Commentary, News

With state budget negotiations extending into next week, Rep. Darren Jackson is appealing to budget conferees to revisit the idea of giving educators and state employees a one-time bonus, amounting to about $62.50 a month.

Jackson explains in Friday’s News & Observer how a smaller (though permanent) raise in their salaries is far better than the Senate’s seemingly larger bonus, which is non-recurring:

DarrenJackson‘As negotiations started, the House proposed a $500 across-the-board raise at a cost of $134.9 million in this year’s budget while the Senate wanted a $750 across-the-board bonus at a one-time cost of $202.3 million. But here is the rub: Not only is the $500 across-the-board raise cheaper this year for the state, allowing for full funding of both driver’s education and textbooks, but it’s better for the employee in the long run, and the difference is huge.

It’s equally as clear that the House negotiating proposal to do a $500 across-the-board raise is still superior to the Senate demand for a $750 bonus. Of course, in this year, the bonus would be $250 more, but each year going forward, the raise is a better deal for the employee than the bonus. Over 30 years, the raise would provide an employee with an additional $15,975. Furthermore, the raise would provide an additional retirement benefit of $356 a year for the rest of the employee’s life.

Of course, there is a simple compromise between the House and Senate proposals that would be a win/win for our teachers and state employees. We could give a $500 raise and a $250 retirement-eligible bonus. Our teachers and state employees deserve it.’

Read Rep. Jackson’s full letter here.

House and Senate leaders are hoping to finalize the state budget next week before the latest continuing budget resolution expires on September 18th.


mcdowellAll four magistrates in McDowell County are refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

Under Senate Bill 2, magistrates may legally recuse themselves from performing such ceremonies if they have a “sincerely held religious belief” opposing such unions. But under the new law, magistrates who recuse themselves, must recuse themselves from performing all marriage ceremonies for six months.

The result?

Two Rutherford County magistrates are having to drive a half hour back and forth three times a week to cover duties that McDowell County’s magistrates have refused to perform.

WLOS-TV in Asheville reports:

“Every single one has said they will opt out and won’t do the marriages. They have arranged for Rutherford County magistrates to devote ten hours to performing marriages here,” Chief District Judge Randy Pool said. “They are following the law and cannot perform marriages of any kind for six months, just as long as we do ten hours a week which is the what the law requires.”

The office now offers marriage services three days a week for limited hours: Mondays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Equality NC was quick to criticize the decision, calling out the workers on social media:






Across North Carolina fewer than three dozen magistrates have recused themselves from performing marriages. This is the first reported case where all the magistrates in one county have refused to serve gay couples seeking to marry.

Earlier this week, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis made national headlines when she was released from jail, six days after being held in contempt for refusing court orders that she issue marriage licenses to gay couples.


Gov. McCrory will sign Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Sen. Bob Rucho.

Governor Pat McCrory will be in Gastonia Thursday to sign legislation requiring those applying for unemployment benefits to dramatically increase the number of jobs they apply for each week.

Under Senate Bill 15, a job-seeker would be required to apply for a minimum of five jobs per week (up from two) to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Last month, Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie) told her House colleagues the legislation was intended to get jobless individuals “in the habit” of looking for work.

But some lawmakers, including Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe) suggested the new requirement would inundate local employers with applications, many from unqualified individuals, simply to meet the job contact requirement.

SB 15 would also establish 12 weeks as the minimum period and 20 weeks as the maximum period for those who qualify for benefits. The duration would depend on the seasonal adjusted statewide unemployment rate.

Thursday’s bill signing will be at JobLink West in Gaston County, where the unemployment rate stands at 6.4 percent.





If you missed it over the Labor Day Holiday, the good folks at the NC Justice Center have released a fascinating new report that examines the future of work in our state in the not too distant future.

Like the national economy in recent years, North Carolina has experienced significant decline in its labor force, the replacement of good-wage manufacturing jobs with low-wage service jobs, wage stagnation, and increased income inequality.

Rapid technological development presents two main challenges to policy makers: first, increased automation is on a course that could potentially eliminate jobs and entire occupations; and second, communications and logistics technologies are making it easier to fundamentally transform the relationship between employer and employee in a way that weakens worker bargaining power, protections, and wages.

Allan Freyer and Patrick McHugh, two of the authors of The State of Working North Carolina 2015: The Future of Work, appear on NC Policy Watch’s radio show this week to discuss the new report and what the findings will mean for employees, employers as well as North Carolina lawmakers.

Click below to hear an excerpt of that radio interview. You can learn more about their research on the main Policy Watch website.

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