ICYMI: North Carolina Sides With Gov. Cooper on Medicaid Expansion, Investing In Education
In the ongoing budget battle between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican North Carolina Legislature, a new poll shows that the majority of North Carolina residents believe Medicaid should be expanded. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said Medicaid should be expanded in North Carolina, compared to only 30 percent who say the program should remain as is. Medicaid expansion would create nearly 40,000 more jobs and keep rural hospitals open.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Dan Forest, is acting against the interests of North Carolina by opposing Medicaid expansion and failing to prioritize investments in education. Members of his own party like Graham County Commissioner Dale Wiggins pleaded with GOP lawmakers to support Medicaid expansion saying, “We believe we have a responsibility to look after our citizens. It’s a human being thing to us, not a political thing.”
Donald Trump won Graham County by 80 points in the 2016 election, making it one of North Carolina’s most conservative regions.
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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has been without a budget for almost nine months because of a stalemate between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-controlled legislature over Medicaid, teacher pay and business tax cuts. A new WRAL News poll shows Cooper is winning the popular vote in the ongoing battle.
Almost three-quarters of those polled said they would prefer school funding be increased rather than taxes cut, and a majority called for expanding Medicaid coverage to more of the state’s working poor, according to the exclusive poll by SurveyUSA.
GOP lawmakers included a rollback of North Carolina’s franchise tax in the $24 billion state budget they passed last summer, saying it would save businesses statewide an estimated $250 million. But Cooper vetoed the budget, saying corporate taxes had been cut enough in recent years and that it was time to invest more in education.
Support for Cooper’s stance cut across all demographics in the poll. Even more than three in five of Republicans questioned and a majority of those who identify themselves as conservative ranked funding schools ahead of cutting taxes in the budget debate.
To get around the budget veto, lawmakers passed a so-called “mini budget” in November that provided average 3.9 percent raises to teachers over two years – it would jump to 4.4 if Democrats helped override the budget veto – and 4 percent for other school personnel. But Cooper vetoed that measure as well, calling the raises “paltry.” He called for raising teacher salaries by an average of 9.1 percent over two years in his budget proposal.
Seventy percent of those polled backed 9 percent raises for teachers, compared with 21 percent who favored 4 percent raises.
Fifty-seven percent of those polled said Medicaid should be expanded in North Carolina, compared with 30 percent who say the program’s enrollment guidelines should remain as is and 12 percent who weren’t sure.
“It’s clear that Gov. Cooper is fighting for the things that matter to hard-working families across North Carolina: good jobs, higher teacher pay and access to affordable health care,” Cooper spokeswoman Dory MacMillan said in a statement. “Legislative leaders should stop trying to override the budget veto and start negotiating with the governor to get the job done.”