NC Budget and Tax Center

This piece was originally featured on Women AdvaNCe’s blog and is cross-posted here.

Working Tar Heel moms are never off the clock. From laboring at the workplace all day to tucking kids in at night, we put in a lot more than a full day’s work. Much of the work is tireless, thankless, and unpaid. But for the paid work, every dollar moms work for is hard earned. These are some of the many reasons why we celebrated moms this week.

Flowers and breakfast were great, but this Mother’s Day we needed to keep our sights on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Congress can help 750,000 moms right here in North Carolina by making permanent improvements to tax credits that put money back into the pockets of moms who’ve earned it. Without action from Congress, these credits expire at the end of 2017.

The state’s economy is experiencing a boom in low-wage work—a trend that is falling disproportionately hard on women. For more than 21 million working moms across the country, including 763,000 in North Carolina, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are important tools that help them make ends meet in today’s economy. By offsetting income and sales taxes, these credits boost income, support work, and reduce poverty—especially among children.

Allowing moms to keep more of what they earn also helps keep poverty in check. Read More

News

The N.C. House of Representatives released portions of its budget Thursday, and included several significant changes and some cuts for public higher education.

UNCsystemThe entire budget – which is expected to fill in gaps about whether raises are in store for state employees and teachers – is expected to be released Monday, and voted on by the Republican-led House that week.

Senate Republican leaders have not announced when their version of the budget will be done.

Several significant changes were trotted out by House budget writers this week for the state’s public higher education system.

The House did fund expected growth in the system but also calls for $44.3 million over the next two years in management cuts and would roll out a program that would push academically weak college students into a community college program before gaining entry into the state’s four-year universities.

Drew Moretz, the University of North Carolina system’s vice-president for government affairs, said the House calls for fewer cuts than what Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposed.

“It’s a better starting point than what the governor had given us,” Moretz said.

The system as a whole has had $658 million in management cuts since 2008-09, he said.

The House budget would also, for the first time, allow low-income students to get scholarships to virtually attend Western Governors University, an online education program that’s been touted as a low-cost education option by groups like the conservative John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

House lawmakers also want to delay more than 1,000 prospective students from attending the state’s public universities by requiring the UNC system to defer admissions to students who meet admissions standards but don’t have strong academic histories

Read More

Commentary, News

1. Five things you need to know about the new state revenue “surplus”

Despite the “April surprise,” NC’s fiscal fundamentals remain grim There’s been a great deal of back and forth inside the Raleigh beltline in recent days about the state revenue surplus that state leaders announced last week. To the hardliners on the Right, the fact that state revenues for the current fiscal year [Continue Reading…]

2. The Final Class of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows

Tacey Miller’s dream of becoming a North Carolina Teaching Fellow took hold early in her high school career, when her best friend, who was two years older than Miller, got into to the program. “I was there when she got her acceptance letter, and I got see how the program worked through her,” said Miller, [Continue Reading…]

3. A muddled start to the state budget dance

House leaders began unveiling pieces of their state budget proposal Thursday and as always it was a mixed bag. The budget finally provides more money for textbooks in public schools for example, while at the same time increasing funding for the completely unaccountable school voucher scheme that may be declared unconstitutional by the [Continue Reading…]

4. Emails between Tom Ross, UNC Board of Governors show concern about Ross’ dismissal

Several members of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors contacted UNC President Tom Ross in the days after he was pushed to resign, relaying their sorrow about what happened, according to emails recently obtained by N.C. Policy Watch. “I have enjoyed getting to know you and consider you to be a [Continue Reading…]

5.Unraveling the coal ash litigation matrix

Editor’s note: Duke Energy entered a guilty plea Thursday, May 14th to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with coal ash contamination at several of its plants here, agreeing to pay a record $102 million dollar fine. A copy of the plea agreement can be found here. If all goes [Continue Reading…]

*** Bonus video: EPA: Duke’s $102 million penalty should serve as a warning to others that “cut corners”

News

Federal prosecutors says Duke Energy’s guilty plea and agreement to pay a record $102 million fine for seepage from its coal ash ponds should ‘speak loudly’ to other corporations that fail to protect the environment.

EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles told reporters while the agreement requires Duke to comply with the law, they are no longer willing to take Duke’s word for it that the clean-up is being done in a timely and satisfactory manner:

“An independent, third party monitor appointed by the court is going to audit their operation nationwide, not just in North Carolina, to make sure they are meeting their responsibilities,” explained Giles. “Those reports are going to be made public so Duke is held publicly accountable. We are sending a clear message to managers and businesses across the country take your responsibility to protect communities seriously.”

Duke will also be required to set aside $3.4 billion, a guarantee that it has the money necessary to address the seepage problems as it works to close 32 ash ponds across North Carolina.

Prosecutors noted Thursday that Duke Energy executives brought much of this trouble on themselves, failing to approve $20,000 for a robotic camera to inspect an aged stormwater pipe that failed in February 2014 dumping 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

To hear more from the EPA’s administrator for enforcement, click below. To read the plea agreement, click here.

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News

Image of DENR commemorative coin

Duke Energy entered a guilty plea yesterday to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with coal ash contamination at several of its plants here, but the federal investigation may not be over, according to this report in the Charlotte Business Journal.

U.S. Attorneys involved in the investigation would not confirm whether the investigation is ongoing, but they did admit that no further charges would be lodged against Duke Energy.

As reported in the Journal:

John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Environmental Crimes Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, confirmed after court Thursday that Duke faces no further criminal charges. But he would not say the investigation is closed. Asked if he knew whether there could be any additional investigation, he said, “Yes, I do know, but I cannot tell you.”

Duke Energy’s attorney Jim Cooney pointed to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resource as a likely target.

“The government is still investigating the DENR side of the house,” Cooney told the Journal. “We have agreed to provide documents and to cooperate with that investigation.”

And DENR did not deny that the investigation is continuing.

“We continue to fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office and our focus remains protecting the environment and holding Duke Energy accountable for its environmental violations,” the agency said in a statement yesterday.

Lax enforcement of environmental rules and regulations against Duke Energy in recent years is one of the areas the Justice Department intended to explore when it issued grand jury subpoenas last year.

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