NC Budget and Tax Center

In a piece released on Monday, Paul Krugman reflected on the decision by Walmart to raise the minimum wage of its workers. He notes that this will likely lead to many more companies following suit. Indeed TJ Maxx-Marshalls has already signaled that it will do the same for its workers this year.

More than moving business to act, these private sector initiatives signal that the economic arguments—reduced turnover, higher productivity, improved morale– for raising the minimum wage standard through public policy make good sense. As Krugman points out:

What this means, in turn, is that engineering a significant pay raise for tens of millions of Americans would almost surely be much easier than conventional wisdom suggests. Raise minimum wages by a substantial amount; make it easier for workers to organize, increasing their bargaining power; direct monetary and fiscal policy toward full employment, as opposed to keeping the economy depressed out of fear that we’ll suddenly turn into Weimar Germany. It’s not a hard list to implement — and if we did these things we could make major strides back toward the kind of society most of us want to live in.

The bottom line is that the choice to keep the minimum wage standard low as a matter of policy no longer makes sense for workers or businesses. It’s time for policymakers to follow these leaders and raise the minimum wage.

News
SCOTUS Sketch

(Supreme Court sketch: Art Lien)

The U.S. Supreme Court gets a second shot at the Affordable Care Act this morning, with arguments set to start any minute in King v. Burwell.

If you were hoping to catch the arguments via live stream, well, you can’t. That’s because the nation’s highest court still does not allow cameras in the courtroom.

A number of open government organizations are taking advantage of the public interest in this case to make their case for the need of live coverage there, via the public announcement below.

In the meantime, some media outlets will be having reporters shuttling in and out of the courtroom with reports on the questioning and we’ll be posting some of those here as we see them.

scotus1

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asking about standing of challengers to sue, per Wall Street Journal live blog:

scotus2

Here’s the mid-argument update from SCOTUSblog:

Scotus4

Justices move from standing to questions about reading the statute literally — as challengers ask — and the problems with that.  More from SCOTUSblog:

scotus5

From Election Law Blog’s Rick Hasen:

Hasen2

Here’s what Justice Anthony Kennedy was asking, per SCOTUSblog update:

scotus6

Questioning going overtime:

scotus7

Plenty of questioning on the merits means likely no ruling based upon lack of standing, says SCOTUSblog:

scotus9

Justice Kennedy pushed government lawyer Michael Carvin, asking if “pressuring” states into creating their own exchanges is problematic. His response, per WSJ:

scotus10

Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor jump in, per WSJ:

scotus11

 

scotus12

Questioning of the Solicitor General, arguing in favor of the reading that subsidies were availalbe under either exchange, wasn’t much easier. Per SCOTUSblog:

scotus13

Arguments have ended.  Here’s a few post-game predictions from legal experts and court watchers:

scotus14

 ***************

scotus15

***************

scotus16

***************

scotus17

***************

scotus18

###

News

Senate Bill 2 – Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies – will be before the House Judiciary Committee later this afternoon. The legislation would allow North Carolina magistrates to opt out of gay marriages, if they hold a ‘sincere religious’ objection.

Editorial writers have called the legislation “a silly maneuver” that allows sworn public officials to sidestep their duty.

Rep. Susan Fisher, who appeared on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon last weekend, said lawmakers should legitimately be concerned about how this bill could be expanded:

“If you look at this in terms of discriminatory behavior, it opens the door wide for any kind of discrimination you’d want to throw in there,” explained the Buncombe County representative. “It’s wrong on many, many levels, but it does seem to be just another attempt at an end run around a Supreme Court decision that is so important to the lives of so many people in our state.”

Click below to hear Rep. Fisher in her own words. Senate Bill 2 will be considered by the House Judiciary I committee at 12:30pm in Room 415 of the Legislative Office Building.

YouTube Preview Image
Commentary

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser. In background is the Old Well.In case you missed it, be sure to check out the thoughtful essay written for the group Higher Education Works by former UNC chancellor James Moeser yesterday.

In it, Moeser laments the morale-busting policies of the current state political leadership:

“My point here is not to re-litigate the closing of the Poverty Center at UNC Chapel Hill, the Center for Biodiversity at East Carolina University, or the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at N.C. Central University; or the abrupt dismissal without explanation of President Tom Ross.  Rather, it is to focus on the collateral damage to the university from these actions and from statements from people in high places that suggest a lack of support for academic freedom, a lack of understanding of the real purpose of a public university.”

In holding up a recent letter to Raleigh’s News & Observer by Professor Joseph Ferrell, Moeser also says this:

“Joe Ferrell speaks of the ‘right of inquiry that lies at the very foundation of the university.’  That is the right to speak truth to power, to question the assumptions and the motives of those in power, and yes, to advocate for action and change.  It is that tradition that has made Carolina one of America’s truly great universities.  It was, indeed, the pioneering work of people like Howard Odom and Frank Porter Graham, viewing the racism and poverty of the South through the critical lens of scholarship, that allowed North Carolina to surpass all other Southern states.  It was the courage to do that work, often unpopular at the time, that led North Carolinians to love UNC.

Charles Kuralt famously asked the question, ‘What binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well, or the bell, or the stone walls, or the crisp October nights and the memory of dogwoods blooming. . . . No, our love for this place is based on the fact that it is, as it was meant to be, the University of the People.’

Now, I believe, it is time for the people to come to the aid of their university, so that it may continue as a place of free expression and free inquiry, with a positive climate in which great faculty and students can thrive for the benefit of all North Carolinians.”

Amen.

News

Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court will address a joint session of General Assembly this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Martin will be making the case for an additional $30 million for the state’s court system.

Hours before Martin delivers his State of the Judiciary Address, the House will take up an incentives bill that would give the McCrory administration $45 million a year to attract new employers to North Carolina.

State Commerce Sec. John Skvarla told members of the House Finance Committee Tuesday incentives are an essential tool for his department.

Still several Republicans questioned the effectiveness of incentives in bringing jobs to rural North Carolina.

Rep. Johnathan Jordan told the House Finance Committee the majority of incentives were being spent in larger urban counties, not in areas like Ashe County that he represents.

“The fact that these incentives have gone historically to the wealthy counties shows you exactly what this is, which is corporate entitlements. This is welfare for corporations.”

Rockingham County Rep. Bert Jones told the committee what was needed was a better tax climate, not more incentives for a select few businesses:

“I’m not against my governor. I ask some people on my side of the aisle, Would you be jumping up behind this is Governor Perdue were still governor?”

The NC Competes Act (House Bill 117) passed the Finance Committee 30-9 and gets its first full vote on the House floor this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

Chief Justice Martin will address the NC house and Senate at 4:00 p.m.

YouTube Preview Image