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The House budget includes a requirement that the position of Medicaid Director be subject to confirmation by the North Carolina General Assembly. Here’s some of the language:

4         APPOINTMENT AND CONFIRMATION OF MEDICAID DIRECTOR
5         SECTION 12H.36.(a) Effective July 1, 2014, and applying to Directors of the
6         Division of Medical Services appointed on or after that date, G.S. 108A-54 is amended by
7         adding a new subsection to read:
8         “§ 108A-54. Authorization of Medical Assistance Program; administration.
9         …
10       (e) The Medicaid Program shall be managed by the Director of the Division of Medical
11       Assistance (Medicaid Director), who shall be recommended by the Secretary of Health and
12       Human Services and appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General
13       Assembly by joint resolution. [...]

This provision should raise many questions and concerns. The legislature does not have appointment authority over any other position that is so central to carrying out the policy agenda of the Governor. If, for example, the legislature is bent on limiting access to Medicaid while the Governor wants to streamline enrollment, then the conflict will likely shut down any ability to get a Medicaid Director in place.

And while there is a clear process to appoint a Director if the Governor does not forward a nomination, the budget does not spell out what happens if the legislature refuses every nominee from the Governor. What would most likely occur is that the Governor would have to wait until the legislature is out of session and then appoint a temporary Medicaid Director.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s because this is how the process works in Washington, DC, where politics clouds every decision and ties up the basic functions of government. Instead of fostering bi-partisanship and stability, Congress has caused major disruptions in the running of Medicare and Medicaid by refusing to approve presidential nominees.

The same is likely to happen in Raleigh.

The Governor, who is elected statewide, should be able to appoint his or her preferred Medicaid Director to carry out the policies that he or she was elected to enact. If this confirmation requirement survives negotiations between the House and the Senate then leadership elected in select pockets of the state will have veto power over how the Governor runs one of the most important agencies of the executive branch.

NC Budget and Tax Center

On Monday evening, US House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement on a detailed $1.012 trillion budget deal that would fund the federal government through the end of September. The House approved the measure yesterday, with the Senate expected to pass the measure later this week. If enacted, the measure would end the looming threat of another government shutdown and roll back the harmful across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take place over the next year.

The measure fills in the details of a bipartisan agreement struck last month that, as my colleague wrote at the time, represents a “missed opportunity” because it fails to replace the across-the-board spending cuts in the out years and fails to include any new tax revenue. Read More

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Lunch links 3Here are five fast ones to get you, respectively: fired up, better informed, a little surprised, updated on an important anniversary and just plain sickened –

#1 -Scholars from colleges and universities around the state delivered a strong-worded letter this morning to Gov. McCrory and his state Budget Director, Art Pope, denouncing the harassment of Prof. Gene Nichol of the UNC School of Law by a group funded overwhelmingly by Pope. Sue Sturgis has the story at Facing South.

#2 – Flawed as it is, the pluses outweigh the minuses in the congressional budget deal — or so say the experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

#3 – ICYMI, Public Policy Polling had the latest last Thursday with respect to the the attitudes of North Carolinians on Gov. McCrory’s popularity, the 2016 presidential horse race and several other issues.

#4 – John Schmitt has an excellent post on the Center for Economic Policy Research blog summarizing a new report (that he co-authored) about the impact of the Family Medical Leave Act after 20 years on the books. It’s called “Job Protection Isn’t Enough: Why America Needs Paid Parental Leave.”

#5 And finally, the website takepart.com tells us that North Carolina is among the ten states nationally with the fastest growing populations of homeless students. Click here to read and weep about how ours rose an obscene 32% between 2009 and 2012.

NC Budget and Tax Center
Greensboro presser

Allan Freyer at Greensboro event

As details continued to emerge throughout the day about a possible short-term Federal budget deal for 2014 and 2015, it became increasingly clear that the deal represents a missed opportunity for a long-term resolution to our nations’ budget challenges and a bad deal for America’s workers. Although completing any deal is a step in the right direction after two years of partisan gridlock and the recent government shutdown, this deal just doesn’t go far enough—it fails to replace a majority of the sequestration spending cuts and does not include any new tax revenue. As a result, this mini deal represents a big missed opportunity.

This was the message sent by a crowd of workers, families, and advocates that gathered in Greensboro this morning for an event calling on their federal elected representatives to finish the job and replace sequestration in its entirety with new revenues raised by closing corporate tax loopholes. Across-the-board sequestration spending cuts are harming North Carolina, advocates said, and without new revenue, North Carolinians will continue to be hit hard by spending cuts to core initiatives like education, job training, and healthcare.

“This emerging deal represents a missed opportunity. Congress has one last opportunity to prevent damaging cuts to investments that help struggling families and a struggling economy,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “We are calling on North Carolina’s federal lawmakers to do the right thing and support closing corporate tax loopholes so that we can make the investments needed to support North Carolina families and end gridlock on the federal budget.”

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NC Budget and Tax Center

When Thanksgiving rolls around, no one wants to watch someone else eat all the turkey and then have to pick up the grocery bill all by themselves. But that’s what’s happening in our nation’s budget debate—highly profitable multinational corporations are using special tax loopholes, credits, deductions, and outright giveaways to avoid paying their fair share of taxes while asking the rest of us to pick up the tab for fixing our nation’s budget challenges through spending cuts to key investments that help grow the economy. Even worse, at a time when many families will be celebrating their Thanksgiving blessings or sharing those blessings with less fortunate friends and neighbors, many in Congress are trying to protect these tax loopholes while simultaneously cutting federal food assistance for hungry families.

That’s why N.C. Policy Watch and the N.C. Budget and Tax Center are continuing to shine a light on corporate tax dodging. In recent years, corporate profits have neared record highs while corporate tax collections are at a 30-year low, so now is the time to raise new revenues, rather than asking hungry families to bear the brunt of addressing our nation’s budget challenges. And an excellent source of new revenues involves the billions of dollars in corporate tax loopholes, deductions, credits, and outright giveaways that allow too many multinational corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. So instead of giving all the turkey to profitable corporations and asking the rest of us to foot the bill, let’s ask these profitable companies to pay their fair share for Thanksgiving dinner.

To underscore this message, N.C. Policy Watch and the N.C. Budget and Tax Center are continuing to profile a number of corporate tax avoiders with strong connections to North Carolina (Click here to read previous profiles of Duke Energy, Merck & Co. and International Paper).

And keeping with the holiday theme of food, this month, we’re focusing on the highly profitable fast food giant Yum! Brands, revealing the following:

  1. the size and scope of their businesses,
  2. the taxes they have avoided paying in recent years, and
  3. the methods they use to accomplish this.

Read More