Poverty is on the rise in North Carolina and state policymakers are making it worse. The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 17.6 percent of the people in the state lived in poverty in 2009 and 2010. And that’s the average. It is much higher in many counties as data released this week will undoubtedly show.
The response by the General Assembly this summer to the rising poverty rate was to slash programs that help low-income families, from mental health services to early childhood programs. Tuition was increased at community colleges and universities and scholarship programs were cut.
Lawmakers reduced Medicaid by more than $2 billion when you take into account the federal matching funds lost because of state cuts. That will mean fewer health care services to people who are uninsured at a time when the census figures also show almost 20 percent of the people in North Carolina are not covered by an insurance plan.
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