The North Carolina General Assembly convened a special session March 23 and passed a bill that prohibits schools from letting transgender students use the bathroom that doesn’t match their biological sex. It also prohibits cities and counties from raising the minimum wage or passing local anti-discrimination laws.
The bill was supported by every Republican member of the N.C. House and Senate, as well as 11 House Democrats. Some critics cried foul that it took away discrimination protections from the LGBT community. Others, including the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, criticized the GOP for calling a special session at an extra cost to taxpayers.
When the legislature is in session it costs the state about $42,000 a day, on average.
The LGBT Progress branch of the Center for American Progress likened that figure to what the state spends to help rape victims, tweeting: “NC spent $42K today to ban trans ppl from bathrooms. That’s almost as much as it spends on government rape crisis programs in a year.”
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The tweet’s premise is slightly misleading, perhaps due to the forced brevity in Twitter’s 140-character limit. North Carolina did not ban transgender people from bathrooms. It banned them from the bathroom of a gender that doesn’t match what’s on their birth certificate.
But let’s look at the second part of the tweet. Did North Carolina really spend nearly as much meeting to overturn the Charlotte ordinance – citing fears of sexual assault as a major motivation – as it spends in a year to help victims of rape?
Yes and no.
The state spends about $45,000 a year on government-run rape crisis programs. That’s close to the $42,000 estimated price tag for the special session. But the state spends another $2.8 million annually to help charities run the vast majority of rape crisis centers throughout the state.
The tweet did specify government rape crisis programs. Sarah McBride, the campaigns and communications manager for the think tank’s LGBT branch, said it was carefully worded that way.
“The government rape crisis program appropriations was $44,678 in the NC certified 2015-2016 budget and the same in the 2016-2017 budget,” she wrote in an email, providing a budget document as proof. “Note that the spending for NGO rape crisis programs is much higher, but that the tweet specified “government programs.”
NGO means non-government-organizations – in this case, such charities as the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which maintains more than 100 rape crisis centers and emergency hotlines for victims throughout the state.
In addition to donations, these NGOs also rely on some government funding. In recent years, that support has equated to $2.8 million – in addition to the nearly $45,000 that the state spends on government-run rape crisis initiatives.
We appreciate McBride’s transparency. But the average person reading that tweet isn’t going to be familiar with the government-versus-NGO breakdown of rape services in North Carolina, which makes it fairly misleading.
In fact, even a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Administration – the agency that distributes the state’s $2.8 million rape crisis budget – said he had no idea what the tweet was referring to.
LGBT Progress said North Carolina spent “almost as much as it spends on government rape crisis programs in a year” to convene a special session for HB2.
While that’s technically not wrong, due to careful wording, it’s highly misleading. The vast majority of government spending to help victims goes to local charities, not government rape crisis programs, which spend less than 2 percent of the state’s annual spending on assistance to rape victims.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Speaker: LGBT Progress
Statement: By calling a special session for HB2, North Carolina spent “almost as much as it spends on government rape crisis programs in a year.”
Ruling: The state’s spending on the special session was comparable to spending on government-run rape crisis programs. But more than 98 percent of what the state spends to help rape victims goes to charities, not government programs, making the statement misleading. We rate this claim Mostly False.