I’ve always thought the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions was a bit defeatist. Here you have a blank canvas, an untouched twelve months of failure-free time, and the first thing you do is add a bunch of goals to the mix that are just going to make you feel like a big fat loser once you hit January 7th and eat a candy bar or skip the gym in favor of a Real Housewives marathon.
That said, I have no problem whatsoever with making resolutions for other people or entities. 2014 in North Carolina was a mixed bag. We continued to be one of the worst states in the country for teachers to work, for women to seek healthcare, and for very young children to get educated. But unlike previous years, we managed not to pass any new legislation that actively hurt women or children or their medical providers. So, yay for that, I guess.
What I demand from North Carolina in 2015 rises far above the status quo of not closing any women’s health clinics or pre-K classrooms. This year I want our state to soar. We have a long legislative session coming up—the one in which a lot of the work is done to set state policy—so now is the time to put women first in the Tarheel state.
Here’s my list of resolutions that would make North Carolina the great state for women that we know it can be.
- Provide healthcare to those in need. North Carolina has been waffling about whether it will expand Medicaid so that 250,000 poor residents can have access to healthcare. 2015 is the year this has to happen. Our state Medicaid system is a model other states look to when designing theirs. Let’s ensure every family has the basic care they need so they can show up for work, mind their children, and participate in our economy.
- Pay our workers what they’re worth. Having a below-average minimum wage is just shameful. Families can’t eat, stay warm, or get healthy on $8 an hour. We need to raise our minimum wage to at least $10.10. But more than that, we need to ensure women are earning the same as men. No more of this 80 cents on the dollar business. This is 2015, people! There is no such thing as women’s work and we need to obliterate the notion of women’s pay.
- Prioritize public schools. Somewhere along the way, North Carolina got lost when it comes to its attitudes about education. We went from one of the top states in the country one of the bottom in terms of teacher pay. Our kids deserve better; our teachers deserve the better. Classroom spending is at a low, and many NC teachers are getting less on their paychecks than they did in 2013. We must reverse the trend in 2015 by funding not only teacher salaries, but schools and supplies as well.
- Make state taxes fair. In the past few years, we’ve suffered a series of tax law changes that placed the tax burden unfairly on the backs of low- and middle-income earners. We ended the earned income tax credit and killed a series of tax cuts that made it affordable for families to live in NC. We need to roll back these changes and remember that our state was built on giving a fair shot to all residents, not just the captains of industry.
- Make child care affordable and available. We need to fund every seat in our award-winning pre-k program. Once we have 3- and 4-year-old’s covered, next we need to increase childcare subsidies and funding for childcare training in our communities. The burden of infant and toddler care falls unduly to women, so programs that can provide subsidized care, third-shift care, and quality coverage for children under age three are necessary to providing equal work opportunities for women in our state.
What’s on your list for NC in 2015? Anything you don’t want to see as lawmakers head back to Raleigh?