Sam is a strong supporter of public schools and higher pay for teachers. He believes a strong public education system is necessary to strengthen North Carolina’s economy. He also supports “calendar flexibility,” letting local school districts, not the state, decide when schools are in session.
Today North Carolina spends almost $4,000 less per student than the national average, and we are ranked #28 out of 50 states in terms of K-12 educational outcomes, per U.S. News & World Report. Our children deserve better. We need to raise education spending to at least the national average to ensure our children have the opportunities they deserve and for North Carolina to prosper.
Republicans in the state legislature, have chosen cutting taxes for large corporations over funding our public schools. They have created an unfair and unequal system for financing public education, forcing counties to raise property taxes to pay for schools. As a result, education funding varies significantly between rural and suburban counties. That’s not acceptable.
North Carolina’s high-tech economy in the Research Triangle area has been built directly on the research and trained technologists in our public universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, along with private Duke University. Virtually every company in North Carolina’s most vibrant region has a direct tie to one of these universities. We cannot ignore higher education.
Between 2008 and 2018, public higher education funding was cut 18.6 percent per student. These cuts threaten to end our record of high quality public universities that are an engine for our economy and to pass unreasonable costs on to our students. Between 2008 and 2018 tuition rates at our public colleges and universities grew, on average, by 45 percent. Without a commitment to fully funding our public higher education system, we risk harming our economic recovery.
North Carolina deserves an economy that benefits everyone, not just wealthy individuals and giant corporations. We need to support both our small businesses and workers.
Instead of tax breaks for large corporations that pay out huge bonuses to wealthy CEOs, Sam wants to provide tax breaks for real small businesses so they can hire more workers and expand. For our workers, we need to raise the minimum wage to ensure they can support their families.
Without adequate investment in education, we will not have a workforce ready for jobs in the 21st century. We are shortchanging our people–the jobs of the future will require employees to engage in lifelong learning.
Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care and that has never been clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest step we can take is expanding Medicaid, which would provide health care to almost 400,000 North Carolinians and create almost 40,000 new health care jobs in North Carolina. It could also produce $100 million in savings in North Carolina’s budget in the first two years, according to a 2019 report from North Carolina Justice Center. It’s a win-win proposition for our state.
We’re all going to need to work together to bring North Carolina back from COVID-19. That means putting aside partisan arguments and positions and working together to find common ground and solutions that will help our neighbors.
Early in the coronavirus outbreak, Sam’s distillery, which produces vodka from rice, switched production to make hand sanitizer supplying the National Guard, the nonprofit serving homeless Oak City Cares, and the WakeMed campus in Raleigh, among others.