Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

McCrory 2008 20151. What would the Pat McCrory of 2008 think about the current culture of corruption in Raleigh?
A couple of weeks before the 2008 gubernatorial election, then candidate Pat McCrory released what his campaign described as a detailed reform plan to end the “culture of corruption” he said was a major problem under the previous Democratic administrations in Raleigh.
The plan included a five-section-long executive order that he would issue if was elected and a seven-part legislative agenda. The introduction to the specific policy proposals included this promise.

“In North Carolina, ‘it’s time for a change’ is not just a campaign slogan…it’s a necessity. As governor, I will shake up state government by establishing a culture of honesty, integrity and transparency. Corruption and fraud will not be tolerated. Public service will be conducted ethically and without undue favor.”

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For-profit colleges2. In the wake of for-profit college collapses, a long road to student loan debt relief
State and federal regulators announced a string of court victories and settlements involving predatory for-profit colleges in recent weeks, and while at first glance the numbers are big and the recognition of widespread deception precedential, the impact on student borrowers laden with loan debt might not be so direct.

In late October, a federal judge entered a $531 million judgment against Corinthian Colleges — one of the largest for-profit college chains in the country, with more than 100 campuses and approximately 74,000 students — finding that the schools had deceived student borrowers about costs and career opportunities. The company had already ceased operations and shut down all its campuses in late April and filed for bankruptcy in May.

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McCrory UI3. The McCrory administration’s “ketchup is a vegetable” unemployment insurance system
Thirty-four years ago, the administration of President Ronald Reagan stirred up one of the great domestic policy P.R. controversies of the early 1980’s with its laughably ill-conceived plan to consider tomato paste (and, thereby, its salty-sweet sibling, ketchup) as a “vegetable” in the national school lunch program. The purpose of the proposal, of course, was to save money in a supposedly overly-generous “welfare” program that was draining public coffers.

By the end of 1981, the ridiculous cost-cutting proposal had been quickly repudiated and consigned to the monologues of late night comedians. In the decades since, “ketchup is a vegetable” has rightly served as a shorthanded putdown for clumsy and mean-spirited proposals of all kinds that seek to slash essential public service programs in the name of cost-cutting, all while attempting to maintain a veneer of compassion and decency. If there is any justice in the world, the “ketchup is a vegetable” moniker will soon be widely applied to another, more recent and cold-hearted assault on an essential safety net structure – North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system.

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Western Governors U4. Out-of-state online college favored by legislature halts NC enrollment while waiting for approval
An online college granted money in the last state budget is facing snags enrolling North Carolina students.

Western Governors University stopped accepting students from North Carolina this fall because it hasn’t yet gotten the required approval from the state university system.

The online college had been enrolling students previously, despite warnings from the UNC system in 2014 to stop until the state system had vetted the online college’s offerings.

Caught in limbo were nearly 700 teaching and nursing students, who needed to spend time observing classrooms or in clinical medical settings before being able to go out into the workforce.

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Wages5. New report: Raising public employee wages helps balance budgets and boost the economy
Raising wages for municipal and county employees lets workers afford the basics, boosts the economy, and helps local governments balance their budgets, a new report finds. That’s why dozens of states and local communities across the nation have recognized that the federal minimum wage simply doesn’t pay enough for families to cover their everyday needs and have acted to establish better wages by enacting living wage policies.

Municipal and county governments in North Carolina have already seized the opportunity to join this national movement and take positive action to raise wages for workers living in their communities. Local governments in Greensboro, Greenville, Asheville, Durham, and Wake County have all enacted living wage increases for their own public employees, while a dozen other municipal and county governments have wage floors well above the national minimum wage of $7.25.

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Lonise BiasAnd be sure to RSVP for a very special upcoming Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Closing the health coverage gap for North Carolinians living with substance use disorders:
Featuring Dr. Lonise Bias of the Len and Jay Bias Association and Jeff Matkins of Insight Human Services
Monday, November 30, at noon

Space is limited – pre-registration required.
Click here for more information

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Mark Johnson’s hometown newspaper: State courts must reject his bid for unchecked power in education

This morning’s lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal ...

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