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This post is the first in a BTC series highlighting cuts made in the 2011-2013 legislative budget that contributed extremely little towards reducing the budget writers’ $2.5 billion first-year budget gap, but which will have resounding negative impacts on public structures that enable economic recovery and create opportunities for broad-based prosperity.

New research from the Carolina Institute for Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill supports the idea that strategic investments in teacher professional development – particularly investments in novice teachers – can yield significant gains in student outcomes. The study concluded that many novice teachers have the capacity for immediate improvement if their preparation, orientation, induction, and mentoring could stimulate their development as effective teachers.[i]

Unfortunately, the final budget disregards this, and other, important research on the value of teacher professional development. Rather than considering the state’s current strategies and investments in teacher professional development with an eye towards yielding better outcomes, the budget simply struck $53 million in spending on teacher development and mentoring over the biennium. Read More

Falling Behind in NC

Sources: N.C. State Demographer, July of each year; NC OSBM Post-Legislative Summary Reports; NC House Budget Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, FY2011-13 Budget Recommendations

During the Great Recession, the number of North Carolina children under the age of five increased by more than 40,000, but state spending on child development programs and services via the NC Department of Health and Human services would contract dramatically under the House’s FY11-13 budget proposal. Read More

Falling Behind in NC
State Public Health Spending v. NC Population Growth

Sources: NC OSBM, State Population Estimates for July; NC OSBM Post-Legislative Summary Reports; NC House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services FY2011-13 Budget Recommendations

State spending on public health has been actively outpaced by the growth of the North Carolina population, shifting the responsibility for providing core health services and support to counties and other local governments. Read More

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For us folks in Wilmington, the tug-o-war over construction of a functional convention center has been putting people to sleep for years while those attending events with more than a few dozen others at the current facility spend useless minutes, gas, and patience trying to park and dodge comunity college students.

We were suddenly awakened a few weeks ago when Wilmington city officials worked through a pending law suit, political fallout, and general malaise to inform us that yes, Wilmington was going to break ground on a new convention center after over a decade of discussion, pricey hired consultants, and general empty rhetoric. 

That's the good news.  The bad news is that city chose Raleigh based builder J.M. Thompson to complete the project; this the same outfit that went over budget $1,000,000 on the recently completed New Hanover County jail, charged the county thousands to rent basic equipment such as copiers and computers, and took twice as long to complete the job as scheduled.  Seems to me to be a bit boneheaded to hire an out of town builder that has a poor track record in your area, especially when a local builder was hired to help complete their last disaster.

As stated in the Wilmington Star-News, our city manager (hired after the previous manager was fired in a male ego hissyfit orchestrated by a former mayor) cited the decades of time that Thompson had been in business as an indication that they would perform well with the convention center contract.  I guess he's never been to jail, or the new jail, anyway.

Wilmington needs a space for professionals to gather, and let's just hope that this choice doesn't make the process take even longer and cost even more. It seems our town is getting a statewide reputation for bad municipal decisions, unethical elected officials, non-existent attention to infrastructure, and development influenced government.  If we're not careful, Myrtle Beach may come a lot closer than an hour away.

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The House and Senate have reached a tentative budget agreement; you can find details of the agreement, at Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, or the Capital Beat or at BlueRidgeNow.com

Local governments are the big winners in this budget which both relieves counties of their Medicaid burden and allows them to determine their own taxing structure based on what county voters decide.

Starting in January and phasing in over the next three years, the state will take over Medicaid payments in exchange for keeping half a cent sales tax that now goes to the counties. This is especially beneficial to small rural counties whose Medicaid costs are rising faster than their county revenues. A “hold harmless” clause in the agreement ensures counties won’t lose money in the deal.

Counties will have the option of raising additional revenues to meet their growing infrastructure needs by increasing their local sales tax by a quarter cent or impose a land transfer tax between .02% and .06%.

As Greg Flynn said in his comments to another blog post talking about tax options:

It is becoming clear that one size does not fit all for all NC Counties.

That’s the beauty of a local option tax. You get to decide what’s right for your county instead of trying to jerry-rig a statewide tax mechanism.

 Isn’t that the way it should be?