North Carolina Republican Rep. Falsely Claims There Is Nobody Living in Extreme Poverty In His State

Republican State Representative George Cleveland.

North Carolina Republican State Representative George Cleveland earned some criticism today for claiming during a hearing that there is no extreme poverty in his state. A progressive blog run by the North Carolina Justice Center caught the quote:

How utterly detatched from reality is the conservative crowd running the North Carolina General Assembly? For one good indicator, check out this quote from this morning’s House Select Committee to Dismantle Early Childhood Education — it’s from State Rep. George Cleveland:

“We have nobody in the state of North Carolina living in extreme poverty.”

That’s an abject falsehood, of course. Nearly eight percent of North Carolina’s population lives in deep poverty, which experts define as an income below half of the poverty line, far above the national average. The latest census showed that 17.5 percent of the state lives in poverty, the 13th highest rate in the country.

According to Mark Binker, a reporter for a local paper who was covering the hearings via Twitter, Cleveland attempted to clarify his remarks by explaining that poverty levels were “just a govt agency perpetuating a poverty class.”

The 728,842 North Carolinians who are classified as living in deep poverty might take issue with that assessment. Worse, Cleveland was participating in a hearing by the House Select Committee on Early Childhood Education Development, which had issued a report that outlined recommendations for pre-kindergarten education that would drastically reduce eligibility for the state’s Pre-K program. Studies have shown that young children like the ones who would be pushed out of the state’s pre-k program, are hit hardest by deep poverty.

This is not the first time that Cleveland has attracted some negative attention. In 2007, he told a reporter that a person can identify an undocumented immigrant “if a fella comes in with a pair of shaggy boots on, and jeans and a t-shirt, and he’s got a straw hat on.”