If we are going to provide equal opportunities for all North Carolina citizens, we must start by ensuring that all of our children are given equal opportunities throughout their time in our education systems. Our children deserve access to the best resources, tools, and people to make sure that they succeed from kindergarten through high school and beyond.
The minimum wage must be raised throughout North Carolina but the general assembly will not allow cities to increase the minimum wage or make other laws to fit a city’s needs. A single parent with two children, for example, in order for them to get by without public assistance in Charlotte, that parent needs a job making $24.90 an hour. If we’re going to allow people to afford to live where they work, they have to have a living wage. All work has value and the people doing that work must be recognized as valuable as well.
We have to respect everybody, no matter who they love, where they came from, what language they speak—that’s equity.
If you’re poor in North Carolina, your access to justice got a little tougher this year. If I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected, one of the bills I’m going to file is to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent crimes. Last year, the Republican majority in the General Assembly made it tougher for judges to waive court fees, and that’s another way to exploit poor people. The courts must not be seen as a profit center. If the justice system is an equal part of the government, why is only 1.5 percent of the $23 billion budget going to the courts.
People need to know when they need it they will have access to justice. In 2015, judges heard 2.7 million cases. People need to have confidence in the system that they’ll get access to justice. We also didn’t expand the budget on public defenders. If you’re a victim of a crime, we knew this year that we needed 75 Assistant District Attorneys across the state, but we only budgeted for 35. We need a strong commitment to law and justice, and that comes only through a commitment to fully fund our growing state’s needs.