Letter: Pass state budget for people

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

Health care is a number one priority, especially during this pandemic. Yet 12% of Rowan County residents and 11% across the state, do not have health insurance. This could be remedied by North Carolina participating in Medicaid expansion, provided through the Affordable Care Act. This would cost North Carolina nothing for the first two years, and only 10% after that. Hospitals want this program, which would help especially in underserved rural areas. And they are willing to pay into future costs.

However, the draft budget proposals the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper are negotiating do not include Medicaid expansion. We are one of only 12 states that refuse this federal-funded opportunity to provide health care to over 600,000 North Carolinians, including many essential workers in our grocery stores or health care aides.

The General Assembly says they can’t afford to give our communities what we need to thrive – expansion of health care, fully funding public education, decent and affordable housing and increases in unemployment compensation. Yet they propose eliminating corporate taxes. Meanwhile, our state has $8.6 billion just sitting in the bank, undesignated. That is our money, our tax dollars. This money should be used to meet the dire needs of our residents, not give more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who come here to avoid paying a livable wage to their workers.

We deserve a state budget that represents all of us, not just a powerful few. I call on our representatives in Raleigh — Senator Carl Ford and Representatives Julia Howard, Harry Warren and Wayne Sasser as well as Gov. Roy Cooper to pass a budget that is for the people they represent.

— Eileen Hanson-Kelly