Commentary, News

Last Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

McCrory_berger_moore1. Lessons from the disappearing budget provision in McCrory’s pay to play scandal

The newest revelations in the pay to play scandal now swirling around the McCrory Administration don’t make the governor look any better but they are a reminder of how concentrated power has become in the General Assembly and how absurd the state budget process remains.

Reporters with the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer broke the story more than a week ago of how Gov. McCrory convened a meeting last year between his political donor Graeme Keith, Sr. and officials in his administration about Keith’s $3 million prison maintenance contract that was about to expire.

A memo prepared by officials in the Department of Public Safety says that McCrory turned the meeting over to Keith who said that he had given money to politicians and it was time he received something in return. [Continue reading…]

VETERANSDAY2. Veterans deserve more than parades
Steps we should take if we’re really serious about helping those who’ve served our country

American politicians have a strange relationship with those who serve in the military. On the one hand, most love to pay lip service to the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. Today, across the country, politicians of all stripes and ideologies will appear at parades and other events to issue solemn pronouncements that lift up and salute veterans.

Last night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s office distributed a video of this ilk in which, to the accompaniment of soft piano music, the Governor talked of his family members who served in the military, lamented the lack of respect accorded to some Vietnam vets decades ago and listed a couple of modest steps the state has taken in recent years to promote the employment of veterans.

Unfortunately, that will be about as far as things go. [Continue reading…]

pv-POVERTY11-123. North Carolina’s hunger problem: Set to get worse just in time for the holidays

As many of us plan and prepare for family gatherings and celebratory meals in the upcoming holiday season, here’s a startling and disturbing fact to consider: Only a handful of U.S. states have higher hunger rates than North Carolina. The weak and uneven economic recovery hasn’t reduced hunger in our communities: the share of North Carolinians who don’t have a consistent supply of food has actually not budged since 2009, evidence of the state’s large job shortage and boom in low-wage jobs that make it difficult to buy food.

Next year, this harsh reality will get even worse for many North Carolinians who are very poor and struggle to find work in communities where job opportunities are scarce. That’s when, thanks to the recent action of the General Assembly and Governor McCrory, a three-month time limit for food assistance returns for childless, non-disabled adults.

As a point of reference, the average income of the people who will lose their food assistance is just $2,236…per year. [Continue reading…]

domestic_violence4. Want to reduce domestic violence? Then expand Medicaid

Speaking at a recent press event on North Carolina’s failure to expand Medicaid, I highlighted the fact that October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’m sure many were initially surprised to hear me make the connection between these two subjects. It’s clear that many important state leaders who often pay lip service to the issue of domestic violence don’t see it.

Having personally spent more than a decade providing support to victims of domestic and sexual violence, however, I can affirm that they are linked on multiple levels.

How can expanding Medicaid benefit victims of domestic violence? There are many ways, not the least of which is making healthcare more affordable to the approximately 500,000 North Carolinians who currently do not have access to quality health care, some of whom are surely experiencing domestic abuse. [Continue reading…]

WB-11-10-UNC5. University leaders or superstar CEO’s?
Five reasons why giant salaries for UNC bosses are not the answer

North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson is very clearly a good guy. He is also, by many accounts, a fine chancellor and, if the recent gift that he and his wife gave to N.C. State to establish a scholarship fund is any indication, a person who cares about those less fortunate than himself.

All of that said, Professor Michael Behrent of Appalachian State was absolutely correct in a Progressive Voices column he wrote for N.C. Policy Watch last week in which he called on 12 UNC chancellors including Dr. Woodson to return the money they were recently awarded in massive pay raises.

Simply put, however excellent a chancellor Woodson is, it is simply wrong for the people of North Carolina to be paying him $590,000 per year. (A “stipend” from the private N.C. State Foundation actually raises Woodson’s overall compensation to $790,000 annually.) The same is true for the $570,000 UNC Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt now pulls in – not to mention the near $1 million per year package bestowed upon new UNC system president Margaret Spellings. [Continue reading…]

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