Commentary, News

Final48Hours1. Not much to celebrate about the legislative session’s final days
The 2015 session of the General Assembly adjourned just after 4:00 Wednesday morning, ending several days of frenzied activity that left many observers scrambling to figure out exactly what happened, much like surveying the damage in a neighborhood the morning after a ferocious overnight storm. And it may take a while.

Many of the news accounts of the session’s tumultuous last days left many progressive advocates breathing a sigh of relief that several especially regressive proposals ultimately failed, abandoned because lawmakers ran out of time or simply couldn’t muster enough support.

The Senate passed legislation Monday night that would divert more funding from traditional public schools to charters—even federal money that pays for school lunches that charters are not required to provide—but the proposal stalled in the House. [Continue Reading…]

Bonus video: Lengthy legislative session wraps-up with some controversial provisions saved for 2016

2. Last minute education proposals that didn’t survive the 2015 legislative session

One of the longest legislative sessions in more than a decade (possibly the longest since 2002) came to a close during the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Here’s a quick update on some last minute controversial proposals affecting public education that ultimately didn’t become law.

Charter school funding 

Sen. Jerry Tillman breathed new life back into a proposal heard earlier this session that would have diverted funds typically reserved for traditional public schools over to charter schools.

Using the ‘gut and amend’ process, Tillman shoved the complicated language into a House bill that was previously about school playgrounds a week and a half before the close of session. Loads of push back ensued from the school boards association, school administrators and other education advocates.[Continue Reading…]

wb-92920153. Will McCrory veto legislative leaders’ brazen power grab?

Last minute political slush fund bill draws opposition from across the spectrum

It should probably come as no surprise given the relentless drive of North Carolina conservatives to accumulate political power and silence their opponents, but there’s still something remarkably brazen about the late session campaign finance law change that lawmakers sent to Governor McCrory last Friday.

As reported in numerous venues (this summary by reporter Mark Binker of WRAL was one of the better ones), lawmakers appended the controversial provision onto a bill that would change next year’s primary election from May to March (itself a controversial and questionable change). The provision would allow the leader of each political party caucus of the House of Representatives and Senate (i.e. the Speaker of the House, the Senate President Pro Tem, and the minority leaders in both houses) to establish a separate, “affiliated party committee” to support the election of candidates of that leader’s political party. [Continue Reading…]

NCPW-CC-2014-08-21-SCOTUS-web4. First Monday in October: The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court term

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday with several cases set for argument and others waiting in the wings. The high court’s docket for the term is by no means set, and the justices are likely to consider, among others, controversial cases involving abortion rights, immigration and religious freedom exemptions from contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are a few of the noteworthy cases the high court has already agreed to hear.

One person, one vote

Who should states count when tabulating populations for redistricting purposes? That’s the question presented in Evenwel v. Abbott, a case that’s as much about state’s rights as it is about voting rights. [Continue Reading…]

dhhs-4005. Federal criminal probe ongoing at North Carolina’s health agency

Aldona Wos may no longer be the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, but there’s still plenty of interest in how she ran the agency.

In particular, a federal grand jury wants to know how several contracts were awarded to members of her inner circle, as well as to a consulting firm that took over much of the management of the state’s Medicaid program.

The grand jury is also looking at a troubled Medicaid billing unit that was the subject of several audits that found the supervisor wasted more than $1.6 million in unnecessary overtime and the hiring of friends, family and her church members. The federal probe was first reported by the News & Observer late Friday.

DHHS spokesman Jim Jones said the agency is complying with the federal investigation. [Continue Reading…]


lw-819Numbers released this week from the state Department of Public Instruction show the state’s teacher turnover rate edged higher in 2014-15 to stand at 14.84%

That’s slightly higher than last year’s rate, and represents 14,255 teachers who opted to leave their current position.

Over 30% of those who left the classroom reported plans to stay in education, but move to a different LEA, shift to a charter or private school, or explore a non-teaching, administrative or coaching position. More than 1,000 said they left to teach in another state.

Another 1,209 said they were dissatisfied with teaching and would be changing careers.

Districts with the highest percentage of teachers leaving the classroom included: Northampton County, Washington County, Bertie County, and Warren County. In each of those four districts the teacher turnover rate exceeded 30%.

Read the full report here.

Turover rates 2010-2015

Commentary, News

State lawmakers are back in their home districts this weekend having wrapped up the nine-month legislative session on Wednesday.

What will they remember as the highlights? What opportunities did they miss?

Orange County Rep. Graig Meyer believes lawmakers did not do enough for educators in this year’s budget. He calls the $750 one-time bonus teachers and state employees will receive “a cynical political ploy.”

Meyer also finds fault with the leadership’s decision to further cut the corporate tax rate:

“We’re giving another two percent decrease in the corporate tax rate. That means if you are an individual, you’re going to pay 2.5 % more taxes on your income than Google or any other profitable corporations is going to pay on their income,” explained Meyer.

“And I guess that most corporations in North Carolina would happily have just left that tax rate where it was, if it meant we could have brought our teacher pay up to the national average.”

Meyer also weighs in on the state’s decision to privatize Medicaid this session, but not expand the program to cover more uninsured North Carolinians.

Click below to hear an excerpt from Meyer’s recent radio interview with NC Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon. A podcast of the full interview is available here.

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Commentary, News

If you weren’t able to attend NC Policy Watch’s Crucial Conversation with Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, that full program is now available online.

This week’s event featured  Nassirian, Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis at AASCU, discussing the for-profit college industry and why it has become rife with sketchy operators who take advantage of vulnerable consumers.

Please watch and then share this special presentation:
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The U.S. House approved a stopgap spending bill (277-151) on Wednesday to keep the federal government operating through December 11th.

Congressman David Price (NC-04) was among just four members of the state delegation to support the continuing resolution:

“I once again join my colleagues in urging Speaker Boehner to resume bipartisan budget negotiations and produce reasonable, responsible funding levels that can allow the appropriations process to move forward. Today, we’re buying ourselves a couple of months. Instead of lurching toward another crisis in December, let’s actually come to a consensus on the kind of investments in our future that a great country must make.”

Here’s how the rest of North Carolina’s U.S. House delegation voted:


Reps. McHenry, Price, Adams, Butterfield

Rep. G.K. Butterfield – 1st District
Rep. David Price – 4th District
Rep. Patrick McHenry – 10th District
Rep. Alma Adams – 12th district

Rep. Renee Ellmers – 2nd District
Rep. Walter Jones – 3rd District
Rep. Virginia Foxx – 5th District
Rep. Mark Walker – 6th District
Rep. David Rouzer – 7th District
Rep. Robert Pittenger – 9th District
Rep. Mark Meadows – 11th District
Rep. George Holding – 13th District

Not voting
Rep. Richard Hudson – 8th District