By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
September 18, 2015
RALEIGH – After three deadline extensions, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a $21.7 billion budget this week. HB 97 – 2015 Appropriations Act passed in the Senate 37-13 with 3 Democrats voting with Republicans on the measure. It passed in the House by an 81-33 margin with 11 Democrats voting for it.
Highlights of the measure include a modest and responsible 3.1% spending increase, and its reduction of personal income taxes. The bill invests millions of dollars in education, while also expanding school choice. It also provides additional millions for transportation needs to maintain safe roads and bridges. Perhaps its boldest feature would be its investment of approximately a quarter billion to restructure and reform the state’s problematic Medicaid program.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said that he breathed a sigh of relief after noting the budget bill that passed excluded two serious concerns.
“The final draft of the state’s budget didn’t include any lottery expansion,” he said.
The Senate’s version of the state’s budget provided an expansion for lottery advertising from 1% of annual lottery revenues to 1.5%. That represented a 50% increase of 9 million additional dollars spent on lottery ads. Moreover, the Senate’s version directed the Lottery Commission to introduce “E-Instant Games”. The proposal projected a gain of $15.5 million in revenue from the purchase of online lottery tickets.
“I was jubilant to see lawmakers would, at least for this year, abandon the failed experiment of government sponsored gambling. God willing, they will eventually, and entirely at some point, reject it completely. The lottery is a blatantly dishonest system making losers of many of our state’s citizens. Fundamentally – inherently – it’s immoral,” said Dr. Creech.
“The whole enterprise is built on taking away people’s freedom. The lottery can’t make a substantial profit without creating addicts to gambling. E-Instant Games would have essentially put the lottery on every smart phone, in every bedroom, and every office in the state. It would have opened the door to online gambling, which would have provided a new venue for underage gambling,” he said. “All of this just exacerbates problem gambling, fleecing the poor, you name it.”
Dr. Creech said the second concern removed from the newly adopted budget was funding for Planned Parenthood.
The budget includes a provision that reads “no State funds shall be allocated to renewing or extending existing contracts or entering into new contracts for the provision of family services, pregnancy prevention activities, or adolescent parenting programs with any provider that performs abortions.” Language of this nature in the bill is clearly meant to prevent taxpayer monies from going to organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Rep. Skip Stam, (R-Wake), North Carolina’s premier pro-life champion told WRAL News it would be better if teens got their pregnancy prevention and sexual education services from other services, like local public health departments.
Stam told WRAL, “You don’t want to have people who are vulnerable, like young women, having to go to abortion clinics to get family planning because they like to sell their product. They make a whole lot more money on abortion than they do on anything else. That’s where their big money is.”
Planned Parenthood recently came under serious fire when the release of undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress revealed the organization was harvesting and selling body parts of aborted babies.
“We should all be thankful,” said Dr. Creech. “The leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly is being true to its word. Back in August, Speaker Tim Moore promised he would work to include language in the final draft of the state’s budget that would exclude funding to groups involved in, as he rightly put it, ‘the reprehensible practice of profiting from the sale of a baby’s remains.’ Thank God there is no funding of this nature in the 2015 budget.”
Better still, monies have been allocated, $1.3 million, to be exact, in recurring funds for maternity homes across the state, and $300,000 funding for crisis pregnancy centers.
Governor Pat McCrory signed the legislation on Friday.