If you can't get what you want in the proper fashion, put it in the budget:
House, Senate reach agreement on two-year state budget (WRAL-TV) -- House and Senate leaders announced Sunday that they have reached an agreement on a $20.6 billion state budget that will end teacher tenure and allow taxpayer money to be spent for private school tuition.
Pentagon chief can't offer hope in budget cuts (AP) — The audience gasped in surprise and gave a few low whistles as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered the news that furloughs, which have forced a 20 percent pay cut on most of the military's civilian workforce, probably will continue next year, and it might get worse. "Those are the facts of life," Hagel told about 300 Defense Department employees, most of them middle-aged civilians, last week at an Air Force reception hall on a military base in Charleston.
GOP leaders agree on $20.6 billion NC budget (AP) — Leaders in the North Carolina House and Senate announced Sunday that they have reached agreement on a $20.6 billion budget that will end teacher tenure and allow taxpayer money to be spent for private school tuition.
Conference Report on Continuation, Expansion & Capital Budgets, SB 402 Budget Committee Report -
Conference Committee Substitute for SB 402, Appropriations Act of 2013 Budget Bill Text -
Historic NC budget up for vote (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Legislators are set to vote on a historic $20.6 billion budget this week that would have the state take a giant step toward further privatization of education, end teacher tenure, and compensate victims of the government eugenics program. Teacher assistants take a hit in the budget released Sunday, which reduces state spending on them by $120 million, or about 21 percent. The budget ends funding for the embattled Rural Economic Development Center, whose longtime president, Billy Ray Hall, resigned under pressure last week. The budget creates a division focused on rural economic development within the state Department of Commerce.
Some of this year's biggest political stories resolved in the state budget (WRAL-TV) -- The state budget brings clarity to long-fought battles over how teachers will be paid, how the Commerce Department will be organized, funding for rural development and other stories.
State budget would give money to eugenics victims (Winston-Salem Journal) -- After a long, hard fight, victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program may finally be getting some compensation. State House and Senate leaders reached an agreement Sunday on a $20.6 billion state budget that provides one-time compensation for living victims of a state-sponsored eugenics program. The budget would provide $10 million to be divided among the confirmed victims. At this point, that would probably mean about $50,000 for each victim, said Jordan Shaw, a spokeswoman for Thom Tillis, the speaker of the N.C. House.
N.C.tax overhauls lowers income taxes, but adds new sales taxes (Fayetteville Observer) -- The overhaul of the state tax system lowers personal and corporate tax rates and packs in lots of other changes, big and small. Your utility bills will rise slightly, you'll start paying sales tax on movie tickets, and after this year, you'll have to travel to another state if you want to take advantage of a sales tax holiday on back-to-school items. But you'll pay less in state income tax - unless you don't. In the most notable changes, the overhaul, which passed Wednesday, cuts and flattens the state's three-tiered personal income tax system. Currently, individual taxpayers pay a rate set at 6 percent, 7 percent or 7.5 percent, depending on their income. Starting Jan. 1, everyone will pay 5.8 percent, and the rate will drop to 5.75 percent in 2015. The corporate tax rate also was cut, from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014. It will drop to 5 percent in 2015. Republican backers have said they believe the tax cuts will help the economy because people will have more money to spend. And, they said, the state is already seeing interest from businesses elsewhere that are looking for new locations. Opponents say the tax package leaves an already hurting state budget with even less revenue. State revenues are projected to drop $86.6 million in 2013-14, $437.8 million in 2014-15 and by more than $600 million by mid-2018.
With budget deal in hand, end of session in site (WRAL-TV) -- House and Senate negotiators have come to an agreement on the budget. Lawmakers will now try to settle other big issues as they bring the legislative session to a close this week.
Voter ID bill focus of planned Monday NAACP rally (AP) -- Organizers of a 12th week of protests outside the North Carolina General Assembly plan to focus on opposition to a new voter identification bill.
NC Senate Unveils Voter ID Proposal (N.C. Political News) -- Senate Republicans presented a proposal Thursday to require North Carolinians to show photo identification when they vote, fulfilling one of their most important promises – protecting the integrity of elections. The Senate substitute to House Bill 589 guarantees anyone who wants to vote will have that opportunity. It establishes a list of valid government-issued photo IDs – including driver’s licenses, non-operator ID cards, tribal and military IDs and passports – that voters can present at their polling places. And it allows anyone without a valid photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Guns, voter ID remain as NC lawmakers near adjourn (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly aims to wind down its 2013 session this coming week — perhaps just in time, too.
No need to grease the skids of 'streamlining' state personnel (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory wants it to be easier to fire state workers. Why?
Will tax reform mean more jobs? (Gaston Gazette) -- A bill Gov. Pat McCrory has pledged to sign could make it easier for Cleveland County to attract big business. Earlier this week, German-owned KSM Castings broke ground on its new property located on Plato Lee Road. The automotive parts supplier says it will hire nearly 200 people in the coming years. Now Cleveland County economic development leaders say their goal is to get the county unemployment rate to 7 percent, a yearly average not seen since 2007. And North Carolina’s latest tax reform could pave the way. “It’s a gigantic step for the state,” said Cleveland County Commissioner Eddie Holbrook of the legislation that now awaits McCrory’s signature. The bill would reduce the state’s three personal income tax brackets — the highest rate at 7.75 percent — into one flat rate of 5.8 percent in 2014 and 5.75 percent in 2015. The corporate income tax rate of 6.9 percent would fall to 6 percent next year and 5 percent in 2015. The corporate rate could fall further in 2016 or 2017 if the state meets revenue goals. Those falling corporate taxes makes coming to North Carolina and Cleveland County more attractive for industry. “We were at a pretty severe disadvantage,” Holbrook said,
Farm bill gives legal, environmental protections to agriculture (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A regulatory reform bill for the agricultural industry has sailed through the General Assembly and was signed into law last week by Gov. Pat McCrory. SB638 provides protections to farmers and "agri-tourism" interests against what its backers call frivolous lawsuits. It is also intended to make it easier for businesses to find insurance for petting zoos, educational programs and other operations; protect farmers' water rights when there are water shortages; and give agriculture leeway in building and maintaining dams.
Fingerprinting provision in NC welfare bill draws criticism (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina residents applying for welfare could be asked to provide their physical fingerprints to the Department of Social Services under a bill that tightens regulations on benefit applicants.
POLICY & POLITICS
Frustrations Mount Over NCTracks System (N.C. Health News) -- Medicaid providers knew that the rollout of the state’s new Medicaid billing system would be rocky, but many say their problems are..
NC Highway Patrol down about 160 troopers (AP) — The North Carolina Highway Patrol hopes additional money and a slowdown in retirements will help it fill about 160 empty positions.
Parents question recent changes to charters, private schools, poll shows (Washington Post) -- Parents would rather strengthen neighborhood schools than enroll children elsewhere, the poll shows.
Pitt schools segregation lawsuit in federal court (AP) Nearly 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools, lawyers are set to square off in a federal courtroom in eastern North Carolina over whether the effects of that Jim Crow past still persist.
U.S. Schools Chief Labors to Straddle Political Divide (Wall Street Journal) -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been more successful at bridging partisan lines than perhaps any other member of President Obama's cabinet.
Civil Rights Case Begins Today In Greenville (WUNC-FM) -- A federal judge will hear opening arguments today in a case that pits African-American parents against the Pitt County Schools. Pitt County, like many school districts in North Carolina, has a long history of segregation in its schools. About a dozen or so districts in the state are still under an active desegregation court-order, first issued in the 1960's, that requires them to be supervised by the federal courts.
Hundreds march in Raleigh for 'Triangle for Trayvon Rally' (WRAL-TV) -- State NAACP President Rev. William Barber called on the crowd of hundreds to help repeal North Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" law as people across the nation also took part in similar rallies.
Grief, outrage drive Raleigh rally for Trayvon Martin (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In a rally that jammed Martin Street and filled a Baptist church, the death of Trayvon Martin and the freedom of George Zimmerman became a rallying cry for broad social change.
‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally held (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Between 150 and 200 people gathered at the steps of the Pitt County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon to speak out against the “not guilty” verdict for Trayvon Martin’s killer and encourage the community to act and make positive changes.
Oversight agency report: More mental patients in emergency departments (Winston-Salem Journal) -- North Carolinians experiencing a mental-health crisis comprised 75 percent of behavioral health-related hospital admissions through a visit to an emergency department, according to a report by a state oversight agency.
Retired teachers take on new careers as private investigators (Wilmington Star-News) -- For David and Lisa Brewster, successes these days seldom result in celebrations.
GSK acknowledges execs may have broken Chinese laws (WRAL-TV) -- "Certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls, which breaches Chinese law," GSK's head of emerging markets says.
Effects of war can take long-lasting toll on young children in military families (Washington Post) -- Though kids are resilient, they can still feel the strain of deployments and long separations, a report says.
Made in NC: Soft, comfy sofas? They're still manufactured here (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Since 1990, North Carolina has lost more than 60,000 furniture-making jobs, mainly because many companies moved their operations overseas. But many companies in the state are still making upholstered furniture.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Reward for Cutting Power at Peak Times (Wall Street Journal) -- As East Coast residents cranked up their air conditioners last week, utility officials turned not only to every available power plant but also to programs that reward customers for cutting power use at peak times.
Water + Rest + Shade = Survival in Extreme Heat (Public News Service) -- A roofer collapses and dies while cleaning up materials after a long day. A worker cutting trees falls unconscious in 100-degree weather and later dies. Federal officials are sharing these stories of deaths to raise awareness of the risks of working outside during the hot, humid days.
Moniz to reshape Energy leadership (Politico) -- Changes are in the works for undersecretaries, defense cleanups and science programs.
Some WWII Wrecks Could Still Leak Oil (Coastal Review) -- Thirty-six sunken merchant ships -- many sunk by German U-boats during the Battle of the North Atlantic -- may still contain oil and could threaten marine resources.
Government websites can't replace broader public notice requirements (Wilmington Star-News) -- The bill represents a piecemeal approach to eroding the public's right to adequate notice.
Long, hard fight for sterilization compensation is almost won (Winston-Salem Journal) Cheers to state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger for agreeing on a budget that finally includes compensation for the living victims of the state’s forced sterilization program. Once the members of their chambers approve this budget, it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory, a compensation supporter, for his signature.
Immigration Enforcement (New York Times column) -- Your July 14 editorial “Secretary Napolitano Resigns” incompletely and unfairly assessed the secretary of homeland security’s immigration enforcement record. Secretary Janet Napolitano has worked with Congress to develop and implement a more rational and humane immigration enforcement policy, prioritizing the deportation of criminals. The “deportation dragnet” that The Times condemns most closely resembles the deservedly maligned “287(g)” program. Under the secretary’s direction, Immigration and Customs Enforcement opted to wind down 287(g) task forces. Carefully targeting immigration enforcement remains a challenge, but contrary to your editorial, Secretary Napolitano and the director of ICE, John Morton, have been central to noteworthy progress. DAVID E. PRICE;Washington, July 16, 2013 -- The writer, a Democrat from North Carolina, is the ranking member and former chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
Joblessness not fixed by cutting off aid (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- The first month of North Carolina’s singular stand on federal emergency unemployment compensation is coming to a close.
GOP exits gate with tax reform (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Democrats were quick to pounce on a state tax reform plan advanced by Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP leaders in the General Assembly — probably too quick. Of course, it’s too early to tell if the Republican proposal for a widespread tax cut will deliver all that its backers say it will. But one thing is relatively certain on that score: What the state has been doing for more than a decade isn’t working very well; so it might be time to look at another approach.
Law to require detectors in hotels needs quick approval (Wilson Times) -- We are pleased to see the legislature acting quickly to require carbon-monoxide detectors in hotels following the tragic deaths of three guests in separate incidents in the same room earlier this year.
Heaps of hyperbole drowning honest political discourse (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- We're engaged in a breathless competition to produce the most extreme government in America. No doubt we're gaining ground. By the end of next year's short session, we should have, at long last, become the cultural and political capital of the confederacy.
Read by third grade, or face consequences (Charlotte Observer column) -- This fall, North Carolina launches a new assault on reading proficiency – or rather the lack of proficiency by too many N.C. third graders. N.C. lawmakers hope to change that through a plan that relies a lot on testing and has the controversial mandate that third graders who fail the end-of-year reading test won’t go on to fourth grade.
Fix, don't nix, state's Rural Econ Center (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- North Carolina needs the Rural Economic Development Center, but that center needs new direction.