Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Paul Luebke
Date of Birth: January 18, 1946
Campaign Web Site: www.mindspring.com/~luebke
Occupation & Employer: Sociology teacher, UNC Greensboro
Years lived in North Carolina: 35
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?
Jobs and the economy; tax fairness; criminal justice reform; mental health funding; public education improvements; environmental protection; and public financing of elections to all state offices.
To reduce unemployment, in the short term I support a reduction in small business taxes in order to increase hiring. In the long term, I support improvements to the state’s K-12 and community college programs.
Tax fairness for the middle and low-income majority must be a priority in any effort to modernize the state’s tax laws.
One key criminal justice reform is to place the SBI under the control of an independent agency to ensure that the SBI will no longer operate with a bias in favor of the prosecution.
2. Are there specific needs in your district that you would add to that list? How do you propose to address them?
No. Durham’s issues are also the state’s issues. However, I do keep an eye on anything that might adversely affect Durham.
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.
I have represented Durham in the State House since 1991. Throughout these years, I have worked in all seven of the areas listed above (see question 1), establishing relations with advocacy groups, building support among House colleagues, and negotiating with the Senate.
I am especially proud that, during the 1990s, I led the bipartisan effort to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries; and that, in 2009, I was a primary House sponsor of the Racial Justice Act.
4. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Progressive Democrat. My past achievements and my platform for 2011 reflect my commitment to the goal of a more progressive North Carolina.
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.
As Senior Chair of the House Finance Committee, I am committed to implementing a state tax system that does not unfairly burden the middle and low-income majority.
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 would continue to be the senior sponsor of legislation that will provide job protection throughout state government for LGBT persons. For years, I have led the fight in the General Assembly to pass this legislation, but each time the bill has faced both Republican and Democratic opposition.
7. The current state budget was balanced with approximately equal amounts of spending cuts (primarily to human services and local school districts) and tax increases. Another very tough budget battle looms ahead next year. Will you support: (a) deeper spending cuts? (b) greater tax increases? (c) another mix of the two? Please tell us what you’d cut and which taxes should be raised, if any.
I support the closing of corporate tax loopholes and a higher income tax rate for families with incomes above $250,000. If necessary, I would cut some programs, relying first on the recommendations of the General Assembly’s Performance Review Division. I would seek to avoid cuts to K-12 education and to such key health programs as mental health and AIDS medication assistance.
8. North Carolina is sending record numbers of people to prison, and when they’re released, they’re often lost and get in trouble again. The Governor’s StreetSafe initiative is aimed at breaking this vicious cycle and reducing the recidivism rate. As a legislator, what would you propose that she and the General Assembly do to help?
We should stop building new prisons and work instead to incarcerate fewer non-violent felons. We should support StreetSafe and any other program that will allow former inmates to hold decent-paying jobs and to become productive citizens.
9. Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance? What do you propose to do to address the mental health crisis?
The health care/ health insurance issue will be heavily influenced by the 2010 federal health care reform legislation. In previous sessions, I have strongly supported SCHIP (child health insurance) and the High-Risk Health Insurance Pool. I am committed to additional legislation to enhance the effectiveness of the federal health reform programs.
Mental health programs should be funded well, and DHHS administration of mental health programs should improve dramatically.
10. 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 do not support the death penalty.
11. 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 LGBT rights and believe civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina. Yes, sexual orientation and identity should be included in the state’s anti-discrimination laws. I worked to include sexual orientation in the K-12 anti-bullying legislation that passed the General Assembly in 2009.
12. 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.
13. Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina?
14. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 11.2 percent of North Carolina’s workforce is unemployed. Please state specifically what the state should and can do to create new jobs, describe the kinds of jobs the state should support and what your role will be in creating them.
The global economic recession and the growth of a global economy are the major reasons why North Carolina has such a high level of unemployment.
Relying in part on small-business tax cuts, the state should support expansion of existing North Carolina businesses and the establishment of more locally-owned businesses. The state should also reduce its reliance on subsidies and tax breaks to out-of-state corporations.
The General Assembly should especially support community colleges to provide North Carolinians with the skills necessary to hold jobs in the new economy.