I’m running so that our students have the very best teachers this country has to offer, so our families have health coverage that works for them, and to grow the Guilford County economy. Below you’ll find my stance on some of the most important issues in our state.
Where Michael Garrett Stands on the Issues in North Carolina
After years of neglect in state and county budgets our schools are in a state of crisis. In Guilford County, the average age of our school buildings is 52 years old. We now need around $2 billion to construct new schools and repair existing ones. For this reason, I support the statewide school infrastructure bond proposed by Governor Cooper. It would bring tens of millions of dollars in direly needed funding to Guilford County schools so that we can make the necessary repairs and begin getting children out of mobile classrooms by building new schools.
It’s time we restore dignity to the teaching profession by paying our teachers what they’re worth. North Carolina has consistently trailed far behind the national average in teacher pay, and in fact, the average NC teacher is making less money now than before the recession, when accounting for inflation. This is the main reason why many of our teachers have moved to states that offer more generous pay or transitioned out of the profession altogether. I have co-sponsored legislation that restore bonus pay for teachers with Master’s degrees and I wholeheartedly support Governor Cooper’s 2019-2021, budget which offers teachers an average pay raise of 9.1% across two years. I believe that every dollar spent on our children’s education will come back to us many times over in the form of a workforce well-equipped to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The very first bill that I co-sponsored in 2019 was SB3, which would have immediately started to close the Medicaid coverage gap. Not closing this gap and thus denying health coverage to well over half a million additional North Carolinians is one of the greatest failures of the General Assembly in recent decades. Expanding Medicaid would bring benefits to everyone in the state, not just those who would gain coverage. Studies have found that such a move would bring billions of dollars in economic development and millions in revenue to North Carolina. Further, everyone who already purchases insurance can expect their premiums to decrease as costs to treat the uninsured are brough under control.
Looking beyond Medicaid, I’m concerned with the constantly increasing costs of prescription drugs. I am working with colleagues to draft legislation that aims to offer relief to residents across Guilford County and the state.
I own and operate a small business located in Senate District 27. I know the challenges our local business owners face, firsthand. Our state government should be helping to fan the flame of the local economy, and that starts with supporting small businesses, which create about two thirds of the new jobs in North Carolina. As such, they must be the epicenter of our strategy for economic growth.
In recent years, this General Assembly has increasingly shifted the tax burden onto the shoulders of small businesses and the families who own them. I favor an exemption on the first $50,000 of small business income so that money can be reinvested in workers and local communities.
I support a revival of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as it would give our working families a leg up as they strive to enter or stay in the middle class.
There are no “re-do’s” when it comes to protecting North Carolina’s clean air and water and combating the threat of climate change. These goals need not be a cross-purpose with supporting a thriving economy. In my first term, I introduced a bill called “Polluter Pays,” which keeps polluters on the hook for cleaning up any messes they create, including coal ash and other chemical spills. I co-sponsored a bill committing North Carolina 100% clean energy generation by 2050 as well as a bill that would have banned the chemical “PFAS,” so that it no longer threatens our drinking water. In 2020 and beyond, I’ll continue to introduce and support legislation which protects these resources and addresses climate change.
Fair Maps & the Health of Our Democracy
As a member of the Senate Committee on Redistricting & Election, I have been a 100% steadfast supporter of ending gerrymandering and getting fair legislative maps for NC voters. I’ve voted against every politician-drawn map that the Committee has taken up, even when they were supported by members of my own party. Gerrymandering is wrong, no matter which party does it. You can rest assured that I will always support nonpartisan redistricting.
The fundamental cornerstone of our democracy is the right of citizens to have a say in the makeup of their government through voting. I believe that our state and country are better off when more eligible people vote, not fewer. My voting record and bills that I have introduced or co-sponsored reflect that belief.
I introduced a bill which would make every Election Day a state holiday, so that all voters have the best opportunity to cast their vote. I co-sponsored S641, called the Fix Our Democracy Act, to enact a series of pro-voting rights measures, including automatic voter registration for all citizens on their 18th birthday. Additionally, I voted for a bill to reinstate Saturday voting during early voting periods, which ultimately became law.