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Right-wingThere are a lot of bad explanations that have been advanced to justify various acts of the state’s conservative political leadership in recent years.

There’s been the “it’s all Bev’s Fault” excuse in which every problem in (and experienced by) state government — including the Great Recession and its aftermath — is attributed to former Governor Bev Perdue. One can also substitute President Obama here as well, except of course, when one is discussing the national economic recovery (all the good parts of which are, naturally, attributable to conservatives and/or fracking).

Then there’s “the Democrats did it too” excuse. As was explained here, this is most typically used to justify lack of transparency or process, but it can also work to justify gerrymandering, education cuts and a slew of other promise-breaking transgressions. Naturally, previous conservative promises to change the way things are done in Raleigh cannot be mentioned when using this explanation.

And, of course, who could forget the “things are just fantastic now here in the Old North State” explanation. This is invariably trotted out when the latest unemployment report reveals another bump in the rate or new data emerge on the state’s yawning and growing gap between haves and have nots.

Lately, however, there’s been a new contender and it’s been used regularly by lawmakers and right-wing think tankers to justify the last minute, out-of-thin-air  emergence of completely new legislative proposals several months into the legislative session and long after the supposed deadline for the introduction of new bills. This is the “that issue has been discussed for a long time” excuse. You know how this goes:

Reporter: What do you say, Senator (or conservative commentator) to those who argue it’s simply wrong and an evasion of the rules to introduce a series of immensely important constitutional amendments (or a 50 page bill to wreck state environmental laws) weeks after the session was supposed to have ended and months after the supposed bill introduction deadline?

Lawmaker (or commentator): Well, now, you know that issue has been out there for a long time and been discussed in lots of venues. I think everyone knows what the debate is all about and you can rest assured it will get a full going over.

To which all a body can say in response is, “is that so?” By such logic, government doesn’t really need any rules or process at all.

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NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina officials will soon have spent all available financial incentives the state offers to businesses that are considering locating or expanding in the state. Each year the state awards millions of dollars in subsidies to businesses through its Jobs Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program.

The state is now one project announcement away from spending all of the $22.5 million in funding allocated to JDIG for the current year, accordingly to state Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. Governor McCrory is being urged by proponents to call a special legislative session before January 2015 to increase funding for the JDIG program. Yet, this is coming at a time when state revenue collections are $62 million below projections for the first quarter of the current fiscal year as the cost of the tax plan passed last year continues to increase. The reality is that absent additional revenue, increasing funding for the JDIG program means cuts in other areas of the state budget to pay for the additional spending.

Secretary Decker states that “Tax reform has helped us because we are no longer the highest in the Southeast, and that is great” and goes on to assert “But, we will not be competitive for those jobs without JDIG.” Yet, it is tax reform that was supposed to spur job creation and boost the economy, but is nevertheless hindering our ability to invest in JDIG and core public services that are stronger determinants of sustainable job creation and economic growth. State revenue collections are $62 million below projections for the first quarter of the current fiscal year and as we have written elsewhere, the cost of the tax plan for the current fiscal year could be more than $1 billion. The tax plan passed last year, sold as a job-creation package, reduced the state’s personal and corporate income tax rates to largely benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations. Still, more corporate subsidies are being asked for in the name of job creation.

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Commentary

The Alliance for a Just Society along with Action NC released a report today titled “The Promise of Quality, Affordable Health Care for Women: Is North Carolina Delivering?” The answer, in a word, is no.

Overall the report gives our state a C- on women’s health when looking at a range of measures from health outcomes to access. Most abysmal is the state’s ranking on health insurance coverage. There we merited a D-. The uninsured rate among non-elderly women in NC is nearly 17 percent. There are also tremendous racial disparities in uninsured rates. Nearly 19 percent of black women are uninsured in the state, according to the report, and almost 39 percent of Latinas are uninsured. Our state ranks 50 out of 50 for uninsured rate among Latinas.

The grades don’t climb much higher from there. On women’s access to health services we earned a mediocre C and on health outcomes we get a C-. This is a report card we might want to hide in the couch cushions.

But there’s good news that could boost our lackluster scores. As the report recommends, expanding Medicaid would put a major dent in our uninsured rate, help close the health disparity gap, and improve outcomes.

NC lawmakers once famously claimed that Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with women’s health. This report card, and hundreds of thousands of women across the state, beg to differ.

Uncategorized

Phil BergerWhat’s this? Did I read that right?

Yes here it is, dated  Monday, July 14: “Berger: Budget delay is incompetence”

And here’s Senator Berger’s lead quote:

“For the average person, when they have a deadline and they need to get something done, they are held accountable,” said Berger, an Eden Republican, at the weekly Republican news conference.

What the heck is going on? Has North Carolina’s Senate President Pro Tem had some kind of  revelation? Did he meet with a therapist or member of the clergy and decide to bare his soul? I mean, what could have possibly spurred such a powerful admission/confession?

Wait a minute. Oh, now I see; the article is dated Monday July 14, 2009. Berger was talking about the Democrats  — you know, the folks who were desperately trying to wend their way through the fallout from the worst economic crisis in 75 years.

Obviously, Berger wouldn’t use such language to describe the current situation — you know, the one in which state leaders are calling each other insulting names and just generally acting like children as they work diligently not to solve myriad problems – most notably an unnecessary budget shortfall – of their own creation.

Glad that’s cleared up.

Uncategorized

Among the bills filed at the state legislature today was a resolution that would put North Carolina on a small list of states seeking to reconvene the Constitutional Convention of the States.

Yes, that Constitutional Convention. The last time they met was back in 1787.

The North Carolina resolution (click here to read) is part of a recent cause among far-right conservatives to seek financial limits on the federal government.

The North Carolina resolution makes no bones about the lawmakers’ disregard for Washington, finding that “the federal government has ceased to exist under a proper interpretation of the Constitutional of the United States.”

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