Editorial: Assistance hotline red, not blue

May. 23, 2013 @ 03:16 PM

With a week left in the month, and the end of June looming as the deadline, our state’s budget proposals are leaving the Tri-County region on the outside looking in.

For those wanting to call someone, Reps. Nathan Baskerville and Winkie Wilkins will be glad to listen and talk, as will Sens. Angela Bryant and Floyd McKissick Jr. But the hotline needed is red, not blue.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly won’t be budging when it comes to decreases in funding for the N.C. Rural Center and the Golden LEAF Foundation. Both are critical to poverty-stricken and rural areas, and the Tri-County doesn’t hide those.

No sooner than the Senate had given a tentative approval to its budget on Wednesday did Sens. Martin Nesbitt, Michael Walters, Clark Jenkins and Bryant send along a statement denouncing the budget.

“These cuts do very little to help build capacity of rural areas in preparing communities needing the most assistance to participate in economic development activities,” Bryant was quoted in the statement.

Telling representatives who agree is good, but telling the Republicans who voted on party lines is where the difference can be made. And the calls should start early and last a month because these are not even the hot-button topics headed for haggling.

Uphill battle?

And then some.

The Senate and House are more likely to spend the bulk of their time battling over Special Superior Court judges, teacher tenure and grading public school performance. Throw in the governor’s proposal and the arguing will include state employee raises, teacher positions, the umbrella entity covering the State Bureau of Investigation and out-of-state tuition — just to name a few.

The rural communities of the state are at risk, and finding something to hang on to is not going to be easy. Republicans and Democrats each had pros and cons with the governor’s proposal, one that sought to keep the state fiscally responsible and positively recovering.

Golden LEAF isn’t going anywhere, nor is the N.C. Rural Center. Each will have money, but the state government’s share is set to dramatically scale back. They are a sacrifice within a solution.

Democrats in Raleigh won’t get either to the table. Rural people are the only chance.