In November, North Carolina state employees received some unexpected swag in their employee mailboxes: a genuine North Carolina logo lapel pin. The pin serves as “a token of appreciation for all that you do to make North Carolina a place where we are all inspired to do, see, create, experience, and achieve more.”
Heads were being scratched all over the state. We have real problems in North Carolina, problems that won’t be fixed by spending $1.5 million of taxpayer money on lapel pins and rebranding the state logo.
The reaction from state employees has been mixed, to say the least. At offices and universities across the state, employees have expressed bewilderment, anger, and indignation about the pins.
Here are just a few of the reactions on Twitter:
“ UNC faculty, whose salaries have been flat for years, get one time bonus of $750, while chancellors get pay increases up to 18%… Also, we all got a NC lapel pin from the Governor. #notjoking”
“Did the governor hand them their lapel pins personally? I certainly hope so. For all others, there is a movement on at least one campus to send this all-too-generous gift back to McCrory. I thought I would share, in case others want to collect them in their own offices and ship them back.”
A faculty member at Western North Carolina University wrote an open letter to Governor McCrory on her blogpost, citing her reasons for not wearing the pin:
“I’m not proud of my state at present, not willing to don an “NC” pin when I think that those letters rather stand for “Nefarious Conservatism” or “No Compensation” – particularly with regard to our state’s educators.”
Instead of sending NC employees lapel pins, here’s what we could have spent the money on:
- Keeping NC teachers. Fifteen-percent of NC teachers left their jobs last year, citing dissatisfaction as their main reason. Their pay is low, they are hamstrung with regards to resources, and are limited in what they are allowed to say. To top it all off, instead of an actual pay raise, teachers were instead given a one-time bonus of $750 dollars, which happened during the same legislative session that saw tax benefits increase for the wealthy.
- Not raising the sales tax. While personal income taxes were reduced from 5.5 percent to 5 percent, which again mainly benefits the wealthiest North Carolinians, sales tax has been expanded to now include maintenance, repair services, and installations. Sales tax has long been seen as a burden on the lower income brackets, and this extension increasingly places pressure on those who are already feeling the financial pinch. Need that clunker of a car that barely runs repaired again? Well, it is going to cost you more.
- Helping NC’s immigrant population. When HB 318 was signed into law, it restricted access to health care, education, and other services for immigrants living in North Carolina.
- Almost anything else. This money could have been spent on almost anything else and it would have benefited NC residents more. Make public transportation free for a day. Give every child a book. Donate the money to homeless shelters. I really mean it. Please do something worthwhile with my taxpayer money!