Van Duyn details priorities for upcoming legislative session

Terry Van Duyn at CIBO
AT THE TABLE: Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe County, talks about her hopes and anticipations for the General Assembly’s upcoming legislative session during a Jan. 11 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners. Democrats managed to break the Republican supermajority in the state house and senate during the 2018 election. Photo by David Floyd

After Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate in the 2018 election, State Sen. Terry Van Duyn believes her party colleagues in the General Assembly will have more political clout during the upcoming session.

For one, they can now prevent Republicans from overriding a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.

“We can’t necessarily drive an agenda, but we can influence an agenda,” she told the members of the Council of Independent Business Owners during a breakfast meeting at UNC Asheville on Friday.

Looking forward

Education and health care are two of the biggest slices in the state’s budget pie, and Van Duyn is looking for progress on both fronts during the legislature’s upcoming session.

Van Duyn hopes to see a school bond on the 2020 ballot, which could help address the cost of construction and renovations for K-12 schools in poorer parts of the state. An April 2016 study completed by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction says counties in North Carolina will have nearly $8.1 billion in school capital needs over a five year period.

The recent decision by the state legislature to reduce classroom sizes, Van Duyn suggested, has put even more pressure on schools. “That’s created a shortage of classrooms across the state,” she said, “but it’s a significant problem in our rural counties that don’t have the tax base to construct those buildings.”

She also hopes to see some bond money set aside for community colleges and the state’s university system, which she said has a $2 billion maintenance backlog.

And Van Duyn wants greater focus on problems associated with school testing. “I hear from parents all the time that they’re frustrated about the amount of testing, whether or not that’s paying the dividends that it should, given the time that goes into it,” she said.

2019 could also be a major year for changes in state health care, Van Duyn said. In October 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid approved the General Assembly’s 2015 vote to transition its state Medicaid program to managed care. This decision would move North Carolina from a fee-for-service system, in which services are paid for separately and physicians are incentivized to provide more treatments to patients, to a capitated system, in which providers receive a flat fee for each patient.

“The idea is that if you pay your providers on a capitated basis, they have more incentive to keep people well,” Van Duyn said. “And if they keep people well, they make a little more money because they’re not spending it, and it saves the state money.” That approach also transfers some of the risk associated with the care from the state to providers, she said.

Running for Lt. Governor

In December 2018, Van Duyn announced her intention to run for lieutenant governor in 2020. She told members of CIBO that she’s running for the position because she believes her vision for North Carolina aligns with Cooper’s. That includes building a more equitable state economy.

To reach that goal, Van Duyn wants to see North Carolina become one of the ten most educated states in the country. “I think that’s how we draw business to North Carolina,” she said.

Van Duyn added that building a strong state economy also involves expanding Medicaid because “people can’t work when they’re sick or broken,” a fact she said was readily apparent during her time working as an Affordable Care Act navigator.

“I saw time and time again people come in who were working maybe 20 hours a week because that was all they could handle,” she said. “Their diabetes was out of control, or they didn’t have access to mental health drugs that might have made it possible to work more.”

Van Duyn said she’s looking forward to bringing “a mountain perspective” to the state capital. “I think that’s sorely lacking,” she said.

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 5:37 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, to clarify the timing of the $8.1 billion in school capital needs described in the April 2016 study by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.


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About David Floyd
David Floyd was a reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press.

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14 thoughts on “Van Duyn details priorities for upcoming legislative session

  1. jonathan wainscott

    Thank you Senator. There’s a lot of courage packed into your petite frame. You have helped smooth the waters in the perpetual feud between Asheville and “Raleigh” (NCGA) by having the courage to take an unpopular stance on the issue of bringing much needed district voting to Asheville. Not only that, the citizens of Asheville can finally take a year off from elections which will help with voter fatigue and bring more voter participation to local elections. Our local elected leaders can now focus on their campaigns during the same cycles as the rest of our elected officials, and do the jobs they were elected to do during the “off” years like the rest. Synchronicity and efficiency. Wonderful!
    Senate Bill 813 passed unanimously in the Senate and as a result of that bill, the power of the African_American vote has been strengthened by creation of 2 (out of 5) Districts that have significantly higher concentrations of black voters than the city at-large. This will help the chances of having a diverse Council, like the one seated now, and abolish the possibility of having a Council like the one that served from after the 2013 election. You have helped guarantee a voice on Council from every part of town, and given us a all year of election silence. This Spring- no campaign signs. Joy to the world.
    I hope your 2019 initiatives are a success. Happy New Year and thanks again-

    • Lulz

      LOL a bunch of dumb sheep that pay so corporations can make millions off of tourism while they lose services ain’t about to vote out the cronies. They’re going to double up on the stupidity just like always. And the results will be the same. How can you get change in office when the only difference in those running is external? You have 7 buffoons on council that vote the same way. And still use studies to get out of making any decisions. My God, one is there because his brother is a rock star. And you think things will improve? It’s as if children decide elections around here. But in reality it’s adults with the minds of toddlers.

  2. Lulz

    LOL why do you need a school bond when the lottery is supposed to pay for education? Where’s the money going?

    • SpareChange

      The Lottery money (which at times the NC legislature has pushed into general revenues, rather than devoting it all to education) only constitutes about 6-7% of the state’s total K-12 budget. If genuinely interested, as opposed to just the usual (LOL) trolling, there is some very straightforward information provided by the NC Center for Public Policy Research, and the State Board of Ed.

      • Big Al

        I think you missed his point. Rather than merely “trolling”, Mr Lulz is pointing to the fact that the Lottery was passed in NC by promoting the LIE that it would improve the financial woes of our educational system, which, it clearly has not.

        Ironically, of the two diametrically opposed camps who found common ground opposing the Lottery, the evangelical Christians on the Right and the anti-poverty activists on the Left, it was the Left that believed this LIE and caved.

        For all of its’ other failings, at least the Bible-thumpers stuck to their principles in favor of preventing the state from subsidizing another addiction to the people who can least afford it.

        The Left demanded and got the Lottery and STILL whines about how poorly funded education is. But don’t worry, as soon as we legalize recreational Marijuana, the tax receipts will FLOOD in and solve all of our social funding woes.

        • Lulz

          LOL yep. It’s like these cronies get money then waste it away and then want more. And rely on a bunch of sheep who don’t dare question where the money is going to vote for giving them even more. Wanda Green anyone? Out of control.

        • SpareChange

          I’m sorry… and what “point” was missed exactly? Constantly posting snarky “LOLs” followed by an insult is not a “point.” It is also not an explanation, or an argument of any kind. It is, however, the predictable rant of an embittered, distracted, reflexively cynical churl.

          All I stated in response was an attempt to actually extract a bit of factual information — namely, that lottery revenues have never constituted more than a fairly small fraction of the education budget. I said absolutely nothing about any of the issues you then proceed to talk about. I did not say anything in support of or in opposition to the education budget, how the lottery was promoted, or about any political or ideological group or orientation. So, while you do actually put out some kind of argument, it’s very unclear who are what you are arguing with.

          If one actually paused long enough in the midst of all the whining and finger pointing and blaming to inquire, I would have been happy to clarify that I do not support lotteries. They are a terribly inefficient and regressive way to raise revenue — and directing those funds toward education, or any other particular purpose does not make it any less so.

          That said, given the fact that we seem to agree that the lottery is not a good thing, and that therefore money is needed for education, we are then left with the question of how best to raise that money. Which only takes us back to the original point I was making.

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