The leaders of the North Carolina Senate announced their plan to pass a state budget bill this week. Note that I didn’t say a plan to “debate” the budget bill or “gather input” on the budget bill, “hold hearings” on the budget bill or, God forbid, “listen to the public” on the budget bill.
No, what the Senate announced was that the largest, most important bill of the year will be voted on four days after it was first seen late last night. And public input? To paraphrase the Senate leaders: “We don’t need stinkin’ public input!”
Mind you, this is a 413 page bill that deals with myriad topics. It is incredibly complicated and important to our state’s future. And how was it put together? Well no one knows; it was all done in secret.
What we do know is that it will be quickly reviewed in subcommittees this afternoon, passed by the full Appropriations Committee tomorrow and then passed by the full Senate on Wednesday and Thursday. Democrats will probably get to run a few amendments that will either be voted down on party-line votes or ruled out of order.
How’s that for democracy in action? As with so many areas, the folks running the legislature who used to complain mightily when they were in the minority, have now taken secrecy and lack of process to new levels that would have made their predecessors blush.