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#1 comes from the Charlotte Observer which, in response to the recent decision upholding GOP-drawn legislative districts, makes another strong case for passing nonpartisan redistricting legislation now:

“Legal doesn’t necessarily mean fair, however, and our opinion on redistricting remains the same. The process in North Carolina is flawed and time consuming. It allows the party in power to protect incumbents by drawing districts in a way that dilutes the opposition’s strength. It takes choices away from voters. Read More

The latest Senate tax plan continues to provide large tax cuts to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations, while shifting more of the overall tax load to middle-class families and reducing revenue for schools, health care and other services by nearly $1 billion each year when fully implemented. Yesterday, Senator Berger released the Senate’s latest tax plan after a week of negotiations behind closed doors with the House. While Senators state that many of the criticisms of their earlier bill have been addressed, the loss of revenue remains high.

In order to bring down the overall cost of the bill – from $1.3 billion to just under $1 billion under the new tax plan – the Senate plan shifts the tax load to the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers, who on average will see their taxes increase. This tax shift is a result of the combined impact of expanding the sales tax base to more goods and services, the loss of the personal exemption and the cap on itemized deductions. By contrast, the top 1 percent will see their taxes cut on average by nearly $11,000, with 56 percent of the total net tax going to the richest taxpayers.

 Senate 5thed Chart

The Senate tax plan fails to address the state’s upside-down tax system and actually makes it worse by skewing it even more in favor of the wealthy and profitable corporations. The significant reduction in revenue means further cuts to public education, health care, and public safety in the years ahead. A tax plan that shifts the tax load to low- and middle-income families is not a plan that promotes economic opportunity for all North Carolinians.

Phil BergerAt some point, you’d think the conservative elected officials behind North Carolina’s stingiest-in-the-nation unemployment insurance cuts would at least have the courage and decency to stand up, look straight in the camera and take responsibility for the the pain they are about to inflict on 170,000 jobless workers and their families. And indeed, while they’re at it, they would also do well  to note the impending damage to the state’s economy as a whole as it is forced to do without $600 million in federal dollars and endure an estimated overall decline in economic activity of around $1.2 billion.

Unfortunately, as next Monday’s benefits cut-off deadline  fast approaches, courage and decency are in short supply on Jones Street and spin and blame deflection appear to be the order of the day. Last Friday afternoon, in fact, a paid flak for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger set what might be a new low in this department with a letter to members of the press corps that literally overflows with inaccuracies and downright falsehoods.

Here, in the interest of setting the record straight, is the staffer’s letter interspersed periodically with the actual truth. Our corrections and additions appear in bold italics.

——– Original message ——–
From: “Amy Auth (President Pro Tem’s Office)” <Amy.Auth@ncleg.net>
Date: 06/21/2013 3:39 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: “Amy Auth (President Pro Tem’s Office)” <Amy.Auth@ncleg.net>
Subject: Unemployment Insurance Reforms

Dear Members of the Press Corps: Read More

Phil BergerIt’s funny how a little water under the bridge and a change of jobs can alter one’s perspective on public events.

This is from a 2009 News & Observer “Under the Dome” story about then-Senate Minority Leader (and current Senate President Pro Tem) Phil Berger slamming budget negotiations between House and Senate leaders — mind you, this was during a period of profound budget crisis in which the Great Recession was pummeling the state’s economy and tax revenues:

“Senate Republican leader Sen. Phil Berger said it’s another example of Democrats’ incompetence that the state doesn’t have a budget 14 days into the fiscal year.

‘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.”

Now flash forward to 2013. This is from a “Dome” story posted this morning: Read More

It looks like Governor McCrory’s role in the big tax cut debate between House and Senate leaders might be merely to market what the legislative leaders come up with.

Here’s what House Speaker Thom Tillis told the News & Observer about McCrory’s role in the discussion about a tax deal.

We need the governor fully on board so he can communicate it and get people to understand it.

That’s a bit of an odd take from Tillis. He didn’t say they need to work with the governor because he is running the state or because he is the top elected official of their own political party or heaven forbid, because he might have some policy ideas and strongly held views of his own about taxes.

No, they need the governor on board only to sell the package that Berger and Tillis decide on. It is pretty clear legislative leaders believe they are in charge in Raleigh these days. McCrory? He is their PR guy.