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Must Reads

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Gov. McCrory concedes election in video message

After nearly a month of contesting the results of the Nov. 8 election, Gov. Pat McCrory conceded to Attorney General Roy Cooper in a video message Monday.

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A simple Thanksgiving week policy objective Make sure North Carolinians have access to food

When North Carolinians are able to purchase and eat healthy and nutritious food, they fuel active and healthy lifestyles, stay engaged at work and school, and boost the economy through their grocery shopping. Every night, almost 630,000 North Carolina households don’t have enough to eat. North Carolina has the 8th highest rate of food insecurity in the nation. Homes that have low food security often must make tough choices about the amount and quality of food they are able to provide their families. Homes that are considered to have “very low” food security often miss meals. According to the USDA, in the past year more than 90 percent of these families worried that food would run out; nearly 80 percent could not afford a balanced meal; and individuals in 96 percent of homes with very low food security skipped meals in order to make food last longer.

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Ten hard truths about North Carolina’s struggling economy

There’s been a great deal of back and forth in various media outlets in recent weeks about the true state of the North Carolina economy. In a powerful op-ed that appeared in Raleigh’s News & Observer last week, N.C. Budget and Tax Center Director Alexandra Sirota detailed why the so-called “Carolina Comeback” is only a rumor for millions of average people and how the state’s obsession with tax cuts has produced precious little in the way of measurable benefits.

As she observed:

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New issue of “Prosperity Watch” sheds light on conflict between Trump and McCrory

A recent story on the national news website Politico highlighted an increasingly notable divide in the way the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump and Governor Pat McCrory are characterizing the state of the North Carolina economy. This is from “Trump message clashes with GOP's most-endangered governor”:

“North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is desperate to talk about his economic achievements after a year mired in contentious debate over social issues, including the state’s transgender ‘bathroom law.’

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The overwhelming case for raising North Carolina’s minimum wage

Hike would be good for lifting incomes and improving the state’s economy

The North Carolina Justice Center, the state’s leading anti-poverty advocacy organization, has unveiled a new and regular feature it’s calling "How to Build an Economy that Works for All." Its objective: to outline a series of policy priorities and proposals that both policymakers and average North Carolinians can learn about and promote throughout the remainder of the election season and during the run-up to the 2017 legislative session.

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It’s finally that time: What you need to know about voting in the November election

To many North Carolinians following the 2016 election campaign, it may have started to seem that the “fun” will never end. The campaign has been extraordinarily long, contentious and, for many, difficult to endure. Happily, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Absentee voting has already started and in-person early voting starts in less than two weeks (on October 20). That said, with all of the controversy surrounding the election and the rules that will be used for voting, many North Carolinians – even those in the know – can be forgiven if they’re confused about where things stand.

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New and damning report: NC poverty is still higher than before the recession and worse than the national average

Poverty in North Carolina is still higher than it was prior to the recession, according to a new report, with the state facing higher rates of poverty, deep poverty, and child poverty than most of the U.S., as well as stark divides across racial, gender, age, and geographical demographics. North Carolina’s poverty rate was 16.4 percent in 2015, a drop from the 17.2 percent rate the previous year but still 15 percent higher than when the Great Recession hit in 2007, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. Across the state, 1.6 million North Carolinians live in poverty – meaning a family of four living on $24,250 or less per year – and find affording the basics such as rent, food, and utilities to be a daily challenge.

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Hunger in North Carolina: The latest scandalous numbers

Every night, people in almost 630,000 North Carolina households don’t have enough to eat. North Carolina has the 8th highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, and according to a Gallup study, Winston-Salem and Greensboro have the 4th and 5th highest rates of hunger across the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas.

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Report: Funding for charter schools in NC is already more than fair

Despite repeated demands from advocates and some elected officials for “fair funding” of North Carolina charter schools, local spending in charter schools in fact exceeds that of traditional public schools, according to a new report from the NC Justice Center entitled “Fair Funding for Charter Schools: Mission Accomplished.”

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State of Working North Carolina 2016: Don’t call It a comeback

Hard work is supposed to provide the income to allow people to get by and set their children up for future success. North Carolina policymakers have violated that promise, both with their policy choices that make it more difficult for North Carolinians to connect to good jobs and with their failure to enact the policies that make sure work translates into greater economic security. The national economic recovery began in 2009, but it has yet to reach North Carolinians across the state. Too many workers have failed to find work or left the labor market for lack of jobs in their community. Far too many who are working find their wages falling short of what it takes to make ends meet and otherwise contribute to their communities’ improvement.

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Education update: The hard numbers on teacher salaries and public school investments

Public education is on the front burner of the public policy debate these days. With both the new school year and the 2016 election campaign now in full swing, all sorts of numbers and claims are being thrown around by advocates, candidates elected officials.

Fortunately, experts in the North Carolina Justice Center’s Education and Law and Budget and Tax Center projects have prepared the following two, “just the facts” essays that lay out the hard data in simple, easy-to-understand language.

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Who says we’re losing the war on poverty?

Myth-busting data demonstrate that the safety net makes a huge difference in NC

It’s an article of faith on the modern American Right that America’s “war on poverty” is a lost and hopeless cause. For decades now, conservative politicians and commentators have been churning out essays and speeches in which they claim that public safety net programs are useless. Some even go so far as to accuse safety net spending proponents of fraud by claiming that the real purpose of such programs is to make politicians look as if they’re as if they’re helping the poor even when they really don’t.

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Tax policies designed for the top 1%

New report explains the real impact of conservative tax cuts on North Carolinians and their government

Alexandra Sirota, Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, has authored a new and damning new report about the cumulative impact of the tax cuts and tax shifts enacted by the state’s conservative political leaders in recent years. The report, “The road to nowhere good for North Carolina,” provides a powerful and easy-to-digest critique of the ongoing ideologically-driven efforts to phase out North Carolina’s corporate and personal income taxes – a plan sometimes referred to as the “road to zero.”

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The destructive impact of North Carolina’s inadequate minimum wage

The failure to enact a robust state minimum wage and a lack of income growth for most workers are leaving far too many North Carolinians struggling to get by. According to an analysis conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 120,000 North Carolinians earned at or below the minimum wage last year, an increase of more than two and half times from several years ago.

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Damning report documents new state budget’s inadequacy, lack of vision

It’s been nearly two weeks since Governor McCrory signed the 2017 state budget into law and most North Carolinians can probably be forgiven if they haven’t given the matter a whole of lot of thought in the interim. Fortunately, however, some people have been giving the matter a lot of thought and consideration – most notably, the experts at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. While many others have been enjoying vacations and a break from the Legislative Building wars, BTC analysts have been poring through the details, crunching the numbers, developing projections and comparisons, uncovering hidden policy decisions and just generally getting a complete handle on what it is that state leaders have left us with.

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North Carolina’s incredible shrinking state budget

Short-changing public investments is no way to grow a state

[Editor’s note: North Carolina’s conservative elected leaders have changed their tune in recent months. After railing for years about “runaway spending” and having slashed state budget appropriations in virtually every area of government service, this year – an important election year – officials have suddenly started bragging about teacher pay raises and other efforts to boost essential services like mental health programs.

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