Top of the Morning

Top of the Morning

Somebody needs to buy a copy of  Excel for Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler.

A state audit released late last week shows that Troxler’s department cost schools $2 million and put public safety at risk by failing to fine companies that improperly store and transport propane gas. Many of the violators were repeat offenders.

Here is part of the department’s written response as reported in the News & Observer.

…. state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said it started setting up a database in October 2009 to track violations and to set up a penalty system, but that work was harder than expected.

Setting up the database was too hard? The folks in the auditor’s office didn’t seem to have any trouble.

Auditors took a few weeks to develop a spreadsheet using Agriculture Department records. Said Dennis Patterson, spokesman for the state Auditor’s Office: “There was no complicated stuff.”

The real issue isn’t about a database or spreadsheet. It is the unwillingness of Republicans to support or enforce regulations, even when public safety is involved.

Top of the Morning

One of the biggest stories over the holidays was the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice not to approve the strict photo ID law passed by South Carolina.

Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina explains why the federal officials did not approve the law and what that means for the onerous voter ID legislation passed by our General Assembly if lawmakers override Governor Perdue’s veto.

 

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House Speaker Thom Tillis is at again, telling an audience at a town hall meeting in Matthews Monday that the Republican budget cut too much, as if he is powerless to do anything about it.

Tillis also said lawmakers “disproportionately” cut money for early-childhood programs. In the name of efficiency, lawmakers combined a pre-kindergarten program known as More at Four with Smart Start. Both are aimed at helping poor and at-risk students. They cut $16 million from the pre-kindergarten budget and $37.5 million from Smart Start.

Tillis said the money for students in third grade and younger is inadequate.

If Tillis really believes that, why doesn’t he fix it? The House and Senate have held several special sessions since the budget was passed and have ignored a court order to make NC Pre-K available to all at-risk four-year-olds.

They have also refused to consider a proposal by Governor to shift money to restore the cuts made this session and allow 6.300 at-risk kids to enroll in the pre-k program.

Top of the Morning

You would never know it from much of the media coverage, but it turns out that most people do not actually support repealing the Affordable Care Act. 

As usual, Steve Benen with the Washington Monthly provides some enlightening context to the latest polls about the health care law.

…while those with unfavorable attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act outnumber supporters, most Americans want the law left intact or expanded, not repealed. That’s probably not what Republicans hoped to see.