As State Senator, Jay Chaudhuri will focus on creating jobs, growing the local economy, and reducing inequality between the rich and the poor. His plan to make the economy more fair includes cutting taxes for working and middle class families by making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, raising the minimum wage, and making sure women receive equal pay for equal work.
BUILDING AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR ALL NORTH CAROLINIANS
Our middle class is shrinking. Working- and middle-class North Carolina families are working harder than they did a decade ago, but they are still making the same pay or less. According to USA Today, North Carolina ranks fourth among all states where the middle class is dying. Jay believes we need an agenda that grows our economy that works for all North Carolinians. He believes we can do that by investing in education and training, growing small businesses, revitalizing our film industry and creating green jobs, and spurring innovation. This economic development formula is not new; in fact, it is the exact formula carried out by former Governor Jim Hunt that made our State the leader in the South for economic growth.
JAY HAS A RECORD ON BUILDING AN ECONOMY FOR ALL NORTH CAROLINIANS:
- As General Counsel to State Treasurer Cowell, Jay helped create the first-ever Innovation Council. Jay helped put together the first-ever Innovation Council established by then Governor Beverly Perdue. The Council was created to recommend policies that would help foster our innovation economy.
- As General Counsel to State Treasurer Cowell, Jay helped develop the first-ever Innovation Fund. After meeting with entrepreneurs and innovators, Jay helped create the first-ever Innovation Fund, a $230 million fund dedicated to investing in and supporting businesses with significant operations in North Carolina. Today, the Innovation Fund is responsible for supporting more than 6,000 jobs across the State.
- As General Counsel to State Treasurer Cowell, Jay helped develop the Venture Multiplier Fund. Jay helped create the Venture Multiplier Fund, which allows the Department of State Treasurer to invest a small portion of the State’s Unclaimed Property Fund in early-stage and small private-sector businesses.
AS STATE SENATOR, JAY WILL:
INVEST IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING
- Pay and treat teachers like professionals with the “5 x 5” initiative. All parents know that outside of their home, a teacher has the next biggest impact on a child. In South Korea, they refer to teachers as “nation builders.” South Koreans accord these teachers both the pay and respect they deserve. Our General Assembly has done exactly the opposite. Today, teachers are leaving the profession or leaving to teach in other states. A number of them hold second jobs. The bottom line remains that our state will never be serious about growing our economy and strengthening our democracy unless we are bold about treating and paying teachers like professionals. That’s what Jay proposes to do. He will advocate for a “5 x 5” initiative that proposes giving teachers a five percent salary increase each year for the next five years. Here’s what a dramatic impact a five percent annual increase will have in just two years: It will put our State closer to the median for teacher pay (28th) and at the top of Southern states with the exception of Georgia. In five years, our teacher pay would be above the median and the highest among Southern states.
- Push for computer science education in every school. As the home to many high-tech companies, our State Senate district should lead the effort to make sure that every school in our State has access to a computer science course. In Arkansas, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has set the goal of 6,000 students in computers science classes in four years. Jay believes North Carolina is in a position to achieve that goal in less time if we make it a priority.
- Encourage girls to pursue careers in science and math. Today, women comprise 45 percent of the workforce but hold only 12 percent of science and engineering jobs. And women make up only nine percent of those individuals with undergraduate engineering degrees. State Senate District 16 – home to Red Hat, SAS, North Carolina State University, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – should lead our State’s way to encourage more girls to pursue science and math careers. As State Senator, Jay will convene important public and private sector leaders to identify better ways to encourage girls to pursue such careers.
- Create an innovation curriculum for our education system. Jay believes we need to embed an innovation curriculum in both our public school and university systems because it will produce more entrepreneurs and graduates who are more poised to become productive and sought-after members of the workforce. Such a curriculum should include key skills including critical thinking, strategic planning, and risk assessment, all considered essential skills for top employees.
- Make community college free for responsible students. Here is an idea that red state Tennessee and blue state Oregon agree upon. And, here’s an idea that Scotland County and Richmond County agree upon: tuition-free community college for qualified students. Jay believes we have the chance to make a real difference for generations of North Carolinians, too. That’s why he’ll push for free community college for students who qualify.
- Make college affordable again by restoring funding for universities back to pre-Recession levels. Our university system is the “crown jewel” of the State. In North Carolina, we have the state’s first public university, the cutting-edge North Carolina School of Science and Math, and more public historically black colleges than any other state. Yet, since 2008, the State has increased tuition by 40 percent and decreased per-student funding by 16 percent. The increase of college tuition creates real issues about college affordability for both families and students. The General Assembly has essentially cut funding for the UNC System by appropriating $500 million less compared to 2008-2009 fiscal year. Jay believes we should add half a billion dollars back to our university fund, thereby increasing our per-student funding.
- Restore maximum benefits for unemployed workers and redesign our unemployment system to retrain these workers. In 2013, the General Assembly cut unemployment benefits so they are provided for only 13 weeks, the lowest in the nation. By reducing these benefits, our State was no longer able to participate in the U.S. Labor Department’s program that assists the unemployed after their state benefits have run out. More importantly, reducing such benefits allow workers to fall through the cracks. Jay believes we should restore the maximum benefits for the unemployed, thereby making it easier for workers to find jobs, not harder. As part of restoring these maximum benefits, Jay believes our unemployment system must help these workers find new jobs through retraining and retooling. According to the Program Evaluation Division, our State’s workforce development system consists of 22 programs run by seven entities that provide assistance at more than 500 locations. Jay believes we must redesign our unemployment system to create a more streamlined and performance-based workforce development system. That system should also identify best practices to help the unemployed find new jobs.
GROW SMALL BUSINESSES
- Hold a Small Business Summit. As State Senator, Jay will convene a diverse range of small businesses from across State Senate District 16 along with local and state government officials to determine ways that such businesses can gain access to capital, cut red tape, and sell their goods to new markets.
- Push to appoint a Chief Small Business Officer. As someone who has spent his career in State government, Jay knows that it’s important for one person to be held accountable and coordinate different agencies on shared policies. That’s why he’ll push for the Governor to appoint a Chief Small Business Officer who will be responsible for making sure that small business has a voice in State government. In addition, this Chief Small Business Officer will be responsible for coordinating inter-agency policies.
- Fight for tax cuts for working- and middle-class families. Many small business owners are working- and middle-class families who need tax relief so they can boost their take-home pay. Jay will fight for a half-percent to one percent tax cut for working- and middle-class families. These tax cuts can be paid for by eliminating tax breaks and making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.
- Fund the One Small Business Program on a recurring basis. Our state needs to attract more early-stage capital so we can grow small businesses and commercialize new innovations. The best way to do so would be for the General Assembly to fund on a recurring basis the One Small Business Grant Program, a fund with a proven track record. This program provides matching grants to applicants who receive the federal Small Business Technology and Transfer or Small Business Innovation Research awards, the two most highly competitive programs and largest source of early stage capital for U.S. small businesses. The additional state funds increase the success rates for these start-ups, and many companies have said that they have started in or relocated to our State because of the One Small Business Grant Program.
REVITALIZE OUR FILM INDUSTRY AND CREATE GREEN JOBS
- Revitalize our film industry by restoring tax credits. The General Assembly’s decision to let our film tax credits expire and replace them with a grant program has dramatically impacted our State’s film industry. Today, there are no new announcements of films produced in our State. The Wilmington area has lost almost 2,000 jobs. Jay will fight to revitalize our film industry by pushing to restore our film tax credits.
- Maintain and grow our State’s emerging solar industry. Our State’s tax credits and mandate for utility companies to use more renewable energy has boosted North Carolina as a top-four state for installed solar capacity and second in the country for large, utility-like projects. Our State’s approach has resulted in more than 23,000 jobs and $3 billion in investments. As Hugh McColl, former Chair and CEO of Bank of America, opined last year, these solar tax credits “could make our North Carolina the next Silicon Valley” in clean energy. Unfortunately, the Republican General Assembly elected to eliminate the solar tax credit despite the new job growth. Jay will fight to maintain and grow our State’s solar industry by pushing for restoration of such tax credits and protecting the renewable energy portfolio standards.
- Update our research and development tax credit. Most economists agree that R&D tax credits work. As the North Carolina Innovation Council stated in its recommendations, “Virtually all studies conducted since the early 1990s have found that credit is an effective tool and that, at minimum, it produces at least one dollar of research for every tax dollar forgone.” Our State needs to amend its R&D tax credit that centers on small businesses and university R&D. Jay will push to update our R&D tax credit so we can compete with other states and even other countries.
- Push for strategic, targeted recruitment of innovative companies by establishing a Deputy Commerce Secretary for Innovation. During a trip to Silicon Valley, Jay witnessed first-hand the desire of cutting-edge, innovative companies to relocate to other parts of the country, including North Carolina. As the North Carolina Innovation Council stated in its recommendation, “North Carolina has little in the way of a formal, strategic recruitment strategy.” In other words, our strategy is more reactive than proactive. Jay will push for establishing a Deputy Commerce Secretary for Innovation whose function will be to proactively recruit innovative companies and build on our regional clusters from clean energy to high-tech across the State.
- Pass a crowdfunding bill. Jay believes that crowdfunding is a vital economic development tool that will help spur innovation in our region over the long term. Although the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission adopted crowdfunding rules as a result of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act passed by Congress in 2012, many innovators and securities lawyers still believe we need our own crowdfunding bill. Jay will push for the passage of a crowdfunding bill that will allow companies to raise up to $2 million. He believes our State should join the more than two dozen states that have already passed similar legislation.
- Pass a constitutional amendment to protect the Unclaimed Property Fund’s principal so it can be invested in high-growth North Carolina companies. As General Counsel to State Treasurer Cowell, Jay advocated to protect the principal amount of the Unclaimed Property Fund. Here’s why: If the General Assembly had not withdrawn over $882 million between 2004 and 2012, the Escheat Fund would have been valued at $1.2 billion versus $344 at the end fiscal year 2012. More importantly, if the citizens of North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment to protect our Unclaimed Property Fund’s principal, it could grow to grow to almost $7 billion in 30 years. If 10 percent of that fund were dedicated to investments with significant operations in North Carolina (like the Innovation Fund), our State could help boost venture funding. Last year, the General Assembly passed Treasurer Cowell’s Venture Multiplier Fund that embraced this exact concept. Jay would fight to make sure that this idea remains permanent by pushing for a constitutional amendment.
- Provide reliable and affordable Internet access to all North Carolinians. Jay believes that unless we have reliable, affordable Internet access in every corner of the State, large portions of our population will never meet their full potential for innovation, and our State’s future prosperity will suffer because of it. Jay will push for statewide online access because he believes our State’s citizens must have access to ideas across the world that are critical to foster innovation.
- Push for the Equal Pay Act. North Carolina ranks 39th in the nation when it comes to the gender pay gap: women earn 82 cents on the dollar compared to men. For women of color, the disparity is even larger: an African-American woman makes 64 cents for every dollar a man makes, and a Latina woman makes only 49 cents for every dollar. Jay will push for the Equal Pay Act, a bill that would ensure that women are paid the same wage as men for similar work.
- Raise the minimum wage. A man or woman earning $7.25 per hour and working full-time can be expected to make $14,500 a year, $4,000 below the federal poverty level for a family of three. That’s unacceptable. Jay will fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour because he believes that increasing the minimum wage can pull thousands of parents with children out of poverty and even help close the gender pay gap.