Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

In case you missed it, Raleigh’s News & Observer hit the nail on the head with an editorial that neatly summed up the desultory conclusion to the 2018 legislative session. In “Don’t worry. As school buildings crumble, our kids will get 6 constitutional amendments!” the N&O rightfully skewered Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore for their irresponsible failure to pass much-needed bond to fund school construction and improvements. As the editorial noted:

“This is a measure that could have made our schools better places to learn. It also could have been the rare piece of major legislation supported by a substantial number of Republicans and Democrats. It could have shown that lawmakers are capable of setting aside differences and of working together to solve our biggest problems.

But it’s not going to happen. The legislature’s Republican leaders decided against it. A spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger said Republicans wanted ‘to avoid saddling taxpayers with additional debt when priorities can be paid for through existing revenues and without borrowing money.’ The spokesman said next year’s budget includes $241 million for school facilities, with much of that funding going to rural counties.

As for that mandate to lower class sizes, school boards and county commissions are on their own to figure that out. Trailers, anyone?

But it’s the the conclusion of the editorial that really rocks, when it goes after the flurry of ill-conceived constitutional amendments that are now slated to appear on the November ballot:

“Instead, Republicans are going to ram six proposed constitutional amendments through in this last week of the short session. Six!

Bad process leads to bad policy, and this is a constitutional train wreck waiting to happen. Any attempt to amend the state Constitution should be deliberate. In the last 20 years, the legislature has taken seven constitutional amendments to voters. These legislative leaders are rushing through two decades’ worth of proposed amendments in one week.

This is the same leadership team that embarrassed itself last month by approving a revised 2018-19 budget without allowing for amendments in committee or on the floor. The revised budget was assembled behind closed doors and then presented for an up-or-down vote. This was the first time in the state’s modern history such an approach was used. Even the Republican leadership’s typical allies, such as the conservative Civitas Institute, called them out for that.

Rank-and-file Republicans know they shouldn’t operate this way. When they were in the minority, Republicans said if they ran the place, they’d be open and inclusive. But their leaders have, once again, let them — and the state — down. Meanwhile, real problems fester.”

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