Commentary

Editorial: GOP budget proposal is “monument to bad management”

This morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com (“New NC budget – poor management, failed responsibilities, missed opportunities”) offers a scathing and sadly accurate takedown of the new state budget proposal sent by state lawmakers to Governor Cooper yesterday.

“Try all they want. Spin gullible reporters, political partisans and unsuspecting citizens all they can. Desperately try to portray a distorted picture of the slap-dash, ideologically slanted North Carolina budget as a masterpiece.

In the end, the budget the leaders of the General Assembly have dictated is a monument to bad management.

It falls damagingly short of serving even the most basic of the state’s priorities. It ill-serves our public education system, those most in need and sells short agencies and individuals seeking to make North Carolina a better place to live and prosper.”

The editorial also skewers one of the legislative leadership’s chief accomplices, the NC Chamber.

“Effective business leaders invest in their employees, provide a work environment that encourages success, set high standards, focus on the future and are positive about the companies they run.

In the General Assembly, the leadership denigrates the state’s employees, short changes the resources they need to do their jobs well, cuts the benefits of new employees (and makes working for the state even less attractive), and rarely misses opportunities to bad-mouth the government and taxpayers who finance their mismanagement.

This malfeasance is aided and abetted by an organization that should be leadership’s harshest foe – the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has sold its soul, and the state’s economic viability, in return for short-sighted cuts in corporate income and other business taxes, a third-world minimum wage and a neglected workforce.”

The editorial goes on to blast the pork barrel spending that legislative leaders dumped on select Democrats to secure their votes for the plan and heaps special derision on the new expansion of the state’s unaccountable school voucher scheme. Here’s the excellent conclusion: Read more

Commentary

The Senate version of Trumpcare: Worse than we’d imagined

Reporter Amanda Michelle Gomez at Think Progress has the latest in a story entitled “Senate’s health care bill shreds Medicaid and essential health benefits, and more”:

“Any hopes that Senate Republicans would moderate their House colleagues’ health care bill were dashed on Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) finally unveiled his chamber’s long-awaited version of the GOP health plan. Sen. McConnell’s bill looks a lot like the House’s American Health Care Act—except where its cuts to coverage, particularly Medicaid are even harsher.

Here are some key Senate market reforms in the Senate draft released Thursday:

  • Elimination of the individual and employer mandates.
  • Premium taxes based on age, income, and geography like Obamacare but, but with adjusted thresholds that disproportionately hurt older and poorer Americans
  • Begins to cut Medicaid program expansion starting in 2021, with a three-year phase out. (This will not matter for 8 states with “trigger laws,” which terminate immediately once federal funds are affected.) And then cuts the rest of the budget’s program too.
  • Tax cuts for the wealthy by repealing Obamacare tax increases.
  • Cost sharing subsidies end in 2020, but could end earlier if the Trump Administration cuts them off.
  • States can still waive Obamacare regulations, such as essential benefits.
  • Planned Parenthood could face a one-year Medicaid funding freeze.

The Senate Republicans who largely shaped the health care bill looked to make the House-passed bill more palatable for its moderate and conservative members. The result was a bill that differs in some respects from the AHCA while being largely the same in its net effect.”

The report goes on to to explain that Senate leaders are looking to pass the bill next week through what’s known as the “budget reconciliation” process in order to get around the Senate’s usual 60-vote rule. The story also notes that there’s no word from the Prevaricator-in-chief yet on whether he considers the proposal “mean.”

Commentary

NC government will give $300K in public funds to religious anti-abortion advocacy group

It’s bad enough that North Carolina lawmakers are preparing to give a bunch of money to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that mislead women by implying that they provide actual health care when their entire mission is to convince them to carry their pregnancies to term, no matter what the circumstances of the pregnancy or health risks. Now, they’re prepared to make things worse by earmarking $300,000 to a Texas-based anti-choice advocacy outfit that exists to outlaw all abortions. This is from the folks at the nonprofit watchdog Media Matters:

“Human Coalition is an anti-abortion organization that uses internet marketing strategies to deceive so-called ‘abortion-determined’ women in an attempt to steer them to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), facilities that try to convince pregnant persons to reject abortion. According to a February 2017 Live Action News profile of the group, the organization’s goal is to ‘make abortion unthinkable and unavailable’ by directing patients to a network of CPCs — some of which are operated by Human Coalition itself. In 2007, founder Brian Fisher and his friend Tim Kachuriak piloted the idea of ‘targeting the people making [pro-abortion] searches with ads for life-affirming resources,’ theorizing that they could use ‘internet search engine marketing’ to stop abortion. The organization was referred to as Online for Life until 2016 when it rebranded itself as Human Coalition. In a March 2017 speech for the hate group Family Research Council (FRC), Fisher told attendees, ‘Human Coalition is one of the larger pro-life groups in the country that no one has ever heard of.’”

This from the group’s website:

“Abortion is a stain on America. And the God who gives life will not hold us guiltless.”

Now, under the new proposed state budget, if it becomes law:

“$300,000 in nonrecurring funds for each fiscal year of the 2017-2019 fiscal biennium shall be transferred to the Human Coalition, a nonprofit organization, to develop and implement a two-year continuum of care pilot program…

Funds  allocated  to  the  Human  Coalition  shall  be  used  to develop and implement a two-year pilot program at its Raleigh clinic to provide a continuum of care and support to assist women experiencing crisis pregnancies to continue their pregnancies to full term.”

In sum, just one of scores of dreadful decisions in the new state budget. Let’s hope Governor Cooper vetoes it and calls out the many outrageous provisions (like this one) included therein.

 

Commentary

Editorial: A “train wreck” of a state budget

The lead editorial in the Fayetteville Observer tells it like it is this morning about the budget agreement produced by Republican leaders at the General Assembly. The editorial is entitled “A state budget that will become a train wreck.” Here are some excerpts:

“Gov. Roy Cooper says the budget just unveiled in the General Assembly is ‘the most fiscally irresponsible budget I’ve ever seen.’

There he goes again, understated to a fault.

It’s all that Cooper said it is, and much worse. It’s either stupid or irrational — or both. Why in the world would the General Assembly feel driven to cut the corporate tax rate by half a percentage point when ours is already the lowest rate in the country — by two points or more? What business could our legislative leaders believe they will attract here when we already outdo every other state in that category? And why would our lawmakers make that move when their own economic analysts have warned them that we risk running into a deficit in a few years?

The only reason to further cut that tax is to serve loud notice that they are deep in the pockets of corporate interests who are far more important to their legislative agenda than the health and welfare of the residents and taxpayers of North Carolina….

This doesn’t begin to address the state’s needs for infrastructure expansion. When’s the last time we heard a state politician talk about the growing need to expand and replace most of Interstate 95 in North Carolina? And what about broadband expansion, which most of our lawmakers have agreed is the vehicle needed for economic growth in the state’s rural areas? This budget invests nothing in it.”

The editorial gives lawmakers a couple of points for its attempt ot provide some raises to state employees and expanding efforts to combat opioid addictions, it closes this way:

“If we had a choice, we’d send this budget back to the General Assembly and tell the lawmakers to try again. That’s clearly what the governor wants to do. But in most matters, the legislature holds a veto-proof majority. Unless a lot of Republicans desert their leadership, this dangerous budget is likely to become law.

And we’ll all sit and wait to be part of the coming train wreck.”

Commentary

Progressives: GOP Budget deal represents another missed opportunity

Republican legislative leaders announced last night that they have agreed to a final agreement on a new state budget that would commence July 1. As usual, neither Governor Cooper nor Democratic members of the legislature were invited to participate in the negotiations, though ,of, course, the Governor can veto the bill. Not surprisingly, given the disastrous track record of the past six years, the proposal comes up woefully short.

Fiscal policy expert Alexandra Sirota of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center put it this way last night:

“The final budget that state lawmakers will vote on in the coming days reflects missed opportunities for North Carolina. By pursuing more tax cuts, even as states like Kansas have reversed course and abandoned their own failed tax-cut experiment, leaders of the NC General Assembly have chosen to stay the course and continue to do less for more North Carolinians.

North Carolina’s leaders should put forward a budget that truly reflects the priorities of our growing state, including healthy and safe communities, quality educational opportunities and skills training, thriving communities, and broadly shared economic prosperity. They should make a sustained commitment to rebuilding Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew rather than offering just a fraction of what is needed. Instead, lawmakers have chosen to give even more benefits to the wealthy and profitable corporations. As state leaders continue to dig their heels in on their failed tax cut experiment, it is time for leaders across the state to emerge and demonstrate the harm of another budget that is not worthy of North Carolinians.”

And this is from the good folks at Progress NC:

“’Once again, Republican lawmakers would rather give tax handouts to big corporations and millionaires instead of investing in North Carolina’s future,’ said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. ‘This budget provides absolutely no plan to raise teacher salaries to the national average, and short-changes rural communities across the state compared to Gov. Cooper’s budget. Working families deserve better.’

  • Gov. Cooper’s budget gives teachers an average 5% raise, with significant increases for teachers at every level. The Republican budget gives teachers an average raise of only 3.3%, while many new and veteran teachers will likely receive much less.
  • Gov. Cooper’s budget provides free community college for all North Carolina high school graduates who wish to attend. The Republican budget does not.
  • Gov. Cooper’s budget expands access to broadband in rural counties. The Republican budget does not include money for rural broadband, but it does ban wind farm projects that would bring jobs to rural counties.
  • The Republican budget does nothing to restore the 7,000 teaching assistant jobs which have been cut since the recession started. Republicans hope parents simply forget that those TAs used to assist teachers in lower grade classrooms.
  • Textbook and technology funding only receives a small $11 million increase, so there is still a huge gap compared with before the recession.”

And this is from Governor Cooper himself:

“While we wait for details, the budget outlined by legislative leaders continues to shortchange education, economic development, and middle class families in favor of more tax giveaways that help the wealthy and large corporations. Those are the wrong priorities.”