I received this letter today from SELC, an organization I have long supported. The letter is a good summary of North Carolina Republicans' ostrich mentality when it comes to construction on our sinking shores. There's much at risk, and the GOP is doing absolutely nothing but wishful thinking.
Dear SELC Friend,
For many years SELC has been working on all fronts to forestall and combat the effects of global warming and climate change. Our clean air and energy team spends every day striving to limit the greenhouse gases so dramatically changing our planet. And our coastal team covers hundreds of shoreline miles to make sure we deal with the impacts of rising seas swiftly and intelligently.
Nowhere in our region is the problem felt more acutely than on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and I wanted to share some recent developments there as well as some background information to put it all in perspective.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced Tuesday afternoon he'll allow legislation to clean up coal ash in North Carolina to become law without his signature. The proposal was the topic of tense debate last month between House and Senate leaders, who sent the governor a compromise plan in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session.
According to a statement released by McCrory's office late Tuesday, the governor supports "continued action" on the clean up, but he has concerns about the constitutionality of the oversight commission created by the legislation. The majority of members on that independent panel will be appointed by state lawmakers, not the governor. "While there are great pieces to this legislation, there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected,” McCrory said in the statement.
Then they should be corrected, not allowed to become law. I understand (as Laura Leslie mentioned on Facebook yesterday) due to political concerns McCrory feels like he has no choice. Just like many Legislators who voted for it, going against this bill could anger the public, who simply want something done on this issue. But it's not going to protect them as much as they think it will, and that false sense of security could end up being more dangerous in the long run than sending it back to the kitchen.
IS NEW STATE BUDGET ALREADY HEADED TO A $1 BILLION SHORTFALL?
North Carolina’s budget year is a mere two months old and already there are annoyances that could be signs of huge problems in a few months. Total general fund revenues are $200.4 million short where they were at this point last year, according to the Monthly Financial Report for August 2014, issued by State Controller’s Office on Tuesday.
If the current trend continues, it is likely legislators will be dealing with a budget hole of $725 million to as much as $1.2 billion. This past legislative session, the General Assembly had to confront a $500 million shortfall as they struggled to meet a variety of election-year spending demands, including pay raises for teachers and other state workers. Most state agencies started the year already in an austerity mode and it won’t be surprising, if by the end of September or October, memos will be dispatched from Lee Roberts, Gov. Pat McCrory’s new budget director, with belt-tightening orders and restrictions on state employee travel.
McCrory will likely try to avoid doing anything before election day, so it won’t have an impact on the various campaigns, particularly for fellow Mecklenburg County Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House of Representatives who is locked in a very close race for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.
Don’t be surprised when legislative leaders and key budget analysts declare that it is still too early in the process to say whether any trends are in place and that they expect revenues to increase in late October and into November and December with holiday shopping and lucrative year-end bonuses. The major culprits for this latest revenue shortfalls are individual income taxes running $225.5 million behind last year along with franchise fees which are running $51.3 million behind the same point last year. Tax cuts enacted by the legislature have had a major impact that haven’t been made up with predicted economic growth in other areas.
In August 2012 the state collected $816.5 million in personal income taxes. This past August, the total was $680.3 million – a difference of $136 million. Broadening of the state sales tax has, over the same period, brought in additional $124.6 million – still not equal to the income tax cuts, including reductions in the corporate income tax.
McCrory aims to stump for Tillis in US Senate race (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he plans to do anything he can to help fellow Republican Thom Tillis' election campaign for the U.S. Senate in November, and will campaign for state legislators as time allows. McCrory said Tuesday he's planning to actively campaign for Tillis. The governor noted he endorsed the top lawmaker in the state House before the Republican primary election in May. Tillis and McCrory are both from the Charlotte area and have been close allies on most legislative issues since the governor took office last year. McCrory says he's getting many requests from legislative candidates to help their campaigns. The governor says he'll try to support as many as possible around his work schedule, but points out North Carolina is a big state. http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/mccrory-aims-stump-tillis-us-senate-r...
Also distressing, he said, were violations of the “Brady rule” requiring that exculpatory information be handed over to the defense. Three days before trial, the Red Springs police sought to test a beer can found at the scene for fingerprints of Mr. Artis and L. P. Sinclair, listing both as suspects. The can had two fingerprints, one from the victim, another from neither Mr. McCollum nor Mr. Brown. But mysteriously, tests for the other two men never were performed.
None of that was shared with defense lawyers, Johnson Britt said. Nor was the information that Mr. Sinclair, the informer who said Mr. McCollum had admitted killing the girl, had previously said he did not know anything about the murder, and a lie-detector test indicated he was telling the truth.
I was going to say, "Make sure and read the whole thing," but getting this angry is not healthy. And I don't care how old this asshole is, he deserves to spend a few years in jail himself:
In an order issued today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to expedite an appeal of a lower court’s refusal to block voting law changes from taking effect this November, and has scheduled argument on that appeal for September 25 in Charlotte.
For North Carolina voters, that meant that for this election cycle, there would be no same-day registration, early voting days would be reduced from 17 to 10, and votes cast out-of-precinct would not be counted.
Back in the good old days (when Dems were in charge) a meeting like this would hardly register on my consciousness. But Republicans never miss a chance to punish those who can least afford punishment, and I can see the Medicaid rolls being "cleansed" even further in the near future.
Tillis’ over-the-counter birth control plan wouldn’t increase access (Carolina Mercury) -- When House Speaker Thom Tillis was asked during last week’s U.S. Senate debate whether or not he agreed with the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, the Speaker had a neatly packaged response ready. According to the Republican candidate, Hobby Lobby, which said that corporations with religious beliefs can deny employees contraceptive coverage, was not about birth control, but about religious freedom. On the supposedly unrelated topic of birth control, however, Tillis was quick to note that he supports broadening access to contraception http://www.carolinamercury.com/2014/09/tillis-over-the-counter-birth-con...
More confusion among GOP leadership on teacher pay after McCrory letter gives yet another ‘average’ increase number (WRAL-TV) -- When Gov. Pat McCrory wrote to welcome teachers back to the classroom, he touted a "substantial" pay raise that amounted to "an average pay increase of 5.5 percent for teachers." That might have been exciting news, except that for more than a month legislative leaders have been touting a 7 percent average pay raise. House Speaker Thom Tillis trumpets that 7 percent figures as "simple math" in a recent campaign ad for his U.S. Senate campaign. For educators like Michelle Pettey, a first-grade teacher at Wake County's Brier Creek Elementary School, that "simple math" doesn't add up; 5.5 percent doesn't equal 7 percent and neither number matches the smaller-than-expected pay bump that showed up in her first paycheck of the year. "No teacher can figure out what happened," said Pettey, a teacher with 16 years in the classroom who said her actual raise worked out to be something like 1.39 percent. Josh Ellis, a spokesman for Gov. McCrory, said the difference between the 5.5 percent number and the 7 percent number is a difference in accounting. http://www.wral.com/pay-raise-claims-confuse-frustrate-teachers/13961974/
If you haven't been reading the N&O current series on the economic and employment tragedy ongoing in the construction industry, you're missing a story of corruption, exploitation and greed, unlike any you've heard before. The reporting and writing are excellent.
Workers don't have protections. Companies don't withhold taxes. Regulators don't seem to care. McClatchy reporters spent a year unraveling the scheme, using little-noticed payroll records that show how widespread this practice has become and what it costs us.
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