NC lawmaker produces poignant email from single mother, teacher after GOP rep questions its legitimacy
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Democratic North Carolina lawmaker had a lot to say when a representative of the opposite party questioned a claim she made this week regarding teacher pay.
North Carolina Rep. Deb Butler publicly answered a public records request Tuesday night on Twitter after the GOP asked her for emails to validate claims she made that a teacher reached out to her expressing her struggle to make ends meet.
Butler posted an emotional response to Twitter Tuesday afternoon after she reportedly received an email from a North Carolina teacher, describing the ongoing struggle to pay bills, provide for her daughter and feed herself on a teacher’s salary.
“I received that email yesterday and it was so disturbing that it just struck a chord with me and I wanted to radiate that out because people need to understand that our public school teachers are suffering. They’ve gone without pay raises. The Republicans will say we’ve given them more money than ever. Adjusted for inflation, it is not where it should be and teachers will tell you they’re working second and third jobs. And if you don’t believe me just go into an elementary school, sit in the teacher’s lounge, and ask those questions. You’ll have the true answer. You don’t need to talk to me about it. Talk to a teacher,” Butler said.
Later that night, Butler said her office received a records request from the NCGOP communications director asking for the actual constituent email referenced in the tweet regarding teacher pay.
She posted a screengrab of the public records request online.
Rather than privately fulfilling the request from the NCGOP, Butler obtained permission from the teacher and published the email in its entirety for everyone to see on Twitter.
In the email to Butler, the constituent identifies herself as a Brunswick County teacher and single mother frustrated over the requirements for any form of public assistance. The teacher admits to Butler she often goes without food to make sure she can provide for her child.
“I realize that there are large amounts of families that are in tight financial situations but I am having difficulty with the fact that as a state employee who works extremely hard every day and I am not able to receive any help,” the teacher’s email to Butler notes. “I understand that I am employed and I am thankful for this every day but when I submit my information to try to get any assistance, I am denied because my gross amount of pay is utilized, rather than my take-home pay.”
From there, the teacher discloses her true monthly take-home pay and itemizes her rent, childcare, phone bill, insurance costs and loan payments. After listing all of the deductions, she’s left with just a few dollars.
“I have $6.79 left in my bank account to now cover gas, groceries, and miscellaneous items that always arise,” the teacher wrote. “My bank account currently sits at $0.64. I have another week before payday.”
After posting the thread of the teacher’s email, Butler had one thing to say to anyone out there questioning her.
Jeff Hauser, NCGOP Communications Director, sent WECT the following statement regarding the records request:
“I submitted a standard public records request that happens every day in politics. After the days of high debt, pay freezes, and furloughs under Democratic leadership, Republicans have increased teacher take home pay while significantly reducing the amount educators owe in taxes. Unfortunately, increased educational investments this year have been delayed by Gov. Cooper’s budget veto."
Butler also talked about the Governor’s veto, saying he vetoed that raise with teacher support.
“The governor vetoed that teacher pay raise with the teacher’s blessing. He contacted them exhaustively about what their wishes are and they’ve decided, I believe it’s the right course to stand firm and ask for what they deserve. Nickle and diming a teacher... we need to re-install master’s pay, non-certified personnel need raises, bus drivers need raises. There’s so many issues surrounding public education so it’s time to negotiate,” she said.
Butler also talked with WECT Tuesday night, as the incident was unfolding.
“I was so upset to learn of this teacher’s predicament and then to have the Republican Party communications officer make a records request because he believes I fabricated the story? Well, unlike him, I would never misrepresent the challenges of our teachers. I know they are struggling and it’s time for the Republicans to negotiate a reasonable pay increase for teachers instead of cutting corporate taxes for the seventh time. Anyone who reads her email and isn’t moved, should be ashamed of themselves," Butler wrote in an email. “The fact that any teacher in NC is going hungry should upset and despair each and every one of us,”
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