Let’s get it out of the way up front: Nobody listens to us — nobody that can do anything about anything, anyway. If they did, there would be no wish list coming forth from the editorial desk of Triad City Beat.
But here we are, putting together a docket for our leaders in Raleigh and elsewhere that we think would make life better for everyone.
First off, our state needs to expand Medicaid in 2023. We are one of the last states — one of 11 — that have yet to take advantage of this provision from the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010. We have already left $5.9 billion in federal dollars on the table by not doing so; enacting it would immediately make more than 600,000 North Carolinians eligible for federal healthcare; and our abstention is starting to make us look like a bunch of dopes. Even Louisiana has come around.
On the local level, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point should use ARPA funds or otherwise create budget space to relieve citizens of medical debt. It’s happening all over, most notably in Toledo, Ohio, where city council voted to approve $800,000 of ARPA funds to buy $240 million worth of medical debt for people in the city.
North Carolina’s status as a haven for safe abortions should be protected at every turn. Already more than half of the clients at our state’s clinics are from out of state. They need us here.
NC needs to legalize recreational weed — none of this medical marijuana bullshit. Virginia’s dispensaries are set to open this year, creating panic in the black market on this side of the state line. Let’s keep those dollars in house, and you can tax the shit out of it like all the other states do. We promise: No one will mind.
We need more trains in NC: fast ones that can bring us between the cities all day long; light rail that connects residential communities to downtown districts; freight trains that take trucks off the highways.
And while we’re at it, we think that bus service in every major city in NC should be free.
We need to get serious about the rising cost of housing in the Triad, driven in part by corporations and hedge funds buying up housing stock, but also by the proliferation of short-term rentals. Another factor: We have a lot of new residents who telecommute, earning their salaries from places with higher wage floors than this part of the state.
Cities can do their part to create more affordable housing — all of them have extensive real estate holdings and resources that could be redirected towards this evolving crisis. It’s just a matter of priorities.
The state must make good on its promise by releasing the funds required by the Leandro decision, starting with the $677 million it shorted the public schools in our state just this year. Driving our public-education system into the ground benefits no one.
We’d prefer our state legislature to operate on a plane above the national rhetoric, avoiding the petty, partisan battles that inflame supporters but also halt the wheels of progress. We have already wasted so much time trying to turn back progress! But we hold little hope. NC has become a sandbox for the establishment of one-party, minority rule. That call is coming from inside the house.
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