What are the progressive issues, and where do the candidates stand?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and so I thought I would post it and get others opinions. What are the real North Carolina progressive issues that the good folks here at BlueNC would like to see the gubernatorial candidates discussing this year? And do we know where the candidates stand on them?

Here's what I see as progressive issues for N.C.

Revamping our sales tax system to include more taxation on services to better reflect a 21st century economy. (Haven't heard any candidates discuss this.)

Ending the cap on the gas tax (our underfunded roads desperately need the revenue, and capping the gas tax did absolutely nothing to impact the price of gas).

No ban on homosexual marriage (I know the real progressive issue would be to recognize homosexual marriage, but this is North Carolina we are talking about here. You've got to crawl before you can walk.)

Supporting a federal amnesty program on illegal aliens.

Figuring out how to fund our state's $60 billion (or thereabouts) transportation funding gap.

Improving our state's pathetic dropout rate. (This is not really a progressive issue, but what I'm looking for here are progressive ideas to deal with this problem. And no, raising the dropout age to 18 is not one of them.)

Reducing the number of involuntary uninsured people in North Carolina.

I'm going to research Moore and Perdue's Web sites to see if they address any of these issues. If you have ideas of what you think N.C.'s progressive issues are, please post them on here.

Comments

Richard Moore's scorecard

Revamping our sales tax system to include more taxation on services to better reflect a 21st century economy. I don't seen anything on his site about the state's revenue structure.

Ending the cap on the gas tax. Nothing

No ban on homosexual marriage.
Nothing

Supporting a federal amnesty program on illegal aliens. Don't see anything on his Web site about it, but I do recall in an early debate that he said he just couldn't get past the "illegal" part of it, which I interpret to mean he would be against the amnesty program.

Figuring out how to fund our state's $60 billion (or thereabouts) transportation funding gap. Moore has a transportation reform plan, but it doesn't address the funding gap. I do like his idea to keep DOT Board members from making campaign contributions, but that really doesn't address transportation issues as much as it does campaign finance issues.

Improving our state's pathetic dropout rate. Moore says his goal is to cut the dropout rate in half, but really doesn't offer any kind of specifics to achieve that goal. He has the usual talk about accountability, paying teachers more, etc., but nothing that strikes me as earth-shattering or something that promises a significant change. His public-private foundation to build schools sounds interesting, but counties in N.C. have had the authority to enter into these kinds of agreements for a couple of years now (basically allowing a private company to build a school, then the county leases the school from the firm for a number of years), but no county has used it yet, so I have my doubts about it.

Reducing the number of involuntary uninsured people in North Carolina. He has what sounds like a good idea, but I am sure it would be costly. And, of course, there is no talk about how he'll pay for it.

Bev Perdue's scorecard

Revamping our sales tax system to include more taxation on services to better reflect a 21st century economy. I don't seen anything on her site about the state's revenue structure.

Ending the cap on the gas tax. Nothing

No ban on homosexual marriage.
Nothing

Supporting a federal amnesty program on illegal aliens. Like Moore, she came out against the community college system's immigration policy. She's also made some other strong anti-immigrant comments during the campaign. I wouldn't count on her to champion an amnesty program.

Figuring out how to fund our state's $60 billion (or thereabouts) transportation funding gap. Like Moore, Perdue wants to end the Highway Trust Fund transfer of about $172 million a year. She also wants to reform DOT, which she thinks will speed up projects, thereby mitigating the impact of inflation costs on construction. She also says she wants the DOT to partner with "counties" on projects. Since counties currently don't fund roads, this must mean she is looking to pass the buck to us property tax payers to make up for the state's shortfall.

Improving our state's pathetic dropout rate. Perdue has similar ideas to Moore. She wants to pay teachers more (a lot more, actually) and make college free for a lot more people. Again, no mention of how we'll pay for any of this, and I certainly don't see any kind of innovative ideas in any of this.

Reducing the number of involuntary uninsured people in North Carolina. Bev has spent a lot of time researching this issue and has a lot of ideas. Like Moore, most of them involve expanding the Medicaid program to include more people and also extending some state programs to include all children. This all sounds great, but of course will be very expensive. She makes no mention of how she will pay for it.

My take

Since you're taking the pulse of progressives in NC, I thought I'd share.

Revamping our sales tax system to include more taxation on services to better reflect a 21st century economy.

Under the issue of taxes, far more informed folks have taken this on, but I'd say that no matter what kind of sales tax you're talking about, it's still one of the more regressive taxes that exists. Like many progressives, I'd like to see an elimination of the sales tax on food and necessary clothing items. I'd like to see growth paid for by a reasonable land transfer tax or impact fee based on the price of the property purchased, with an exemption for the first $100,000 (or an agreed upon amount to prevent this from being a barrier to low-income home ownership.)

Ending the cap on the gas tax (our underfunded roads desperately need the revenue, and capping the gas tax did absolutely nothing to impact the price of gas).

To be totally honest with you - I don't know where I stand on this. I haven't done enough reading on this particular issue. I'd like to add the caveat that if the gas tax cap is lifted, I'd want to see a % of the tax always allocated to the development of truly alternative fuels that will put NC at the forefront in the development of a Green economy in the US. I think we are uniquely positioned to do that, because of our agricultural base and our research triangle big thinkers. :) So yes, the roads need to be fixed. We don't want the infrastructure falling apart, and if we drive on the roads, we should have to pay for that. But let's also try to develop ourselves and our economy in a responsible way.

No ban on homosexual marriage (I know the real progressive issue would be to recognize homosexual marriage, but this is North Carolina we are talking about here. You've got to crawl before you can walk.)

True progressives want equality for everyone. It's not based on crawling before you walk, it's not based on letting the poor straights get used to the idea that men might be marrying men (!), it's based on the idea that no one should be discriminated against, and that everyone - everyone deserves equal protection under the law. Because my better half is legally male, our marriage is recognized by the State of NC. That means we get all of the rights and responsibilities that comes with being legally married. Under federal law, it's something like 1164 separate rights. Pam Spaulding, who posts here regularly, legally married her wife, Kate, in Canada. They do not enjoy the same protection that Grace and I do.

So what's up with that? Do Kate and Pam love each other any less? I doubt it. Are they any less committed to each other? I doubt that, too. But there you have it - Over 1000 rights that my spouse and I have that they don't, even though we live less than 70 miles apart. Nope. Not right. This is about equality, and "not banning" is passive, it's not active. The right to marry should be recognized. I think that ultimately that this is a federal issue as well, because of the Supreme Court decision Virgina v. Loving, which made it legal for interracial couples to marry, and overturned laws on the books of several states. I will be writing to our new US Senator in Nov and asking them to work on DOMA right away.

Supporting a federal amnesty program on illegal aliens.

I do support a federal amnesty program. I prefer to call the individuals undocumented residents or workers. But that's just me and tonight I'm not going to argue words with you. The key word is federal. NC can't, nor should it, create its own program. I serve families every day who may or may not be documented. I don't ask. I help them get what they need to take care of their families so that they can be part of the NC work force. These individuals are part of our economy. I would like to see the employers who are using illegal hiring practices to be cracked down on so that we could be sure that who ever is working for them, whether they are documented or not, they would be safe. Here's hoping Robin Anderson wins on Tuesday.

Figuring out how to fund our state's $60 billion (or thereabouts) transportation funding gap.

I can't speak to this issue, as I really no nothing about it. It's not something I've thought of as a progressive issue, necessarily, but I can't take a progressive position on it since I don't know enough about it.

Improving our state's pathetic dropout rate.

First of all, please realize that the "pathetic drop out rate" that has been seized on by all of our politicians has been misquoted. The actual phrasing was students who did not finish high school with in 4 years. There are a number of reasons why this can happen: some children need an extra year to adjust to the learning adventure that is puberty, some children transfer to a different school district and that may affect the numbers, and then there are students who are actually unable to complete high school curriculum, but complete their years in school and are given a certificate of completion.

However, there are many students who opt out of the public high school. I've said it before; I'll say it again. If you wait until 9th grade to try and entice them to stay, you're too late. Finally, I'm going to just go ahead and be the bleeding heart liberal that I am and remind you that if a child is hunngry, he can't learn, he can't concentrate, and doesn't want to. If a child is too tired to stay awake, he can't learn. If a family has no heat, a child can't learn. If a family is stressed about a lost job, broken marriage, substance abuse issues, or a myriad of other things, the child can't learn - and doesn't want to. So - I think the biggest issue affecting the "pathetic drop out rate" in NC schools is poverty. Fix poverty, fix the drop out rate. There you go, Linda likes the simple answers. :)

Reducing the number of involuntary (sic) uninsured people in North Carolina.

Are you talking about health care? I'm with you. That's a top priority for this progressive. I think basic health care is a right to all, and is in the interest of the public health as well.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

I agree with most of what you say Linda

I do think we desperately need to revamp our sales tax system to include more services so that we can lower the overall rate. I just paid $200 for an electric lawnmower that cost an additional $13.50 in taxes. If we were able to tax folks who can afford to pay somebody to mow their lawn, then maybe we could lower the overall sales tax rate to 5.0 percent or so, which would have saved me $3.50 in taxes. I also support eliminating the sales tax on food. Again, the key is broadening the base so you can lower the overall rate. Our state has one of the most inefficient sales taxes in the nation because we refuse to tax services, and of course, nobody in our state government has enough guts to lead this effort.

As for homosexual marriage, I understand what you are saying completely. But our state is not ready to take that kind of leap yet. For us, I would define progressivity on this issue as not going backwards (i.e. passing some sort of constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage). I know it ain't much, but at least it would be a start. I saw something where Perdue says she does not support the constitutional amendment, so I will give her props for that. I don't know about where Richard Moore stands.

Loving v. Virginia noteworthy today

So what's up with that? Do Kate and Pam love each other any less? I doubt it. Are they any less committed to each other? I doubt that, too. But there you have it - Over 1000 rights that my spouse and I have that they don't, even though we live less than 70 miles apart. Nope. Not right. This is about equality, and "not banning" is passive, it's not active. The right to marry should be recognized. I think that ultimately that this is a federal issue as well, because of the Supreme Court decision Virgina v. Loving, which made it legal for interracial couples to marry, and overturned laws on the books of several states. I will be writing to our new US Senator in Nov and asking them to work on DOMA right away.

Thanks for the props, Linda. That my marriage and relationship has zero value in my home state is painful. It may soon be recognized in California (a court ruling is in June), and possibly NY.

This discussion is particularly noteworthy today because Mildred Loving of Loving v. Virginia has passed away. She was a strong supporter of marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com