Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Paul Luebke
Date of Birth: 1-18-46
Campaign Web Site: Linked to NCGA Web Site
Occupation & Employer: Sociology Teacher, UNC-Greensboro
Years lived in North Carolina: 33
1) What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
a--Jobs and the economy
a--Well-paying jobs and economic development in all 100 counties
b--Quality public education, at the levels of K-12, Community Colleges, and the multi- campus UNC system.
c-- Affordable and accessible health care.
2) Are there specific needs in your district that you would add to that list? How do you propose to address them?
a--Elimination of poverty and unemployment in the oft-forgotten lower - income neighborhoods that lie east of Downtown Durham
b--Enlist state government as a partner with local and federal governments to make good-paying jobs and quality public schools in those neighborhoods a top priority.
3) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
Since 1991, I have represented Durham in the State House. On multiple issues, from tax fairness, to people-first environmental policy, to alternatives to incarceration and a death penalty moratorium, I have been a leader in my chamber and in interaction with the State Senate and the Office of the Governor.
4) How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Progressive Populist Democrat
I believe the values associated with that label are at the core of my work on multiple issues in the General Assembly
5) The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
I was the leading Democrat in the General Assembly to advocate for and eliminate the state's 4.75% portion of the general sales tax. Each family that purchases $100 of groceries saves $4.75 as a consequence of the Democrat-Republican coalition that I helped build in the late 1990s.
I continue to believe that North Carolina's tax policy should not disproportionately burden middle class and low-income consumers.
6) Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I will continue to fight the flawed emphasis of most of my legislative colleagues upon prison construction as a "solution" for crime. I will continue to advocate for alternatives to incarceration for those convicted of non-violent felonies. One reason to fight for such an alternate "smart on crime" policy is that, under current policy, low-income African-American males are disproportionately represented in North Carolina's prisons.
7) If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a. Poverty: What steps, if any, do you advocate to lift up the poor in North Carolina?
Better access to good-paying jobs; public education in N.C.' s poor counties that is as good as the quality of education offered to children in the state's affluent urban counties; provision of affordable and accessible health care; a quality public transit system in low-income counties and in the low-income areas of our generally-affluent counties.
b. Transportation needs in the state, including roads and transit in the Triangle?
Funding public transit infrastructure should be a priority in the major transportation bond issue that will likely be passed by the 2009 General Assembly. Roads should be a lower priority, in part because the Triangle area is already experiencing gridlock during rush hour on many major arteries. Other reasons to de-emphasize highways is that autos pollute, and driving -- because of the high price of fuel --is increasingly a financial burden on middle-class and low-income people.
c. Crowded prisons: Should we be moving toward more alternative-sentencing programs instead of prison time?
d. Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance?
Get serious about solving this fundamental social problem. A proposal developed by the North Carolina Justice Center is a good starting point.
e. Foreclosures: What more should the state be doing to help consumers avoid foreclosure and hold onto their homes?
North Carolina is already a national leader in fighting predatory lenders and in helping consumers avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. We can do more, and we should thank the Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending for providing outstanding recommendations to the General Assembly. I hope the Center will continue to be an active advocate for less-fortunate residents of North Carolina.
f. Energy: Do you support off-shore drilling in the state's coastal waters?
g. Other state initiatives to reduce gasoline and other energy costs?
The price of fuel oil cannot be controlled by the General Assembly. Making public transit the first area that STATE and FEDERAL transportation policy should assist --with huge influxes of dollars both to build transit infrastructure and to fund the operating deficits of bus and commuter rail systems --is one of my top priorities for 2009 if I am reelected.
h. The mental health crisis: Everyone agrees it's a mess. Now what?
Many reports, including one completed recently by the General Assembly's new Program Evaluation Committee has identified serious errors made by the management of DHHS. The Committee and the entire General Assembly should pressure DHHS officials to install a completely new management team. Another step to reverse this policy disaster is to place more power in the hands of area mental help programs such as Durham Center.
i. Taxes: Given the needs, are they too high? Too low? Too regressive? What direction should the state be taking on the revenue side?
North Carolina ranks 37th of the 50 states in combined state and local states. Stated differently, only 13 states have lower taxes than North Carolina. So I am convinced our state taxes are not too high, given the responsibility that the General Assembly has --unlike most other states -- to fund K-12 schools and to build and maintain both highways and country roads.
That said, North Carolina's tax code has far too many loopholes that benefit primarily large multi-national corporations. These loopholes should be closed. Also, in the interests of public health (and restraining growing medical care costs), North Carolina should raise its cigarette excise tax from the current 30 cents/pack to the national average. In these current recessionary times, North Carolina's already progressive income tax system should gain an additional rate of 8.50% for those couples with a taxable income above $250, 000. This is the same level advocated for federal tax increases by the Obama - Biden ticket. Finally, North Carolina needs to look carefully at all recommendations to raise the sales tax. Already, NC's general state and local sales tax is one of the highest along the East Coast. According to the NC Justice Center, the sales tax is clearly more burdensome on middle class and low-income families than it is on the state's high-income families.
j. School vouchers: Should the state provide vouchers to parents who choose private (K-12) schools for their children? If so, for what amount?
8) What is your position on capital punishment in North Carolina? If in favor, will you support a moratorium on executions while the question of whether the death penalty can be administered fairly is studied by the General Assembly?
I have been a House leader for years in our (till-now) unsuccessful effort to pass a two-year moratorium on the death penalty. We need to study how many persons are on death row because the courts gave them incompetent defense attorneys. We also need to stop placing African-Americans males on death row for killing a white person when --the data are clear -- these same men would NOT be on death row if they had killed a black person. Finally, opponents of the death penalty need to identify the wealthy people of any race who are on death row. To the best of my knowledge, no wealthy person is sitting in Central Prison with a death sentence.
I do support the death penalty for persons who have engaged in genocide. Thus, carrying out the death penalty against Hitler's henchmen was appropriate.
9) What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether gay marriages or civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina; also, whether sexual orientation and identity should be added as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws, including state personnel laws.
I support civil unions. As long ago as 1999, Chapel Hill representative Verla Insko and I sought to add gays and lesbians to the list of protected classes under North Carolina's anti-hate-crimes bill. We successfully moved the bill out of committee to the House floor. Unfortunately, the bill was killed on the House floor by a coalition of Republicans and socially-conservative Democrats. Another of my bills, to protect gay and lesbian state employees for from discrimination, failed narrowly in 2004 in the committee on state government.
10) Do you support women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Given that North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, do you support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control?
Yes, and yes. Current NC member of congress Robin Hayes (opposed this year by Democrat Larry Kissell) in 1995 led the new Republican State House majority in a successful campaign to impose an "abstinence only" law on all of North Carolina's school districts. I was an outspoken opponent of Hayes' bill. I would like to see a comprehensive sex education bill introduced during the 2009 General Assembly.
11) Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina?
12) One of the most controversial issues in this election year is illegal immigration. Recently, several N.C. counties—including Alamance, Johnston and Wake—have employed the 287(g) program, which streamlines local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. What is your assessment of the success, or failure, of these programs?
Primarily, the 287g program, established by the federal government and enforceable by local police and sheriff departments, is a failure, because in North Carolina most of these jurisdictions improperly use the program to round up and try to deport any undocumented person they encounter. The program would be acceptable if it focused on those undocumented persons who commit violent felonies. But, in Alamance, Johnston, and Wake counties, the sheriffs have sought to arrest and deport persons who have committed no crime or at most were stopped because of an infraction such as an unfastened seat belt.
13) Despite the Department of Homeland Security's finding that admitting Illegal Immigrants to college did not violate federal Immigration law, the N.C. System of Community Colleges ruled to maintain a moratorium on admitting Illegal Immigrants to degree-granting programs. How will you vote on legislative proposals to either ban, or permit, Illegal Immigrants attending college In North Carolina?
Undocumented persons who are willing to pay out-of-state tuition to attend community colleges should be allowed to do so. I will vigorously oppose any attempt to prevent undocumented students --who until last Fall were able to attend community colleges or the UNC system by paying out-of-state tuition-- from furthering their education in post-high school public education systems. During the 2008 legislative session, I was a primary sponsor of a bill to affirm the access of undocumented students to higher education. Finally, I would note that many U.S. senators, including Sen. Obama, support a much less economically-punitive measure, the Dream Act, which would give undocumented persons who can prove STATE residency the right to in-state tuition. I hope the 2009 Congress passes the Dream Act.