COUNTY EDUCATION BUDGETS SUFFERING FROM GOP STATE-LEVEL TAX CUTS: The school board has to cut its budget after the Wake County Board of Commissioners provided only $45 million of the extra $59 million district officials requested to fund schools in 2018-19. The cuts mean fewer support teachers, fewer school counselors, a negligible local raise for teachers and even higher costs for student parking. But board member Bill Fletcher said Wednesday that the cuts don't have to be that deep. For years, he said, lawmakers have been shifting costs the state should be covering to the counties. "If the Republicans are going to say, 'We're going to reduce taxes at the state because that's a good thing to do,' but we're going to require the counties to increase taxes to pay for it, that's not right," said Fletcher, who's a registered Republican.
DEMOCRAT DAN MCCREADY LEADS MARK HARRIS BY 7 POINTS IN NEW POLL: A North Carolina Democrat holds a surprising lead in one of the most watched congressional races in the country, according to a new poll released Wednesday. Democrat Dan McCready holds a 7-point lead on Republican Mark Harris in North Carolina's 9th District, the conservative, Raleigh-based Civitas Institute found in its poll of 543 likely voters in the district. McCready's lead is larger than the poll's 4.6 percent margin of error. It's a reliably Republican district where President Donald Trump won by 11 points and incumbent Robert Pittenger won re-election with more than 58 percent of the vote in 2016. McCready, an Iraq War veteran and owner of a solar energy company, holds a 16-point edge with women. The poll was being conducted at the same time as news stories broke about a 2013 sermon Harris gave concerning the role of women.
BLUE WAVE CRESTS: NC DEMOCRATS BREAK MID-TERM CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING RECORDS: Republicans control the North Carolina legislature, but Democrats have a record amount of cash to help their candidates gain power this fall. The NC Democratic Party on Thursday announced it has $5.8 million to help state House and state Senate candidates this fall. That figure sets a record for the party's fundraising at this point in a midterm election year. The party says it has seven times more than it had by the same time in the 2014 election ($800,266) and 22 times more than the amount it had by the same time in 2010 ($252,467). The party raised a record $2.3 million during this year's second-quarter campaign period. “Democrats across the state are outworking, outhustling, and outraising Republicans, showing that the grassroots energy and momentum are on our side and many Republicans are going to be caught flat-footed in November,” Goodwin said in a statement.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: GOVERNMENT REOPENS EMMETT TILL CASE: The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago. The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it is reinvestigating Till's slaying in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after receiving "new information." The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn't file any new charges. Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday. The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till's name, does not indicate what the new information might be.
TRUMP CONTINUES TO BERATE ALLIES AT NATO SUMMIT: President Donald Trump renewed his pressure tactics on fellow NATO nations to increase their defense spending on Thursday, calling out U.S. allies on Twitter as he attended a second day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance. In a series of tweets from Brussels, Trump said “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia.” He complained the United States “pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe” and demanded that member nations meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, which “must ultimately go to 4%!” Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the NATO summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defense spending.