Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Education cuts1. National report: K-12 funding cuts in North Carolina among the worst in the nation

A national report released today seems to confirm what many of the N.C. General Assembly’s harshest critics have long declared: K-12 education funding in North Carolina has fallen prodigiously since the economic recession of 2008, and has worsened even as the state’s economy begins to rebound.

The report, authored by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, lists North Carolina among just eight states nationwide that have cut general funding per student by almost 10 percent or more since 2008.

From the report: [Continue reading…]

manning2. Judge Howard Manning steps away from landmark education case

Judge Howard Manning will no longer oversee Leandro v. State, the landmark education lawsuit that he has presided over for nearly 20 years.

Manning made a request to be removed from the case, and Chief Justice Mark Martin reassigned it on Oct. 7 to Emergency Superior Court Judge David Lee, according to Sharon Gladwell, communications director at the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. She did not return two follow up emails and a message seeking more information and a formal court filing.

Melanie Dubis, who represents the plaintiffs in Leandro, and Mark Dorosin, an attorney working on the case for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the development and therefore could not comment.[Continue reading…]

rudo-and-gerlach-13. Sworn testimony contradicts McCrory administration coal ash claims

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office — and possibly McCrory himself — did influence the wording on health risk evaluations that were sent to well owners, contrary to his assertions that he was not involved.

That’s according to two depositions obtained by NC Policy Watch: New testimony by state toxicologist Ken Rudo and another by Kendra Gerlach, communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rudo’s deposition was taken on Sept. 14 by lawyers for the Department of Environmental Quality and Duke Energy. Gerlach was deposed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on Sept. 20.

Gerlach testified that at the behest of McCrory’s communications office, DHHS inserted language into the forms that could have downplayed the health risk of hexavalent chromium. [Continue reading….] Read more

Commentary, News

Trending today on social media: #EarlyVoting, #NCvotes

With the debates now in the history books, voters are taking advantage of early voting in several states today.

Across North Carolina, long lines are being reported — not just in the state’s larger cities, but also in the smaller communities that were recently contending with the floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew.

Here are just a few pictures from Twitter with folks sharing their experience at the polls:


As early voting begins, Latinos hope to have a greater impact (Audio)

Early voting in North Carolina kicked off this morning (Oct. 20th) and runs through November 5th.

One group hoping to have greater influence this election cycle is registered Latino voters.

In 20102 there were 169,000 eligible Latino voters in North Carolina, but only about 95,000 voted.

Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, says convincing those who stayed away from the polls last time to vote this year could greatly impact the anti-immigrant agenda.

The Hispanic population accounts for 2 percent of registered voters in North Carolina.

Click below to hear more from Policy Watch’s interview with Huerta.

To find an early voting site in your county, click here.

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WATCH: McCrory, Cooper spar over abortion restrictions in final debate

Hurricane relief, the Carolina Comeback, HB2 and coal ash were just some of the topics the three men vying to be North Carolina’s governor covered in their final debate.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory found himself having to revisit a 2012 debate answer, in which he vowed that he would not enact any additional restrictions on abortion.

Tuesday night, McCrory tried to explain his decision to later approve a 72-hour waiting period on abortions. The governor said that decision ultimately prevented greater restrictions on women from the state House and Senate.

Democrat Roy Cooper suggested that McCrory reneged on his pledge to women and could not be trusted.

Watch the exchange below between Gov. McCrory, Attorney General Cooper, and Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil:

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Five fast facts about the Wake County Transit Referendum

With early voting beginning this week, Wake County voters will have a chance to decide on a $2.3 Billion transit plan to relieve congestion and dramatically improve public transportation over the next decade. Here are five fast facts about the initiative from the good folks at Moving Wake County Forward:

#1 – Wake County grows by 64 people every day. A modern, public transportation system that reduces traffic congestion will grow the economy and provide new and better transportation options for everyone.

# 2 – All towns will have new or expanded express bus service, and several communities will have commuter rail access as well. Some towns have no bus service today. Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson tells Policy Watch the plan will be ‘transformational.’

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#3 – 50% of all homes and 70% of all jobs will be within 1/2 mile of a transit stop.

#4 – The 10-year plan is conservatively projected to cost $2.3 billion. The Wake County portion is around 50% of total costs; the federal portion is about 25%, with the balance coming from debt financing, farebox revenue, and other sources.

#5 – The best way to learn more about the Wake County Transit Referendum is to attend Tuesday’s Crucial Conversation hosted by NC Policy Watch. (Register today.)

Can’t attend, but want to know more?  Listen to Chris Fitzsimon’s full podcast with Commissioner Sig Hutchinson and Wake Up Wake County’s Karen Rindge.