Top of the Morning

The New York Times editorial this morning explores the pernicious role the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is playing in state legislatures around the country. 

It’s based on a report from ProgressVA that found many bills in the Virginia General Assembly were lifted almost word for word from proposals from ALEC on issues like voter ID, anti-health care reform, gun rights, and for-profit virtual charter schools.

Sound familiar?

 

You might have missed it in all the talk about Governor Bev Perdue’s decision not to seek reelection, but the unhinging of House Speaker Thom Tills continued this weekend.

Tillis, who a few weeks ago compared the Charlotte Observer to roadkill because of its coverage of the unannounced midnight legislative session, this weekend sent out a Facebook message “resigning” himself to this:

The continued partisan and sometimes ruthless antics of the left aided by some in the mainstream press, will continue to threaten or stifle legitimate efforts to improve the situation in North Carolina for all involved

Mark Binker has the story on his Capital Beat blog, but Binker’s colleague Doug Clark, an editorial writer at the News & Record,  has the best take on the latest Tillis tirade. 

WSOC-TV in Charlotte talked with Tillis’ spokesman Jordan Shaw, who tried to explain what Tillis really meant and finally said “it’s just his personality.”

Be sure to check out Harry Payne’s op-ed in the N&O this morning about the shameful way the Republican leadership in the General Assembly recently treated Lynn Holmes, the former Chair of the Employment Security Commission that was recently moved to the Department of Commerce.

At the meeting, Holmes provided specific answers in writing to every question that had been submitted and patiently explained them in detail. Before she answered any questions from the committee, Rucho required her to take an unprecedented step and be put under oath. They had a court reporter and a Bible waiting, but no real reason for her treatment other than a vague reference to “circumstances.”

It was a stunning insult to her. Her staff was present and watched. One of them answered similar questions but he wasn’t sworn. The commerce secretary testified too, but wasn’t asked to place his hand on a Bible. Even a paid advocate from Washington who spouted many numbers regarding inheritance tax wasn’t required to raise his hand.

House Speaker Thom Tillis must be having trouble these days keeping up with all the media outlets he wants to hold a grudge against.

Mark Binker with the Greensboro News & Record reported this weekend that Tillis said on Facebook he was cancelling his 14-year subscription to the Charlotte Observer after the paper’s reporting about the last minute 12:45 a.m. special legislative session last Thursday morning.

The increasingly unhinged Tillis compared the Observer to road kill and said that he would instead use Google alerts to read about “areas of interest” published in North Carolina papers.  

He can’t be too happy with his email inbox this morning, no doubt filled with Google alerts about editorials from around the state blasting Tillis’ abuse of the legislative process last week.

The condemnation has been virtually unanimous. Two of the latest papers to weigh in were the Greenville Daily Reflector, which called the House’s action cowardly, and the Rocky Mount Telegram, whose editorial called Tillis and his fellow House leaders a “a cynical and sneaky bunch who have made a mockery of their empty promises to promote open government in the legislature.’

 

The maddening debate continues over the state’s growing Medicaid shortfall that has now reached $150 million in the current fiscal year and is projected to reach $250 million in 2012-2013.

The budget passed by Republicans last summer directs HHS Secretary Lanier Cansler to cut services and/or reimbursement rates to providers if the savings built into the budget are not realized.

Administration officials told legislative leaders at the time the savings were unrealistic and even some Republicans pointed out that budget writers were playing games like double counting a cut in the inflationary increase in the program. The budget included the savings anyway.

A couple of months ago Cansler asked lawmakers for advice and Rep. Nelson Dollar told him at a public meeting not to cut services or reduce rates, even though the budget orders him to, and that Republicans would work with HHS to find a way to address the shortfall without cutting services to people who need them.

But Dollar and his colleagues have since refused to help, with Rep. Justin Burr saying Tuesday that it’s all Gov. Beverly Perdue’s problem to solve.

It is not really that complicated. The Republicans needed to slash Medicaid funding to pay for their tax cut. Now they don’t want the blame for the pain the cuts will cause.