North Carolina Democrats unveil platform for fall campaigns
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic lawmakers on Monday unveiled their to-do list if they got back some or all power at the Legislative Building after November, promising to raise teacher pay to the national average, expand Medicaid and retool how redistricting is done.
Holding several news conferences from Asheville to Wilmington, House and Senate Democrats described their four-part ”Our Carolina Promise ” agenda as forward-thinking and unifying.
“People want to know what you’re for, not just what you’re against,” House Minority Leader Darren Jackson of Wake County said at state Democratic Party headquarters. “But it’s our job to tell people what we would do differently from the Republicans and that’s what we’re doing here today.”
Democrats have been in the minority at the Legislative Building since 2011 but say they’re energized this year and have fielded candidates for all 170 General Assembly seats. They need to win four additional House or six Senate seats to end the Republicans’ veto-proof majorities and give Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper more leverage with legislation. Sixteen more House seats and 11 Senate seats would be needed to get Democratic majorities.
The agenda is “a commitment to what’s possible with more Democrats in office and a pledge our Democratic values,” Cooper said in a video promoting the agenda. He’s been raising money for legislative campaigns and isn’t on the ballot until 2020.
Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, said many of the agenda items were within Cooper’s budget proposal released last week, including higher teacher pay, more money to help people addicted to opioids and covering more than 675,000 people with Medicaid through the federal health care overhaul law.
Democrats also said they would work to expand high-quality broadband to rural areas, block efforts to politicize the judiciary and approve “independent redistricting to end gerrymandering once and for all.” They also wants “common sense” gun safety laws, including tougher background checks and allowing judges to take guns temporarily from people determined to be a danger to others or themselves.
Republicans have opposed increasing gun restrictions, largely spurned calls for Medicaid expansion and backed away over the past decade from the idea of shifting remapping duties to an outside commission or nonpartisan staff.
The Democrats’ agenda would restore the state’s portion of the earned income tax credit, which provides tax rebates to families with children. But Jackson said “tax reform should be more fair to working families and to the working poor” and cited Cooper’s budget, which would block a planned corporate tax cut and part of an individual income tax cut set to begin next year.
Republicans, who have candidates in almost all legislative seats, say Cooper’s tax plan raises taxes because he wouldn’t allow cuts approved last year to take effect. State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Democrats talk about raising teacher pay but voted repeatedly against GOP budgets that did just that.
“Their only real agenda is raising taxes,” he said in an email.
Chaudhuri said he anticipated the agenda would make their way into debates within the General Assembly during the session that begins Wednesday. And “as we go into the fall, there will be very clear choices about what choices voters have,” he said.