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Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Sometimes, one has to admit that the forces of the universe are possessed of a wicked sense of humor. Witness this story in today’s Washington Post and the new study on which it is based. According to both, preregistering teens to vote so that they become eligible upon turning 18 does in fact increase participation and turnout — exactly what advocates for the practice have been saying for years.

Here, however, is the LOL kicker from the Post story:

“You might think that anything that increases the turnout of young people would inevitably benefit Democrats, since young people lean toward the Democratic Party.  But that is not what Holbein and Hillygus found.  Although preregistration tended to add more Democrats than Republicans to the rolls — simply because more young people registered as Democrats — it actually reduced the Democratic advantage among those young people who actually voted.”

You got that, Senator Rucho? By repealing teen preregistration as they did in the Monster Voting Law of 2013, North Carolina Republicans quite likely hurt themselves.

As you will recall, when pressed for an explanation for the move to repeal teen preregistration, Rucho, the Senate architect of the proposal said that the old law had been “very confusing” to his high school-aged son. And while this explanation was widely dismissed at the time as a rather transparent bit of excuse making, the new study seems to confirm that maybe Rucho was being straight. After all, by all indications, failing to understand how voting and voting laws law really work is something that runs in the Rucho family.

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Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

As Clayton Henkel and Lindsay Wagner report in the posts below, negotiations over teacher pay have taken what appears to be a positive turn this week at the General Assembly with the announcement that the state Senate is willing to back down on its demand that teachers choose between a pay raise and their right to a measure of due process when it comes losing their jobs.

It’s welcome news, but news that is tempered by the fact that Senators apparently kept their fingers crossed behind their backs while they made the offer. Senate Education Committee chairman Jerry Tillman also told reporters Lynn Bonner and Jim Morrill that the matter of teacher due process (i.e. “tenure”) would be back:

“’We’ll get rid of tenure in 2018,’ he said. ‘That issue will be settled.’”

Perhaps even more frustrating than Tillman’s statement in the aftermath of yesterday’s negotiations, however, were the comments of his Senate colleague and fellow conservative fire-breather, Bob Rucho.

When asked about the Senate’s consistent refusal to budge on its plan to pay for teacher raises by firing thousands of teacher assistants (a plan that even Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger hinted might finally be on the way out) Rucho was his usual  aggressive self. As Morrill and Bonner reported: Read More

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State lawmakers haven’t decided if the N.C. Education Lottery will be able to double the number of ads it runs and then use proceeds from increased sales to pay for teacher raises.

The House and Senate sides of the Republican-led legislature have stark differences in this year’s budget, and one of the biggest areas of difference is how to pay teachers and with what money.Lottery

House lawmakers want to double the advertising budget for the state-run lottery, in hopes it would turn out $106 million extra dollars to use for teacher raises. The budget proposal also includes several restrictions on advertising– including disclosing the odds of winning a top prize and a ban on advertising during collegiate athletic events.

(In case you missed, N.C. Policy Watch published an analysis of 2013 lottery data yesterday that found that all 10 of the counties with highest per capita sales all had high rates of poverty. Click here to read the article.)

The Senate proposed a much different teacher salary plan that required teachers to give up tenure in exchange for raises paid for with cuts to other education programs and the state Medicaid program.

Senate members heard from the N.C. Education Lottery director Alice Garland, who said the proposed restrictions put in place by state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, a longtime critic of the lottery, was an attempt to get rid of the lottery.

“The author of this language wants to see the lottery fail and wants to put the lottery out of business,” Garland said. “That is why those restrictions were put in the House budget.”

Read More

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A new Greensboro News & Record editorial takes state Senator Bob Rucho to task for his tweet/rant of the other day and his subsequent ineffective effort to defend it. You really should check out the entire editorial, but here’s a brief sample:

“Rucho’s rant can’t disguise his incredible lack of historical perspective. World War II cost this country $4.1 trillion in 2011 dollars, the Congressional Research Service calculated then.

That was just to fight and win the war. It did not count the costs of rebuilding Europe and much of East Asia and the Western Pacific or, as noted in the $5 billion-a-year figure above, the continuing cost of veterans benefits.

The human costs of losing more than 400,000 military personnel aren’t included, either. Read More

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Bob RuchoSenator Bob Rucho is far from the first person to make the boneheaded mistake of comparing something in modern American politics to Nazi Germany; lots of people have made the same ridiculous error. That said, it is interesting to compare and contrast the responses that such comments can provoke.

Four months ago when UNC-TV host D.G. Martin — a Democrat — made an ill-considered allusion/comparison to Nazi Germany in one of his syndicated columns, Claude Pope, the head on the North Carolina Republican Party, called Martin derogatory names and demanded he be ousted from his TV job. Now mind you, this was despite the fact Martin immediately apologized for having made the comparison and does not hold a position of political or government leadership.

Compare this to the Rucho flap — a situation in which the senator (one of the most powerful elected officials in North Carolina) has refused to apologize and, indeed, has doubled-down on the comment by claiming critics are members of “socialist elites.”  This time, all Pope has done is call for an apology.

Perhaps Pope has a plan to help promote a primary opponent against Rucho in 2014 — rumors have it that this may be the case — but if he really believes that such offensive comparisons ought to be grounds for removal from office, he ought to say so publicly and today.