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budgetcutsThe NC House gave final approval (66-44) Saturday to a $21.1 Billion state budget. The measure now heads to Gov. McCrory, who said on Friday he would be proud to sign it.

The Director of the NC Budget & Tax Center says the plan places our state on an unsustainable path. Here’s the full statement from Alexandra Forter Sirota:

North Carolinians want a quality education for their children, safe and healthy communities, and protections for those in need, but the final budget fails to reflect these priorities in a fiscally responsible way.

Instead, the budget puts North Carolina on an unsustainable path because policymakers have failed to stop the costly tax cuts that will continue to erode the state’s ability to invest in the building blocks a strong economy.

 

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Senator Jeff Jackson took Senate leaders to task Thursday for rushing to approve the $21.1 billion budget plan just hours after the 260-page document had been made public.

The Mecklenburg County Democrat, appointed in May to  replace former state Senator Dan Clodfelter, chastised the chamber for failing to include any members of minority party in the extensive negotiations, then rushing to pass the mammoth spending package before lawmakers could fully read it:

“I could bring ten people in off the street, explain to each of them how this budget was made, and everyone of them would tell you they expect more from us,” said Jackson.

“You’re going to say Democrats did it worse. And you are right, you’re absolutely right. But in carrying on this legacy, you’re wrong. You’ve mislearned all of those lessons.

Being in power means being able to change things for the better. This isn’t just the way it works, this isn’t just the way it’s always worked. It’s wrong. And maybe it takes the new kid on the block to tell you that, but so be it.”

The state budget won final Senate approved around 12:30 a.m. Friday. House members take up the bill this hour, and hope to give it their final approval early Saturday morning.

House and Senate leaders have postponed any decisions on coal ash regulations until mid-November, after the elections.

Click below to hear some of Sen. Jackson’s remarks on the Senate floor:

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This week’s marriage equality ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Bostic v. Schaeffer  has prompted a great deal of celebration by equality supporters in North Carolina and around the country. Attorney General Roy Cooper’s quick follow-up announcement that the state would no longer seek to defend the marriage discrimination law enacted in Amendment One.

The only problem, of course, is that marriage equality is still not yet the law in the Tar Heel state.

So where does that leave North Carolina?

Join NC Policy Watch next Thursday, August 7, at noon for a very special Crucial Conversation where we will hear from our expert panel as it wrestles with related questions.

Our panel will include Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation; Jen Jones, Director of Communications and Outreach at Equality North Carolina; and plaintiffs in the court challenge to North Carolina’s marriage discrimination amendment.

Brook is also our guest this weekend on our weekly radio show, News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon.  Click below to hear a preview of that interview, and click here to register for the August 7th Crucial Conversation in Raleigh:

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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.

 

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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.