Kay Hagan Speaks in Support of SCHIP & NC Workers

Kay Hagan spoke on the floor of the Senate in support of the Children's Health Insurance Program and workers in North Carolina's tobacco industry.

Less than a month into my service here in the U.S. Senate, I’m faced with a situation in which the health of millions of my state’s children are at odds with a key industry in North Carolina. But Mr. President, ultimately, I have to vote on behalf of the 10 million low-income and disadvantaged children this bill helps. In this economy, when families are being forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on their table, I cannot make it harder for them to keep their children healthy, safe and cared-for. I cast this vote in the affirmative as a mother, as a former budget chairman for the state of North Carolina, who knows how difficult it is for the state to close the gap in funding for this critical program when the federal government drops the ball, and as a U.S.

Now is the time for Bold Action

Right now our state is in a crunch. We will hit the end of this fiscal year with no budget deficit, mostly because of some severe steps that Governors Easley and Perdue took and will take. I don’t fault them, they are required to not run a deficit. However, next year will require a significant legislative fix if we are going to avoid a government shutdown to ensure the constitutionally mandated balance budget.

How to save an easy $140 million in the state budget

This started off as a comment over in James' post about Doug Berger's ideas on the budget. I started to comment that Republican Pete Brunstetter had one crazy idea and one not so crazy idea.

What two things would you cut in the state budget? "I'm not a big fan of the More at Four program," Brunstetter said. "I don't think it has had the impact that justifies the cost."

He added that there needs to be some consideration of merging More at Four with Smart Start, another pre-school program.

Getting rid of early childhood education programs is so stupid I can't even comment, but the idea of merging two pre-school programs into one overhead makes sense.

But, this is where my bullshitometer went off.

State Legislative Session Begins

The 2009-2010 session of the North Carolina General Assembly has begun. Galleries are packed. An overflow crowd is gathered outside the chambers or watching a live feed in an adjacent auditorium. The picture shows the House chamber. Click on the image for a couple more photos.


Update: Leave it to the professionals to capture the true bitter sweet flavor of the opening session:

Matt Saldana at Triangulator blog at The Independent Weekly:
Day 1: Stam invokes Defense of Marriage, and other notes from the Ledge

Laura Leslie at Isaac Hunter's Tavern blog at WUNC:
Wed. late: They're BAA-aaack...

Basnight signals education on the chopping block

Make sure you read this story from the Elizabeth City paper.

“Education will be critical to our discussions,” Basnight said. “If you dip into that area too much, you start affecting what makes this state so popular to live in.” Until the session is under way, both Owens and Basnight said it is unclear what other areas of state spending will be subject to cutbacks.

One area not likely to see spending cutbacks is the state Department of Corrections, Basnight said. (Emphasis added.)

So there you have it. We'll keep on buildin' us some more prisons and locking up kids for smoking pot, even as we cut public education. It's a right wing wet dream come true.

Open thread

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A teacher told me once to imagine my hand in a bucket of water. "Now remove it," he said. "Do you see how long it took the water to fill in where your hand used to be? That's how long it takes the universe to get along without you when you're gone."

We like to imagine otherwise, don't we?

Time for comprehensive sex ed in NC!

I am a teenager on the North Carolina Youth Leadership Council (NCYLC) in Chapel hill, NC. This is an exciting few weeks for us, because we are introducing the Healthy Youth Act, a bill that would put comprehensive sex education into schools in grades 7 through 9. Teens are going to be lobbying, attending a press conference, writing letters, talking to their schools, and making phone calls for this cause. I met with a NC senator from Durham to discuss this issue today, and we are working on persuading more state representatives and senators to vote for the Healthy Youth Act.

Kissell Set to Succeed Where Hayes Failed - Update/Video

Rep. Larry Kissell, NC-08 went in front of the rules committee today to try to fulfill promises made to American textile workers by his predecessor, Robin Hayes. With less than three full weeks under his belt, Kissell proposed an amendment to the committee and his amendment is included as part of the stimulus bill. Tomorrow, that amendment will be debated on the House floor.

The amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security purchase uniforms from American textile companies. Hayes tried and failed to get similar legislation through the House. You will find the full amendment here.

Update

Spam in a Can

Those of you who are familiar with the history of the space program may well recognize the Mercury astronauts' reference to themselves. Though no astronaut, I could certainly sympathize after spending six of ten days curled into my car driving 4000+ miles out to Tucson, AZ and back.

Along the way I visited the 51st state. In fact I spent more time in the 51st state than I did in Arizona. I spent four days in AZ, but spent 6 days in "Inter-State", USA. Inter-State is that blur of Best Westerns, Days Inns, fast food, gas stations, on ramps and exits that twine across our country like asphalt ivy. Larger geography- states, regions and landscapes - doesn't seem to matter all that much; Inter-State is Inter-State. The occasional urban traffic scrum is even very similar whether it be Dallas-Ft. Worth, Memphis, or Atlanta.

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