Commentary

One of the most interesting parts of the Pro Publica report  in the News & Observer today about the huge profits from taxpayer money made by charter school operator Baker Mitchell is the story of how Mitchell lobbied the General Assembly for a tax break for himself and then denied it.

Mitchell was intimately involved in seeing the bill through as chairman of a pro-charter lobbying group, the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Asked about the tax break and whether he had pushed for provisions that would directly benefit him, Mitchell told ProPublica, “There was another group that pushed that through. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

But a lobbyist for Mitchell’s group, Debbie Clary, said, “It was our bill. I was the only lobbyist working on it.” Clary added, “The person most engaged was Baker (Mitchell).”

Whoops. It’s bad enough that Mitchell is raking in millions in taxpayer money with his questionable operation and apparently violating the law by not releasing financial details about his schools.

He at least ought to own up to his role in passing the legislation that is helping make him a wealthy man.

Commentary
McCrory Truck

Photo provided by McCrory’s press office

Buried in one the latest “flash polls” from the Civitas Institute is what appears to be bad news for Governor Pat McCrory.

The poll was taken to get a read on the race for the state House between Republican incumbent Michele Presnell and her Democratic challenger Dean Hicks in District 118—Madison, Haywood, and Yancey counties.

Hicks leads the race by 12 points according to the poll, somewhat of a surprise in what Civitas considers a Republican district.

The poll also found that 39 percent of the people in the district approved of the job President Obama was doing, while 53 percent disapproved.

Then there’s Governor McCrory. Just 35 percent of the voters in the Republican district approved of the job McCrory was doing while 57 percent disapproved.

That means that in a Republican part of North Carolina according to a poll taken by a right-wing advocacy group, people think President Obama is doing a better job than Governor McCrory.

And that comes after months of ads bashing Obama as part of the attacks on Senator Kay Hagan in the Senate race with House Speaker Thom Tillis.

That doesn’t bode well for the governor. Might be time to step on some more toes or come up with a new Carolina Comeback or give somebody else cookies or something.

Commentary

Just because House Speaker Thom Tillis couldn’t stop talking in the debate last night about the alleged 7% percent teacher pay raise the General Assembly passed this year doesn’t mean all the Republicans in the General Assembly are happy with it. Rowan County legislators in particular don’t seem thrilled with the 7% or 5% percent or 0.29% percent salary increase according to a story in a Salisbury Post over the weekend.

Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican who represents Rowan County, said the budget and, subsequently, the teacher pay raise, weren’t fiscally responsible.

“By making a commitment to fund everything that we funded, it’s going to cause some very tight fiscal maneuvering,” he said. “Money was pulled from a lot of different pots to fund the teacher raises. It was more than we can afford.”

Then there is Senator Andrew Brock who doesn’t seem to understand why there’s such a fuss about low teacher pay anyway.

Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican who represents Rowan, Iredell and Davie counties, said teacher pay may seem low, but ultimately depends on the area’s cost of living.

“When you move away from those large cities, your dollar goes further,” Brock said.

So remember that teachers. Just because you had to work 16 years to make a $40,000 salary, it’s not really a big deal, especially if you live outside the cities. And the state can’t really afford the raise that some of you received this year anyway, so there’s not likely to be another one any time soon, what with the exploding cost of those tax cuts.

With friends like these in power in Raleigh, teachers really have it made.

Commentary

In case you are wondering if the animosity between Governor Pat McCrory and Senate leaders has lessened since the legislative session adjourned, the answer seems to be no, judging by comments at this weekend’s apple festival in Hendersonville.MC_AP

McCrory rode in the King Apple Parade Monday and told the Times-News that he was still upset about the new coal ash commission created by the General Assembly and believes it is unconstitutional. McCrory said his lawyers are still reviewing the coal ash legislation that includes the commission.

That prompted powerful Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca, who represents Hendersonville and was also in the parade, to respond with this about McCrory’s legal team.

His attorney is probably a great attorney for real estate closings, but I don’t think he pays a lot of attention to the constitutional picture.

Ouch.

It’s not clear from McCrory’s comments if he still plans to sign the coal ash bill. It is clear that his relationship with Senate leaders is still strained.

Uncategorized

The big story of the day is the decision by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood this morning that the private school voucher scheme passed by the General Assembly last year violates the state constitution and as Hobgood put it,

The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.

NC Policy Watch reporters Lindsay Wagner and Sharon McCloskey have more on the story on the main NCPW page.