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LegislatureAnother day on Jones Street, another day of rolling back the 20th Century. Here are just some of the regressive proposals on tap for today along with the names they ought ot be known by:

The Predatory Lending Protection and Expansion Act — The Senate will vote on this proposal to jack up interest rates and fees on consumer finance loans at a time of record low interest rates.

The Erosion of NC’s Commitment to Public Education Act — The Senate will also take up this proposal to create a separate authority to (sort of) oversee charter schools. The new conservative head of the State Board of Education called the proposal unconstitutional this morning. Read More

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Student PowerWith chants of “student power!” and “hey, hey, ho, ho, Art Pope has got to go!” 250+ college students and supporters descended on Raleigh this afternoon for a May Day demonstration against the right-wing takeover of North Carolina state government. 

Backed by drums and megaphones and sporting banners and signs decrying cuts to education and other regressive policies, the students followed a cordial police escort in a circuitous march around downtown that featured stops at the Pope-Civitas Institute offices (pictured at left), Moore Square Park, the U.S. Post Office, Raleigh City Hall and the General Assembly.     

At last check, the event was slated to wrap up with a series of talks by progressive leaders on Halifax Mall behind the General Assembly. It is scheduled to conclude at 8:00 p.m.

In a somewhat amusing side note, the Pope-Civitas Institute distributed a fundraising email just hours afte the protesters visited their offices featuring pictures of some of the young people. No word yet on whether that email was sent directly to State Budget Director Pope, who has long provided the vast majority of the organization’s funding.

NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina lawmakers are barking up the wrong tree when they claim that corporate tax cuts, such as those proposed in the state Senate, will spur job creation and economic growth. In reality, those tax cuts will do more harm than good, in both the short- and long-term.

Every dollar that Senate Bill 677 would give away in a tax cut has to be made up for with a tax increase on another business or individual or with cuts to schools, health care and other vital services that provide a strong foundation for our economy.

This tax plan would cost the state $344 million once the tax cuts were fully phased in, according to the Legislature’s Fiscal Research Division. Read More

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As Chris Fitzsimon noted with some biting and on-the-money humor last week, conservative state political leaders appear to have reached the point in the 2013 legislative session at which they have “jumped the shark.” For those who may not have caught the cultural reference, the phrase derives from a late-20th Century TV sitcom called “Happy Days”; the show was widely seen to have reached its nadir during an episode in which one of the main characters jumped over a shark while water skiing.

For conservatives, it’s hard to point out just one shark-jumping moment in their script, but as Chris notes, the bill to excuse the state from the First Amendment’s establishment clause seems like a strong contender.

Rob Christensen of Raleigh’s News & Observer wrote a rather curious column over the weekend in which he alleged that GOP leaders had basically gotten all the shark-jumping ideas under control, but judging by the agenda for the coming week Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The safety and quality of life of communities across the North Carolina rely in part on investments in our judicial and public safety systems. Significant funding cuts to the Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget in recent years have challenged various JPS agencies to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources. Since FY2009, net appropriations for the JPS budget have been cut by more than $218 million.

In recent years, cuts in funding to the JPS budget have also resulted in increases in court costs and fees. However, the Fiscal Research Division reports that court costs collections are down about 10 percent. The legislature closed four minimum custody programs in order to reduce costs in 2011. Furthermore, state funding has been completely cut for some divisions within JPS, which are now mandated to operate as fully-receipt funded operations. Read More