Today we learned that VIVA, the Voter ID law passed last year in the North Carolina General Assembly, found a number of devastating vulnerabilities in our current election system. The State Board of Elections gave a report today with the following information: -765 voters in North Carolina match the exact first and last name, Date of Birth, and last four digits of their Social Security number of people who voted in NC and another state in the 2012 general election.-35,750 voters with the same first and last name and DOB match voters from other states that voted in NC and another state in the 2012 general election.-155,692 voters had the exact match of first and last names, DOB and last four digits of SSN and were registered to vote in NC and another state. NC is not the latest date of registration or activity.-81 deceased voters have voter history later than the date of their death. We have fraud and error vulnerabilities in our election system. The fact that we potentially have thousands of people voting in more than one state greatly concerns me. A vote allowed through error dilutes legal votes just as much as fraudulent votes. As I've stated all along, I am committed to preserving the integrity of North Carolina elections and asking folks to present photo identification at the polls is just the first step in this process.
The new leadership in North Carolina saw employment continue to rise throughout the last year. January's unemployment numbers show that the state gained over 17,000 jobs and improved from a 6.9% unemployment rate to 6.7%. In fact, North Carolina is approaching the national average at 6.6% of North Carolin's population unemployed. Over 45,000 jobs were added throughout the last year, which equates to a 2.1 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate. Keep an eye out for the Harnett county unemployment numbers this week. I know that with economically sound policies we can make NC break the national average for unemployment.
Tax ReformHB 998-Tax Simplification and Reduction Act-This tax reform package will spur growth within North Carolina, while attracting new businesses and individuals to relocate here because of the move to a flat income tax rate of 5.9%.-Over the next few years, the corporate income tax will be reduced to 3%. All the while, making certain that revenue and spending obligations will be met.-Protects social security income, non-profit tax status and caps the state gas tax.-This fiscally responsible plan is one of the first steps we have taken to provide tax relief to the hard working families of North Carolina. read more...
American Insights, a new polling outfit, found that "NC Republicans approach new legislative session on even footing, tied with Democrats on legislative ballot." Republicans and Democrats are dead even at 41%, while 30% would definitely vote for the Republican and 26% would definitely back the Democrat. Their poll surveyed 611 people on their general feelings about the General Assembly.
In response to the recent coal ash spill, Representative Lewis would like to ensure everyone that he realizes the urgency of the response and the importance of the issue moving forward. With that in mind, Rep. Lewis will work tirelessly with the leaders in both the House and the Senate to develop a plan going forward that ensures a safer coal ash disposal process across the state. Rep. Lewis feels confident that during the upcoming legislative session work will be done to protect the integrity of the North Carolina’s waterways. “The damage to the ecosystem as a result of the coal ash spill on the Dan River is both devastating and intolerable. I fully recognize the need for the legislature to act in whatever means possible to ensure we prevent another catastrophe like this adversely affecting our fragile environment,” stated Rep. Lewis. Finally, Rep. Lewis is committed to protecting North Carolina’s natural resources, including our water supply, and will fully support a thorough evaluation regarding the best way to address the storage of coal ash. We must take the necessary steps so that a disaster like what happened on the Dan River does not happen again, to the extent possible.
I find it extremely hypocritical that when nearly 70 percent of North Carolinians across all political spectrums support the idea that one present photo identification when going to the polls, the NC NAACP has filed suit in court to block this common-sense idea. However, the NC NAACP requires their protesters to maintain valid photo identification on their person throughout the march. The idea that Chairman William Barber and his followers find it more important to carry their photo identification with them when marching than when electing the President of the United States is reprehensible.
Lillington, NC- Today, State House Representative David Lewis of Dunn, NC announced his bid for re-election by filing at the Harnett County Board of Elections. "With the encouragement from family, friends and supporters, I have decided to seek a seventh term in the North Carolina House of Representatives," remarked and enthusiastic Lewis. Representative Lewis was the lead negotiator for the House during last year's historic tax reform legislation. As a result of Rep. Lewis tireless dedication to improving the lives of each and every hard working North Carolinian, the first step in comprehensive tax reform was taken. The legislation will reduce the tax burden on all families across the state, brought fairness to the tax code by reducing loopholes, and introduced simplicity to an outdated tax code that remained unchanged for nearly nine decades. Lewis is currently serving his sixth term in the House and had this to say about his campaign: “I am proud of the work we have been able to accomplish so far here in North Carolina; however, we recognize there is still much more to be done. The people of Harnett County have entrusted me with a great responsibility and I will continue do my best to represent and advocate for each and every one of them. North Carolina is second to none and I know that with a continued focus on eliminating burdensome regulations, continuing the work on ensuring the tax code and fair and simple, and making education work for the students we can ensure that North Carolina remains the preeminent place for hard working families to raise their children.” Representative Lewis is currently the Chairman of the House Finance and Elections Committees where legislation like Tax Reform and Voter ID originated. Representative Lewis also remarked: “North Carolina’s future is bright. Our unemployment rate continues to decline as more jobs are created both in Harnett County as well as across the state. Business and families will now see more disposable income in their pockets as a result of the hard work and dedication by the Republican led legislature in both 2011 and 2013 tax reform measures. Furthermore, we are instilling a desire for innovation and efficiency within state government. Most of all, I see it as my duty to get government out of the way and allow each human to reach their God given potential.”
As many of you know, our Governor and Legislative leaders announced plans to get NC teacher starting pay at or above the starting pay in our neighboring states. Except for the small raise Republicans pushed through in the 2011-2012 school year, teacher pay has been frozen for about 7 years. Yes, that means that despite the pontificating of former Gov. Jim Hunt, his Democrats-who have ruled our state for all but three of the past 100 + years, did not get teacher pay to the national average-or put an honest focus on it. The most neglected group of teachers are those who began teaching during the past 7 years. The plan to bring their pay up is a good one. This week’s announcement to bring entry-level pay to the top tier in the Southeast is our initial step in this process and we are choosing to address early-teacher pay – one of the most pressing issues facing North Carolina’s teacher pay system. And while the teacher’s union has been busy spreading misleading information about the raises announced this week – it’s important that you hear from me that there will be no veteran 9th year teacher earning less than an entry-level teacher. By the end of the two-year plan – all of North Carolina’s teachers will make at least the $35,000 base pay, closer to the national average than we have seen in years. It is also important to note taxpayers in Harnett County add an additional $2,000 supplement to most teacher salaries. This is above the portion of salaries funded by the state While raising the entry-level pay is the starting point, it’s just as important for us to address all teacher salaries as our budget process becomes clear. We are increasingly confident that because of our improving economy, we can give raises to all teachers and state employees this year and fund the proposed raises from additional and available revenues that will not require a tax increase. This is the first step of the shared commitment among the state’s Republican leadership. I'm happy to get answers to questions. As always, I appreciate those people educating our children. I know there are many other factors needed to help boost morale and help educate our kids. Since pay has generated the most recent inquiries, I thought I'd start with this.