For Release Sunday, July 28, 2013
© 2013 Washington Post Writers Group
There was a time when North Carolina was a symbol of Southern enlightenment. Compared to the policies of the old “Solid South” – Democratic, conservative, fervidly anti-civil rights – the state embraced relatively progressive policies in such areas as education and race relations.
In the new, suddenly solid Republican South, the Tar Heel state is racing to lead the pack in conservative anti-city and implicitly anti-black politics.
Just check the record of what’s occurred since 2010, when Republicans for the first time since 1896 won control of both houses of North Carolina’s Legislature.
They’ve passed a tax bill that will reduce state revenue by more than a half-billion dollars a year, benefitting higher-income taxpayers while increasing taxes for small business owners and lower- and middle-class taxpayers.
Moves on unemployment insurance will cut benefits and the length of coverage for tens of thousands of North Carolina workers.
The state’s earned income tax credit is being closed off, raising the tax burden on thousands of the working poor.
Aid to elementary education is dropping, with the growing state now spending less on public schools than it did in 2007.
On the social side, the GOP-controlled legislature recently repealed the Racial Justice Act of 2009 – a law that allowed death-row inmates to claim that racial bias played a role in their convictions. With 152 people on death row, that decision and others helped spark a series of political rallies at the state capital in Raleigh, called Moral Mondays. The NAACP and allied civil rights, labor and immigration groups have joined in, trying to combat what they call North Carolina’s new “mean-spirited” public policies.