NC Budget and Tax Center

As local school boards begin to plan K-12 budgets for the coming school year, they continue to feel the squeeze from a still-fragile economy and continued cuts in state support for public education. Since FY2009, state support for K-12 education has been cut by more than $1.3 billion and Governor McCrory’s proposed budget for FY2014 continues this trend with $85 million in cuts to K-12 education.

The budgeting environment will likely be even more challenging for the upcoming school year with the expiration of one-time federal funding. North Carolina received $297 million in federal dollars for K-12 education (“Ed Jobs” funding) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress in 2010. All local school systems received Ed Jobs funding, which was used to retain existing employees, recall or rehire former employees and to hire new employees. Local school systems were required to spend all Ed Jobs funds by October 2012 and no additional funding will be available for the upcoming school year. Read More


pinocchio statuteIn announcing his plan to privatize North Carolina’s award-winning Medicaid program, Community Care of NC, Governor Pat McCrory laid out five key reasons that in his view privatization is necessary.  The only problem?  None of them hold up under the even the most cursory scrutiny.  I’ll thoroughly debunk each in turn:

McCrory’s #1 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] does not focus on measuring and improving overall health outcomes for recipients”

Community Care is proven to provide much better access to health care services that results in measurable improvements in health shown through changes in health service use.

For example, an exhaustive study last year of how children and others on NC Medicaid are using health services found that children with asthma enrolled in Community Care spent much less time admitted to the hospital and in the emergency room than children not enrolled.  At the same time these children with asthma spent more time in their family doctor’s office and getting medication to manage their condition.  This is the very definition of a better health outcome.

And Community Care doesn’t stop there.  CCNC has a detailed process for measuring quality of care delivered by providers statewide and encouraging better quality– the “Quality Measurement and Feedback” program.

McCrory’s #2 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] lacks a culture of customer service and operates in silos, making it difficult for recipients to know where to go to receive the right care”

Governor McCrory might want to take a look at the actual Medicaid card sent to people on Medicaid when they sign up.   It includes the name, address and phone number of the Medicaid recipient’s family doctor or health practice printed right on the card.  You don’t get much easier direction as to who to call first when you get sick than that.

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McCrory11092012Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” And right now, it appears that one of ol’ Tip’s leading disciples is Governor Pat McCrory. How else to explain the Guv’s repeated decisions to ignore national trends and double-down on far right policies that seem sure to alienate important constituencies to which his own party is trying to build bridges?

Last month, McCrory was doing his best to thumb his nose at the unemployed, the uninsured and the health care industry generally with his decisions to turn down billions in federal unemployment insurance and Medicaid dollars. He’s already made clear he has no real interest in reaching out to the African-American community with his statements of support for a mandatory voter ID law.

And now, in a move that is more symbolic than substantive, he has given a big raspberry to another community that national Republicans had been trying to court in the wake of last November’s presidential election by announcing that he’s closing the state’s Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Read More


Pat McCrory 2Governor McCrory’s poll numbers remain relatively strong – especially in comparison to the General Assembly’s – and thus far it’s easy to see why. The Guv is an affable guy who smiles a lot and mostly avoids picking public fights. He signs popular bills in front of TV cameras and unpopular ones behind closed doors. When he is confronted with a tough public question you can wager that his response will be: a) a poll-tested sound bite, b) a promise to study and “fix” the problem, or c) both.

The common assumption thus far is that McCrory’s outward superficiality is simply a strategic move: Why get all caught up in the weeds of any number of controversial issues when you can respond with a platitude or blame your predecessor’s supposed failures? And that may be the ultimate explanation. Today, however, there were at least a couple of troubling signs that the superficiality you see may really be all there is.

Number One was 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