Chris Fitzsimon: So where are the jobs the budget was supposed to create?

By Chris Fitzsimon

Columnist

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That Republican state budget that was supposed to create all those jobs continues to have exactly the opposite effect. The Employment Security Commission announced today that the state’s unemployment rate increased to 10.1 percent in July.

The headline of the news release says it all. “Public Sector Losses Lead to Net Jobs decrease.”

State government jobs decreased by 300 and 11,800 local government jobs were lost the release said, most of them in education, including teachers.

Those would be the teachers that Republican legislative leaders promised that they protected in the budget.

The folks at the Pope Civitas Institute are trying their best to keep voters confused about the budget and effect it is having on jobs and education.

That is not a surprise. The Civitasers aren’t exactly famous for the running the most objective issue poll in the world. Even many conservatives privately admit that many of the Civitas poll questions are obviously written in a way to all but guarantee the desired result.

Then the slanted findings can be trumpeted in press releases to media outlets around the state who often print the results without any qualification at all and voila, the public is misinformed.

But the Civitasers managed to outdo themselves and reach a new level of absurdity in their July poll with a question about the state budget.

Here is the question:

The Legislature recently passed a state budget that eliminated North Carolina’s $2.5 billion budget deficit, added 1,100 new teachers over two years to decrease class size in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade and lowered taxes by $1 billion. Some of the savings came from reducing spending and the number of state employee positions, though some of those positions are currently vacant. With that in mind, would you be more or less likely to vote for a legislator who voted for this budget?

With that in mind indeed. That is not a poll question, it is a right-wing propaganda statement. The Republican budget slashed teachers, as the new unemployment figures show, and it made massive cuts to everything from services to crime victims to help for people with a mental illness.

It made the biggest cuts in history to the community colleges and the university system, and abolished popular and effective programs like the N.C. Teaching Fellows and the drug treatment courts. It cut funding for early childhood programs that even Republicans admit are effective and crippled the state’s efforts to protect the environment.

There’s plenty more of course and none of it showed up in the question in the Civitas push poll.

The folks on right-wing avenue know people don’t like the budget decisions the General Assembly made this summer and are desperate to get some headlines saying that the majority of voters approve of the budget or in this case say they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who supported it.

A recent survey by Public Policy Polling shows the reason for their concern, asking simply if voters supported or opposed the budget the General Assembly passed.

Forty-seven percent of voters said they opposed it while 20 percent supported it. The rest were not sure.

The same poll found that 45 percent of voters thought the Republican budget would lead to job losses and 18 percent thought it would create jobs.

The 45 percent are right. The budget is costing the state jobs, thousands of them. So far, the push polls are having little effect.

Meanwhile, former House member Russell Capps announced this week that he is interested in returning to the General Assembly and is considering a run for an open seat created in the new gerrymandered House districts drawn by the Republican leadership this summer.

Capps served in the House from 1994-2006 and was an original far right tea partier, railing against almost every public investment from early childhood programs to local school construction.

He also distinguished himself by introducing legislation banning the teaching of evolution in public schools and said that the sins of the people of Louisiana were to blame for Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans.

Crazy stuff indeed, but scarier still is that Capps would feel right at home in the House these days.

Chris Fitzsimon is director of NC Policy Watch

Comments

No Time For This

I have no time right now to digest what you're saying because I'm too busy looking for the Hope & Change the current president promised.

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