Priorities and the Jet that Ate the Budget

Photo by Flickr user Skakerman

A recent article in Raleigh’s News and Observer focused on the F-35 jet. The American Friends Service Committee calls this weapon system the “plane that ate the budget” and puts the lifetime cost at $1.5 trillion. Over the same period of years that Lockheed Martin has encouraged Congress to continue funding the most expensive weapon system ever, we have cut many needed domestic programs that feed our hungry and educate our children. This system isn’t yet working and is way behind schedule. Sen. John McCain said “The (F-35) Joint Strike…

Statement on the Supreme Court’s ACA Decision

Photo by Flickr user: dbking

The North Carolina Council of Churches celebrates today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.  For decades, the Council has supported universal health care, and while the current version of Obamacare does not reach that ultimate goal, it has proved to be a crucial step forward. We are grateful to the justices of the Supreme Court who have upheld the subsidy guaranteeing 6.4 million Americans — more than 450,000 in North Carolina — continued access to care. Meanwhile, some states, including our own, have chosen to fall even farther…

Revenue Boosts and Tax-cut Boasts

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The rooster crowed. The sun came up. The rooster puffed his feathered chest as he beheld his magnificent handiwork. Phil Berger led the state Senate in cutting taxes. Revenues nudged up, putting the state on course to finish its budget year in the black. Berger proclaimed that the tax cuts had done the trick. One might even say that he crowed. “Two years ago, when the Republican legislature passed the largest tax cut in state history, Chicken Littles on the left loudly cried North Carolina would lose so much tax…

David LaMotte on the Fair Food Program

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The Council’s Farmworker Ministry Committee has long been supportive of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its efforts on behalf of those who work in the fields. The Committee has hosted CIW events locally and advocated for the Coalition’s campaigns. David LaMotte, the Council’s consultant for peace, recently had a guest column published in the Asheville Citizen-Times in which he calls attention to the CIW’s Fair Food Program as it pertains to Publix. It reads in part: The Fair Food Program is a historic partnership among farm workers, tomato growers,…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause

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The Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar – its top-profile public event of the year – is meant to inform, and it’s meant to inspire. We’re not too bashful to say that this year’s version, held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, succeeded on both counts. With the General Assembly moving into the heart of its biennial “long session” – and with conservative legislators seemingly bent on deepening many of the ill-advised holes they’ve been digging for themselves and the state – the seminar focused on a…

Tax Cuts’ Costs Becoming Clear

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Since taking veto-proof control of the NC General Assembly in the elections of 2012, members of the Republican majority have labored diligently to fix what they’ve regarded as a broken tax system. Of course, whether it really was broken is a point many North Carolinians have been quick to dispute. The overall effect of the GOP’s tax-cut binge has been to make it harder for governments at all levels to carry out their public service missions and also to shift tax burdens toward people who are less able to afford…

Faith and Taxation

Christian Witness on the Tax-Sustained Road

Lots of us will have our attention focused on taxes over the next couple of weeks. This focus provides a unique opportunity for faith communities to help North Carolinians make the connection between paying taxes and living out our values.  Paying taxes allows us to invest in the Common Good and build a just economy that supports opportunity for everyone regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. Moreover, if people are taxed fairly so that each of us contributes according to our ability, it will help to ensure…

Council Puts Hot Topics on the Table

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The mission of the NC Council of Churches extends into many areas that highlight the links between faith and public policies. And of the various events and activities sponsored by the Council, none is more closely focused on those links than the Legislative Seminar – giving it a special prominence on the Council calendar. No, it’s not a seminar of the sort familiar on college campuses – a small gathering around a cozy table. This is bigger and broader. It’s meant to be a multifaceted learning experience and strategy session,…

Advocate for Family-Sustaining Living Wages and the Right to Organize

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According to Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), “four million fast food workers across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many workers are standing up for $15 per hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.” Other low-wage workers, such as home health care workers, are now joining this struggle. After enduring bad weather in recent weeks – snow, ice, treacherous driving conditions, schools out at a moment’s notice, and lengthy power outages for many – I have been thinking about low wage workers. They  get no paid…

Coming to the Seminar? Bring a Friend!

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The Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar is about a month away, and we have an exciting program of preachers, workshops, and presenters planned. If you’ve already registered to be with us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 14. If you haven’t registered, please do so by April 7 in order to guarantee lunch. Either way, we hope you’ll help us get the word out to other progressive people of faith. You can find a color flyer here or a program and registration form here to print…

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

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Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. Please scroll through the registration section for a full list of topics and presenters. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith…

Doomed UNC Centers Sang the Wrong Songs

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It’s easy to imagine what the conservative Republicans who rule North Carolina’s legislative roost were thinking: “Here we’ve gone to all the trouble to take control of the General Assembly. We appoint the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. We set the system’s budget. “So why should we have to put up with the jibes of an impudent Democrat law professor who uses his university job to accuse us of ignoring poverty? What do he and his liberal pals know about putting more money in poor people’s pockets?…

Time to Uphold UNC’s Anti-Poverty Mission

Photo from the Office of Governor Patrick

One can say this about UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gene Nichol without fear of contradiction: He doesn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut or his keyboard quiet. Good for him! Throughout his years in North Carolina, Nichol from his law professor’s perch has been a pugnacious crusader on behalf of the state’s social and economic underdogs. And when it comes to criticizing the governmental chiefs whose conservative policies have hurt those underdogs’ interests, Nichol hasn’t been shy about calling them out – even when it became obvious that the…

Compassion Makes Good ‘Cents’ — It’s Affordable

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Our faiths call us to work for justice and show compassion for the “least of these.”  Justice issues can also make such good economic sense that we cannot afford not to be compassionate. Such is the case with extending Medicaid to close the coverage gap and provide health insurance for all citizens in North Carolina. Dr.  Margaret E Sowerwine, a Rocky Mount physician, shares information she prepared for business leaders on the economic argument for closing the health care gap in NC. As Christians, the economic advantage is a bonus….

Gene Nichol Won’t Let Us Ignore Poverty

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Gene Nichol was the recipient of the Council’s 2013 Faith Active in Public Life Award. (To see his keynote address at our 2013 Legislative Seminar, “It’s Better Not to Be Poor in North Carolina,” click here.) Gene’s upbringing and education in Catholic circles have led him to a special concern for the most vulnerable people in our midst. Gene is a law professor, former UNC Law dean, and the director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, an important part of the work of the UNC Law School. His…