel by 2030, and require compliance with the most cost-effective path to it.

Read More

Taxation

Relief

Recovery

  • Repeal the 2018 NC Tax Cap Amendment, which limits NC’s maximum marginal tax rate to 7%, so that higher earners can contribute more to NC’s recovery
  • Eliminate the Social Security wage base cap to help secure retirement benefits for our elderly
  • Fully fund the IRS’s enforcement efforts, reversing the decades-long decline in enforcement audits of high-income earners. Additional tax collected would far exceed the increased cost of enforcement

Reform

  • Eliminate preferential treatment of investment income, which delivers more than $200B in tax savings to high earners and is an important cause of income and wealth inequality
  • Subject all personal income to Social Security tax, which would make Social Security sustainable with no need to reduce benefits and would even allow the Social Security tax rate to be lowered
  • Fundamentally reform our individual income tax system, focusing on simplification and fairness, eliminating the myriad tax breaks for high earners
  • Fundamentally reform our corporate income tax system, focusing on simplification and fairness, and making it difficult for multinational corporations to evade taxes

Women and Families 

Relief

Federal: 

  • Increase federal funding for SNAP, WIC, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) for recipients without access to other food sources
  • Support SNAP Online Purchasing, include delivery services; expand it to all states

North Carolina: 

  • Extend food benefits as allocated by NCDHHS FNS  (Food / Nutrition Services) 
  • Fund local food banks and programs like Meals on Wheels
  • Fund food distribution centers for needy, and distribution of food to isolated individuals
  • Expand WIC eligibility to low and middle-income caregivers who participate in programs such as foster care, medical assistance or SNAP

Recovery

Federal:

  • Ensure that Section 7(k) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 is continuously funded with other existing appropriations acts; increase funds to cover all in need 
  • Provide additional funding for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, and the Sexual Assault Services Program
  • Provide maternity health care to all
  • Reverse the Title X “gag rule” that bans doctors from giving patients full information

North Carolina:

Reform

Federal:

  • Support national paid family leave including paid parental and home care leave
  • Provide funds for Medicare recipients aligned with their medical, financial, and personal needs, and include the option to employ family
  • Remove USDA Secretary’s authority to distribute funds under Food & Nutrition Act 
  • Increase federal funding under Title X Family Planning Programs

North Carolina: 

READ MORE 

Economy and Employment

Full and Flexible Federal Funding for State, County, City, and Local Governments

Immediate full and flexible federal funding of $2 trillion for state, county, city and other local governments newly experiencing a collapse of revenues while their expenses for emergency assistance leap. We must immediately rescue state and local governments and their budgets for police, firefighting, medical services and public health, education, community colleges, libraries, plus rescue local businesses and charities. $1 trillion is for immediate needs, and another $1 trillion is a pre-authorized reserve to ensure that the funding inadequacies of the CARES Act and other legislation is NOT repeated again. State and local governments should be hiring hundreds of thousands of new employees right now, but instead are being forced to lay off workers. Because county, city and local governments issue business licenses and have historic knowledge of their local businesses and charities (such as payroll and banking information), these regulatory authorities are better equipped to provide oversight; are better judges of local needs; and are much more interested in helping and rescuing businesses, charities, and other participants in their local communities, and therefore should be entrusted with a generously funded Small Business Rescue run not by commercial banks (which have failed miserably with the Payroll Protection Program and also exacerbated racial inequalities). In addition to rescuing local small businesses, local governments can also rescue local charities, including religious groups, that provide food and meals, shelter, medical services, and other emergency services (in many communities local governments already coordinate with, and provide funding to, local charities, such as food banks and homeless shelters).

Reform Wall Street, and the financial, banking, and monetary systems

  • Implement Senator Sanders’ Real Wall Street Reform
    • Break up too-big-to-fail banks and end the too-big-to-jail doctrine (which the Justice Department uses as an excuse to not prosecute financial crimes)
    • Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act
    • Audit the Federal Reserve and make it a more democratic institution
    • Cap interest rates and ATM fees and allow every post office to offer basic and affordable banking services
    • Eliminate high frequency trading in financial markets.
  • Define stock buybacks as fraudulent price manipulation; mandate corporations disclose timing and extent of buybacks to shareholders, as was done before 1982 SEC rule change
  • Prohibit “mark-to-model” valuation of financial derivatives in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). If you can’t discover a real price, then there isn’t a market for it
  • Eliminate hedge funds, which create a two tiered-financial system (minimum investment requirements of hedge funds exclude all but the most wealthy; such exclusion is an assault on the basic principle in a republic that all citizens are equal before the law) 
  • Establish international agreement for new managed exchange rate system (references here, here, and here)
  • Reintroduce usury laws

Reverse Republicans’ 2013 dismantling of unemployment insurance

Reverse Republicans’ 2013 dismantling of unemployment insurance in North Carolina. “At the end of 2019, less than 9% of unemployed North Carolina workers were receiving unemployment benefits – benefits that averaged a paltry $265 per week.” This makes North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system the worst in the nation. Actions recommended by Bill Rowe, general counsel and deputy director for advocacy at the North Carolina Justice Center:

  • Change North Carolina’s weekly benefit calculation
  • Increase the maximum benefit amount. This will also put more money in workers’ pockets post July 31 when the federal add-on of $600 ends
  • Increase the maximum duration someone can receive benefits
  • Address roadblocks created by the state’s low “earnings disregard”
  • Adopt Work-Sharing/Short-Time Compensation Option for Employers

Create employment recovery and training programs.

Over 30 million people in USA have lost jobs in March through May 2020, and many of those jobs have been destroyed permanently. Only the federal government has the capacity and means to provide immediate employment for millions of people–as was proven by the New Deal. New jobs programs to repair and build new infrastructure, assist in contact tracing, disinfecting, and sanitization, and other work, and can be modeled on the New Deal Public Works Administration, Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps.)

Education

Leandro Report

“Entitled “Sound Basic Education for All: An Action Plan for North Carolina,” the report explains that despite near-unanimous agreement that “the future prosperity and well-being of the state’s citizens requires successfully educating all of its children…North Carolina’s current education system fails to meet the education needs of many of its children and thereby fails to provide for the future success of these individuals, their communities, and the state.”

In fact, the report found that “the state is further away from meeting its constitutional obligation to provide every child with the opportunity for a sound basic education [today] than it was when the Supreme Court of North Carolina issued the Leandro decision more than 20 years ago.” Accordingly, the report provided eight “critical needs” for the state to address in order “to ensure that every child receives a sound basic education:”

  1. Revising the state funding model to provide adequate, efficient, and equitable resources;
  2. Providing a qualified, well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school;
  3. Providing a qualified and well-prepared principal in every school;
  4. Providing all at-risk students with the opportunity to attend high-quality early childhood programs;
  5. Directing resources, opportunities, and initiatives to economically disadvantaged students;
  6. Revising the student assessment system and school accountability system;
  7. Building an effective regional and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools; and
  8. Convening an expert panel to assist the Court in monitoring state policies, plans, programs, and progress.

Amidst the frenzied aftermath of the report’s publication, one thing is abundantly clear: it is vitally important for the future of North Carolina public education for all stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members, and, most importantly, policymakers – to quickly and zealously act on the report’s findings. Here’s why.”

“To be clear, the state’s inaction here is not mere bad policy or bad politics – it’s literally unconstitutional.”

Government Integrity

Judicial Reform 

  • Require the retrospective disclosure of 5 years of federal and state tax returns by candidates for judicial appointments, and the disclosure of returns while on the bench
  • Require transparency of judicial nominees, judges, and justices; include financial reports, recusal decisions, and outside speeches
  • Apply the Code of Conduct for lower federal court judges to Supreme Court justices. 
  • Strengthen ethics requirements for federal judges
  • Prevent judges from escaping misconduct investigations by leaving the court 
  • Prohibit courts from using sealed settlements to conceal evidence in public health, and safety cases
  • Ban court enforcement of arbitration clauses and class action waivers for employment, consumer protection, antitrust, and civil rights cases

North Carolina

  • Apply above federal reforms to North Carolina
  • Ban out-of-state Super PACs and dark money spending in NC elections 
  • Reenact public funding and nonpartisan judicial elections

Science/Energy/Environment

Recovery

  • Expand federal Power Marketing Administrations and create a new one to fund publicly-owned wind (including offshore wind), solar, geothermal, and storage resources 

North Carolina actions:

  • Tighten the renewable portfolio standard to 100% clean energy by 2030 and eliminate the option of buying out-of-state renewal energy credits (RECs) for compliance
  • Incentivize wind energy development off the NC coast

Reform

  • Enact a national Clean Energy Standard administered by the EPA that applies to all power providers, climbing to 100% carbon-free energy by 2030. This would require utilities to meet 100 percent of US power demand through clean energy sources, and eliminate fossil fuel use
  • Establish performance-based utility rate structures; cut the link between increased electricity sales and revenues
  • Require green well completions (i.e. “plugging methane leaks”) at all remaining fracking infrastructure, phasing out such infrastructure by 2030
  • Tighten auto and truck mile-per-gallon standards. By 2030 require zero emissions from new autos, medium-duty trucks, and buses
  • Provide grants to families and small businesses to trade in their cars for electric vehicles
  • Expand the federally funded Climate Conservation Corps created under Recovery to continue to:

o   Build out of national infrastructure for electric vehicles

o   Weatherize homes and business for maximum energy efficiency

o   Build out intra-city light rail or bus rapid transit

o   Build the federal intercity high speed rail plan

o   Restore and protect threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems

o   Clean up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites

  • Require utilities to upgrade electric grids for distributed energy