Commentary

This morning’s North Carolina news media “must read” comes from Greensboro News & Record  columnist Susan Ladd. In her column, Ladd explains exactly why the latest manufactured smear campaign against Planned Parenthood is just that:

“Because of its nationwide network of providers, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion services in the country, but abortions amount to only 3 percent of the health services this group provides.

The most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood were videos purporting to show the group’s ‘procuring baby parts for profit.’

The Center for Medical Progress, which shot these heavily edited undercover videos, is not a medical organization but a political one, founded to create inflammatory ‘sting’ videos of Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden, the project leader for the videos has a history of creating deceptively edited videos. One of CMP’s board members is Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who in 2003, called the murder of an abortion doctor “a justifiable defensive action.”

Abortion rights groups and some U.S. senators are asking that CMP be investigated for false representation and misleading the IRS when it applied for tax-exempt status….

But the smear campaign hasn’t abated. CMP continues to release more of its videos, and politicians continue to site them over and over in trying to sway opinion and public policy.

I’m sad to say that some of our local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-Guilford) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are among them.

Unfortunately, a lie repeated often enough still will persuade some of the people — especially those who want to believe it. And the truth, determined over time by impartial investigations, never has the shock value or leaves quite as much of an impression as those sensational videos.”

Fortunately, the lies aren’t achieving their intended objective -harming Planned Parenthood. As Ladd notes:

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Commentary, News

$750.

That’s the pay increase state workers and most teachers can expect this fiscal year. Budget negotiators ended the suspense Wednesday in announcing the one-time bonuses. (Starting teachers can expect to earn $35,000 annually.)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson now wants lawmakers to finish the rest of the budget so public school districts know how much money they will have for personnel, textbooks and digital resources.

“This is a big year of faith…faith that the General Assembly will come through with adequate resources,” said Atkinson.

“Most of the schools are moving forward as if they have a budget. They have no other option since we have nearly 1.6 million children in our schools and we have about 17,000 new students to join North Carolina’s public school records.”

Dr. Atkinson joins Chris Fitzsimon on News & Views this weekend to talk about the impact of the latest budget delay, the need for continued investments in professional development, and the challenges of teacher recruitment and retention.

On Thursday the NC House and Senate passed a third continuing resolution, giving themselves until September 18th to work out spending priorities in the $21.74 billion state budget.

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Commentary

Scott Lemieux of The Guardian has written a fine article about yesterday’s horrific murder-suicide tragedy in Virgina that’s worth your time. Here’s one of the best parts:

“It is true – as apologists for the status quo will be sure to point out – that it is impossible to know whether today’s murder specifically could have been prevented by a more stringent gun control regime, let alone by one characterized exclusively by background checks. But on a more systematic level, the result of our lack of substantive, internationally comparable gun control is entirely clear: the US is not only an international outlier in its lack of gun control, it is also a massive outlier in terms of firearm violence. The ease of access to firearms clearly causes large numbers of unnecessary deaths by homicide, suicide, and accident.

Thus, the staggering human toll of gun violence in the US is not just a random coincidence; it is the result of political choices.

Which policies could reduce the huge number of mass killings in the US are not a mystery: after 35 people were killed in Tasmania in 1996, Australia’s conservative government enacted sweeping gun control measures. The result was that both homicides and suicides by gun were immediately and sharply reduced, and there have been no mass killings in the country since. Conversely, there have been 885 mass killings in the United States since December 2012, when a gunman killed 20 elementary school students at the Newtown Elementary School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.”

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein has more on Vox about some of the lessons we might glean from the Australian experience.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Legislators approved a third budget extension today as the House and Senate leadership continue efforts to iron out a final budget deal. The existing temporary budget, known officially as a Continuing Resolution, is set to expire on Monday. If signed by the Governor, the newest extension will keep public programs and services operating through September 18th, which is 79 days after the original budget deadline of July 1st.

The third budget extension will keep state government operating exactly as the second stop-gap measure approved earlier this month. I outlined those details in a previous blog post.

Leadership in the House and Senate chambers already agreed to a topline spending target of $21.735 billion for the 2016 fiscal year that runs through June 30, 2016. That means state investments as a part of the economy would remain below the 45—year average, impeding the ability to restore previous cuts and make progress in a significant way. Read More

Commentary

A one-time, $750 “bonus.” That’s what most North Carolina state employees will get as a “pay increase” as a result of the new budget deal at the General Assembly. That’s about $10 per week after taxes.

Not much, we know, but if the state Senate has its way, such a “raise” may soon seem downright extravagant. That’s because the new constitutional amendments the Senate has proposed to place on the state ballot next year would actually make such a “raise” all but impossible.

As this morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer explains thoroughly, the so-called “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” or “TABOR” would all but end state government’s ability to address the needs of the citizenry — much less provide meaningful raises to public employees. Indeed, even with this year’s pathetic pay bonus, spending will actually exceed the limits that TABOR would put permanently in place.

As the N&O editorial  puts it:

“It’s absolutely astonishing that despite the failure of TABOR in Colorado, stubborn state Senate Republicans have pushed on with it, almost defiantly ignoring common sense and the business community. Why have many other states considered it and then reconsidered it? Because, after that first flush of thinking it’s a great conservative idea and run-on issue, cooler heads realize it hasn’t worked.”

Let’s hope the cooler heads emerge and take charge here in North Carolina very soon.