Uncategorized

McC709The General Assembly kicks off the summer session at noon but the big story of the day comes an hour later when Governor Pat McCrory unveils his budget recommendations for next year.

It is worth remembering that McCrory only proposes the budget, the House and Senate actually approve it. And if last year is any indication, the final budget may not look much like the one released today.

Last March, McCrory sent lawmakers a spending plan that called for a one-percent across the board raise for teachers and state employees.  The final budget that lawmakers passed and that McCrory signed contained no raise for teachers or state workers.

McCrory’s budget called for $58 million in new funding for textbooks in schools to restore some of the cuts in textbook funding in the last two years. The final budget included no new funding for textbooks.

McCrory’s budget called for $9 million more for instructional supplies for schools. The final budget that passed the House and Senate instead cut another $6 million for classroom supplies.

And McCrory’s budget called for $3.3 million in funding for the highly successful drug treatment courts that the Republican General Assembly had defunded in the last two years. McCrory even singled out the drug courts in his State of the State speech. But the final budget passed by the General Assembly included no funding for the drug courts.

There are plenty more examples and then there is tax reform. McCrory also said in his State of the State speech that any tax reform must be revenue neutral, but the final tax plan approved last summer will cost $600 million a year when fully implemented and is a major reason why there is a budget hole this year and a shortfall projected for next year.

So take whatever you hear today and read in the headlines tomorrow about McCrory’s budget with a grain of salt. The leaders of the House and the Senate will make the major budget decisions again this year, not the Governor, no matter how assertive he promises to be.

Uncategorized

The folks who seem to have staked their entire political careers on opposing the Affordable Care Act are growing increasingly desperate as the law continues to work and provide coverage for millions of Americans who were previously uninsured.

Steven Benen has a good summary of the latest effort to mislead the public about the ACA, a  cheap publicity stunt by House Republicans rife with factual errors and bogus claims.

Uncategorized
Rep. Hardister

Rep. Hardister

Here’s an interesting comment you might have missed  from Republican Rep. Jon Hardister from Guilford County. He now wishes he had voted against the budget the General Assembly passed last summer that cut funding for education and left teachers without a pay raise.

Hardister made the remarks at an education forum in Chapel Hill last week.

“I voted for the budget last year,” he said. “And I since have come to regret that vote, since I’ve been out listening to parents and visiting classrooms and experiencing firsthand how hard the teachers work.”

It’s nice that Rep. Hardister now realizes his mistake. Too bad he didn’t listen to parents and teachers before he voted to slash school funding.

Uncategorized

It was a banner weekend for dumb quotes from North Carolina political leaders.  It’s hard to pick the worst one but here are the nominees.

1) Governor Pat McCrory.  McCrory appeared at the Maine Republican Party Convention this weekend where he shared a lobster lunch with Governor Paul LePage and praised him with this declaration.

Other governors throughout the United States so much respect him because he says what needs to be said.

LePage is a Tea Party governor who has repeatedly made headlines with a series of offensive statements like comparing the IRS to the Gestapo and the Holocaust, charging that a Democratic state Senator “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without Vaseline,” and saying that President Obama hates white people.

Politico called him America’s craziest governor, detailing many his outrageous statements and decisions. (If you want to read more lunacy from LePage, check out the list of LePage quotes the Bangor Daily News put together last summer.) Read More

Uncategorized

A legislative study committee today approved a bill that would back the state out of the Common Core education standards, which has become a rallying cry on the Tea Party right.

There are some opponents of Common Core on the left too, but most of the energy for repealing the standards in North Carolina is coming from the Republican base, some of whom believe it is either an effort by the federal government to take over education or a communist inspired plot hatched in the United Nations.

President Obama supports Common Core, which apparently is reason enough for some Republicans to be against it, but so does former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and most importantly so does North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory—which raises an interesting question.

What will McCrory do this summer if the Republican General Assembly passes the bill the study committee approved today?