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ICYMI, the lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer is a good one. It explains — much as NC Policy Watch Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey did in this story yesterday — why the claims of legislative leaders of that “legislative immunity” somehow insulates them from disclosing the real reasons behind the voter suppression bill passed last session are completely bogus. After exploring the recent hubbub surrounding the bizarre comments of Senator Bill Rabon in the puppy mill controversy, the editorial puts it this way:

“The legislators say they are protected by ‘legislative immunity,’ which they claim not only shields them from ‘arrest or civil process for what they do in legislative proceedings,’ but also having to reveal the conversations they had during the crafting of that legislation.

Are they right? Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

This month, taxpayers receiving their paychecks are seeing changes in their take-home pay.  Some will see more, some less since the tax plan passed last year delivers income tax cuts depending on individual taxpayer circumstances.

The benefits from the new tax law will accrue primarily to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. In total, the tax plan passed last year reduces revenue by nearly $525 million over the next two years. The foregone investments for our communities that will result from these tax cuts will impact us all.

Consider what could have been done to improve the classroom experience of our students in K-12 public schools if policymakers hadn’t chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations. These dollars could have been used to provide a package of investments in public education such as:

  • Keeping 1 in 5 teacher assistant jobs in FY15
  • Doubling current funding for textbooks in FY15 Read More
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The following four charts demonstrate why NC Medicaid, far from being “broken” or worthy as a scapegoat for every unpopular budget decision made by the NC General Assembly, is containing costs better than any Medicaid program in the country while helping create better health for North Carolinians.  The letter reproduced after the charts shows how disingenuous the “Medicaid is over budget” claim is by Governor McCrory and legislators.

1.  NC Medicaid cost growth is very low.  Just plotting some simple data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the average annual growth in NC’s Medicaid program has declined for the last twenty years and the program is now growing more slowly than the national average.  Current annual cost growth for Medicaid in NC is actually the lowest in the nation and much lower than the national average:

medicaid growth chart

Read More

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Governor Pat McCrory today will reject billions of federal dollars from Obamacare to cover 500,000 more poor people under NC’s Medicaid program.  McCrory says the main reason is that NC Medicaid is “broken.”  But that’s just a talking point borrowed from Governors in states like Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina.  McCrory should be proud of NC Medicaid, our Community Care program – it’s award-winning and seen as a national model and national leader:

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Though it’s not so clear to me that the GOP could have simply walked away and stayed away as they threatened to do (and as the editorial accepts as a given) a piece in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal has a generally accurate take on some key outcomes of the recently adjourned General Assembly:

“This supplemental budget will mean further cuts to our public schools, the schools that educate the vast majority of North Carolina children. The legislature did not add back enough state money to offset lost federal stimulus money that had been paying thousands of teachers.

Class sizes will grow. There will be fewer course offerings. Teachers will be laid off.

But, had the veto been sustained, Read More