Commentary

McCrory_budget305-aIn case you wondered if the relationship between Senate leaders and Governor Pat McCrory has improved, the answer would be a resounding no judging by a recent interview of powerful Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Apodaca was asked about the progress in state budget negotiations and blasted the House for “going a little crazy” and then the topic turned to Gov. McCrory.

Will the governor play a role in these negotiations?

“No. The governor doesn’t play much of a role in anything.”

Yikes. Senate leaders not only don’t agree with McCrory, they can’t even bring themselves to take him seriously.

Commentary

A Charlotte Observer editorial over the weekend calling for Gov. Pat McCrory to demand a line banning policy changes from future state budgets before he will sign this year’s spending plan includes what may the best one line summary of the McCrory Administration that has been written since McCrory took office in 2013.

From the start of his tenure, he’s been the boy on the runaway horse, unable to rein in a conservative and dismissive Republican legislature

That about sums it up and there’s not much evidence that the boy on the horse is capable of slowing it down any time soon.

Uncategorized

A coalition of workers’ rights groups this week called on vacationing state lawmakers to pass legislation when they return to Raleigh that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave and family leave for their employees.

Here is the way Alan Freyer, with the workers’ rights project of the N.C. Justice Center put it.

“It is great that lawmakers were able to take time off in the middle of a busy legislative session. We think it’s great because we think everyone in North Carolina should be able to take time off, particularly when they’re sick,” Freyer said. “Right now, there are more than a million North Carolinians who work full time and don’t have access to paid sick days. That means they have to choose between keeping their job, earning their wages and being sick.”

Read more about why paid sick days is good for workers and businesses here.

Commentary

Layoffs at public schools have begun as local education officials wait for state lawmakers to return from vacation and come to a final agreement on the budget for the next two years.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that more than 30 TAs have already been let go from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and more layoffs might be coming.

Crutchfield said the district first cut 55 of its 500 teacher assistant positions before either the House or Senate budget proposals were released. Crutchfield said school officials expected to lose $25 million in non-recurring funding from the previous budget. Another 55 positions were cut after the Senate budget was released. If the full cuts in the Senate proposal are adopted, the district would need to eliminate almost twice as many positions.

“We still have our fingers crossed that the compromise (budget) will not cut deeper than 110 positions,” Crutchfield said. Crutchfield said the district would have to lay people off after they were already planning to report to work in August.

Legislative leaders can spin all they want to, but they continue to make it harder for teachers and schools to educate their students.

Uncategorized

Voting rightsBob Geary  has put together the compelling reasons for folks to head to Winston-Salem Monday for the march and rally for voting rights on the first day of the federal court trial of the voter suppression law passed by the General Assembly in 2013.

Geary reminds us that the law includes more than 50 pages of voting impediments, not just the photo ID provision that has received the most publicity, the provision that lawmakers softened recently in a panic before the trial started.

What remains of HB 589? It reduces the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10. (In the 2012 elections, 70 percent of black voters came early, compared to 52 percent of whites.) It eliminates same-day registration and voting during the early voting period. (Blacks, who are 22 percent of the voting population, were 34 percent of the same-day registrant-voters.) And if you vote in the wrong precinct—say, because you moved—none of your votes count, even for president.

One upshot is that people who come to an early-voting site and aren’t properly registered will be too late to get properly registered in time to vote on Election Day. North Carolina, in the top 12 states for voter turnout since same-day registration began in 2008, may sink back to the bottom.

Learn more about the march and the courts case at www.july13marchforvotingrights.org.