Even as House and Senate leaders tout a seven percent pay raise for teachers, the North Carolina Association of Educators is out with a top ten list of why the final 2014-15 budget lawmakers will vote this week on is bad for education. The NCAE notes the budget compromise takes away longevity pay, funds vouchers, and covers other needed resources with one time, non-recurring funds:

Here’s the NCAE’s complete list:

Top 10 Reasons the 2014-15 Budget is Bad

  1.     The budget is built on an ill-conceived tax cut plan for the wealthy and for-profit corporations and is unsustainable.ncae
  2.     The budget is an unfulfilled promise for public education and only a small down payment on the State’s IOU to students, public education and educators.
  3.     The budget continues to disrespect educators who want to earn a master’s or other degree.
  4.     The budget does not provide a 7 percent raise, as it takes away longevity and folds it into the salary steps for teachers.
  5.     The budget is not a comprehensive plan and is not committed to moving NC teacher salaries to the national average.
  6.     The budget creates inequity for public school state employees and non-public school state employees by providing different raises.
  7.     The budget expands the use of taxpayer dollars for vouchers without accountability.
  8.     The budget appears to shift needed resources to non-recurring allocations and unstable funding sources.
  9.     The budget will place an extra burden on locals as they have to decide what to fund, what to cut and what to maintain for quality public education.
  10.     The budget has many details that have not been shared for discussion in a transparent setting or opportunity for input.

 

Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke out Monday following the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Cooper said while his office has “vigorously defended” North Carolina’s ban, today’s appellate ruling makes it clear that Amendment One will eventually be overturned.

“It’s time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court,” said North Carolina’s Attorney General.

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Watch Cooper’s full press conference here on WRAL.com.

State lawmakers may come together with a final budget bill this week, but environmentalists say there is plenty of work to do on a final coal ash management bill before legislators wrap-up the session.

Grady McCallie, policy director for the NC Conservation Network, says both the House and Senate versions of the coal ash bill (now in conference committee) are weaker than current law.

Click below to hear McCallie discuss the shortcomings in Senate Bill 729, and click here to hear his full 10 minute radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon.

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A new poll by Public Policy Polling commissioned by the NC League of Conservation Voters finds that 76% of voters surveyed think the General Assembly should require all coal ash ponds to be removed from waterways. Just 16% think they should be allowed to be capped and left in place.

Fifty-eight percent of those polled says they consider the environment be ‘very important’ in determining how they will vote in the next election.

To view the crosstabs on that poll, click here.

A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides a sobering look at how children are faring in North Carolina.

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which looks at 16 separate factors, ranks our state 38th in overall economic well-being, 28th in education, and 32nd in health.

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Source: KIDS COUNT Data book http://www.aecf.org

The annual report concludes:

‘Although unemployment is slowly declining, job growth has been concentrated in low-wage sectors and in nonstandard employment that tends to be less stable and offer few or no benefits, such as health insurance and paid sick leave.

A stronger labor market and an increase in job quality, along with continued efforts to boost the education and training levels of low-income parents, would help to further reduce child poverty.’

In North Carolina, 26% of children lived in poverty in 2012, according to the new report.

Locally, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is working to help address this problem by creating long-term solutions to hunger for North Carolina’s low-income families.  To learn more about this week’s special HungerFreeNC community movement, click here.

Hear more about food insecurity from the Food Shuttle’s executive director Jill Bullard on News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon.

Also be sure to watch Thursday’s documentary “Hungry for Answers” at 7:00 p.m. on WRAL-TV.

Last week Cleveland County Rep. Tim Moore filed a July 25th sine die resolution setting the stage for lawmakers to wrap up the short session by Friday. Now it appears the chairman of the House Rules Committee may have been overly optimistic.

Here are five reasons why adjournment this week is looking unlikely:

  • Budget deadlock – House and Senate budget conferees have not met since last week, when the Senate put forth its latest offer. No public budget negotiations are on the calendar today, and House Speaker Thom Tillis will be in Washington, D.C. at a fundraiser for his U.S. Senate campaign.
    Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue discussed the budget stalemate on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon over the weekend, noting choices made in 2013 have left legislative leaders with some tough choices this year.
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  • RulesSen. Tom Apodaca, chairman of the powerful Senate Rules committee, cancelled today’s meeting. At this point in the session, the Rules Committee is deciding which bills merit a vote before the session concludes. Apodaca promises Wednesday’s Rules committee meeting will be “even better” – but this delay does not bode well for a quick adjournment.
  • Medicaid – Speaking of delays, the Senate put off until today a vote on the Medicaid Modernization Act. The latest Senate proposal for Medicaid reform would open the door to for-profit managed care companies to bid on contracts. Critics say this version of modernization would harm the award-winning Community Care of North Carolina program and reduce participation by doctors.  Notably, this legislation would also create a new Department of Medical Benefits, taking the oversight out of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Coal Ash – Lawmakers still need to work out a compromise between completing plans to clean up the state’s toxic coal ash ponds. Don’t look for them to leave town in an election year without a deal on this issue.
  • Fulghum’s funeral  – Funeral services are now set for Wake County Rep. Jim Fulghum, who died Saturday following a short battle with cancer. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at Edenton Street United Methodist Church. Members from both chambers are likely to attend Dr. Fulghum’s service, pushing off final decisions on many of the larger issues for another day.