The Republicans in the state senate made school children the whipping boys for Senate Democrats. When Democrats, who are deeply in the minority, held up passing the budget in an attempt to add amendments that would provide more funding for schools, Republicans jammed through an amendment of their own stripping education funding in Democratic districts. In other words, the Republican Senate took out their frustrations on school kids.
According to the News and Observer, the GOP amendment “strips $316,646 from two early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties, and it specifically bans state funding from supporting a summer science, math and technology program called Eastern North Carolina STEM.”
Understand that Washington and Northampton Counties are two of the state’s poorest areas. They both have large African-American populations. There’s very little political risk to the GOP but there is serious damage to people in these areas if these cuts stay in the budget that comes out of the House.
To Republicans, the move is just political gamesmanship and they’re punishing their Democratic opponents. To the people affected, the cuts are real and they hurt struggling communities. For a party that’s regularly accused of lacking empathy, the GOP seems pretty tone deaf. That’s what a gerrymandered majority will do for you.
The punishment they meted out to those counties, though, is really just a reflection of the GOP’s priorities in general. Since taking power in 2011, they’ve shown little concern about the poorest citizens of our state. They kicked thousands off of unemployment insurance when we didn’t have the jobs to absorb them. They refused to expand Medicaid for 500,000 even though the federal government was picking up the tab. They cut funding for public schools, leaving us near the bottom in terms of per pupil spending. They raised taxes on services like auto repairs that disproportionally hurt low-income families while cutting income taxes which disproportionally benefit our wealthiest citizens.
In punishing Democratic Senators for interfering with their political agenda, Republican really just reminded us of their political priorities. They are far more concerned with putting money into the pockets of the rich than helping the poor climb out of poverty. Their disregard for the people who struggle the most should be embarrassing but clearly, in North Carolina, the Republicans have no shame.