Candidate profile: Joe Sam Queen

Rep. Joe Sam Queen

Rep, Michele Presnell is correct about one thing. The budget is our most important task as state legislators. On her other points, however, she offers false choices, pitting our constituents and their needs against one another. There is simply a better way.

When we gather to create our state budget, we are attempting to allocate our tax dollars effectively, efficiently, and wisely to meet the essential needs of North Carolina.

There are three big ideas that distinguish the Republican Conference Budget from the Governor’s Proposed Compromise Budget. They represent a difference of $9 billion in investments to serve our growing state’s needs.

We are not leaving 500,000 citizens behind without healthcare. We are putting our $5 billion that we have already paid to work, providing Medicaid Expansion here at home.

We are not wasting 4 percent of our State Recurring Revenue for political pork via the SCIF SCAM. We are going to put a $3.5 Billion Invest NC Bond Package on the ballot for voter approval.

We are not throwing the wealthiest large corporations another half a billion dollars in tax breaks, on the backs of hard-working North Carolinians. We are investing in teachers and state employees.

Rep. Presnell asked her readers to imagine Gov. Cooper driving up to a DOT worker to announce that state employees will not receive raises because of Medicaid Expansion. That is incredibly deceptive.

Rep. Presnell forgot to mention that Gov. Cooper’s Compromise Budget includes $667 million more for state employees compared to the Republican Conference Budget.

She forgot to mention that the raises in the Republican Budget would only go to 27 percent of state employees, while Gov. Cooper’s Proposed Compromise Budget would extend those raises to 100 percent of state employees.

  • Rep. Presnell mentioned just under $40 millionin funding to her district in the current Republican Conference Budget. Those dollars are incredibly important, and they all go to fund essential infrastructure and services, which is why every single one of those dollars is also included in Gov. Cooper’s proposed compromise budget.

But let me also remind Rep. Presnell that Medicaid Expansion alone would bring an additional $40 million to her district, and another $40 million to my district and to every district across our state. This one policy would bring more money to her district than every single line item mentioned, for NO NEW TAXES.

And Rep. Presnell doesn’t even mention the differences in teacher pay between the proposed budgets. Gov. Cooper’s Compromise Budget includes an average teacher pay raise of 8.5%, up from 3.8% in the Republican conference budget.

And it is important to note that these raises, for teachers and state employees, all come without new taxes. This is what we can accomplish as a state when we refuse to cut taxes for large corporations on the backs of everyday citizens.

In fact, Gov. Cooper’s Proposed Compromise Budget includes the same tax cut for hard-working North Carolinians that is in the conference budget

The problem is that the Republican leadership has flat out refused to come to the table for good faith negotiations that would move our state forward. The Governor is at the table. The Democratic Leadership is at the table. Great options are on the table.

The governor took the best of every budget proposal so far, and he has proposed a good-faith compromise budget that includes the priorities of both parties, because reaching across the aisle is what responsible legislators do. He is ready to negotiate this new proposal with the Legislative Leadership.

It is time for our Republican leadership to join us at the table, in good faith, to pass a compromise budget that works for everyone in our Great State.

We are still waiting for the Republicans to show up.

  • The $40 million in funding that Representative Presnell tallied in her op-ed deserves an asterisk because a large portion of it is SCIF SCAM money, which is not certain, transparent, timely, or fair. This money is in budget pools that the legislative leadership gets to allocate however it wishes. Projects are laid out, but none of the money is truly specific, to her district or mine.

The projects mentioned are purely speculative. By contrast, the Governor’s Invest NC Bond is specific, transparent, certain, and fair. It would be voted on by the citizens at the polls, and the funding, spread fairly across our state, is guaranteed.

Rep. Joe Sam Queen represents the 119 district.

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