All too often we read about the inability of our elected leaders to reach compromise and work together. Since being elected to serve as your state senator in Raleigh, I have reached across the aisle to do what I believe is best for our five-county district and for our state. In fact, as a member of the Rural and Agricultural Caucus in the General Assembly, I recently had an opportunity to work with my friend, Senator Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, and others on a bill that seeks to cut through unnecessary regulations to promote our agricultural economy and to protect our farmers from frivolous or unnecessary lawsuits.
As the bill was headed to the Senate floor, I heard from several citizens and journalists in our district who expressed concern that the bill might not provide sufficient public notification of potential environmental risks to food supply. Senator Jackson, staff, and I worked together to amend the bill to increase transparency and ensure the public’s right to know. One of the newspapers in my district, the Richmond Daily Journal wrote an editorial that discusses the public’s right to know and the bipartisan cooperation that ultimately helped change the bill: http://yourdailyjournal.com/news/editorial-localnews1-opinion/5141909/OUR-VIEW-McLaurin-stood-up-for-right-to-know.
N.C. Senate and House budget conferees continue to meet to negotiate a balanced state budget and this week reached consensus on the Medicaid portion of the budget. These funds will provide care for senior citizens, residents of assisted living facilities, and the disabled. However, the education budget, which accounts for 55 percent of our state budget, hangs in the balance. As school is slated to begin in two months, we need to assure passage of a budget that treats our educators and state employees with dignity and respect. As I have said many times, our teachers in N.C. deserve to be paid better than 46th in the nation.
Senate Bill 793, the Charter School Transparency bill, has been back and forth between the two Chambers. One issue of concern is whether charter school teachers’ salaries are public information. I support public disclosure of public salaries and benefits. If someone is paid with public taxpayer funds, the public deserves to know the details of their compensation. In my view, we should never waver in our need for transparency with regards to taxpayer dollars.
Last week we celebrated our nation’s independence, and I am reminded of the unique freedom that we have as Americans. God bless America!