Friday, May 26, 2006

Visitors This Week At The Legislature

On Tuesday, folks from the N.C. Child Care Coalition visited my office during the Smart Start Annual Advocacy Day. Smart Start is designed to provide quality child care, child health care, and family support services for all children from birth to kindergarten to make sure that every child arrives at school healthy and ready to learn. North Carolina has one of the fastest growing populations of children age birth to five, so it is crucial to expand Smart Start Funding.

In addition to appeals for increased funding for Smart Start, the group also advocated for increasing funding for the Child Care Subsidy, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarships, and many other local projects throughout the state.

Tuesday was also the first “People of Color Justice and Unity Legislative Day” at the General Assembly. The coalition includes the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southerners for Economic Justice and the Triangle Urban League. The purpose of their advocacy day was to bring attention to the group’s goals which include raising the state’s minimum wage, help for small businesses, increased funding for the state Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, a two-year moratorium on the death penalty, and stiffer penalties for sex offenders.

On Wednesday, about 150 state employees converged on the General Assembly, seeking to end disparities in pay raises between rank-and-file workers, public school teachers, and others. Governor Mike Easley offered a 4 percent increase for most state employees, while the state Senate recommended 5 percent. But both Governor Easley and the Senate want public school teachers to have an 8 percent increase. State employees are backing a House bill that would increase all state employee salaries — including teachers — by 7 percent.

Wednesday was also Clean Water Lobby Day, and advocates from across the state lobbied lawmakers on issues ranging from well water protection and better management of our stormwater to better coastal management.

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