GOP education plan: Unfunded mandates and temporary fixes

You can have tax cuts for the wealthy or proper school funding, but not both:

In passing the bill, Senate leaders have publicly promised to provide additional funds for enhancement teachers beginning the 2018-19 school year. Despite the pledge, the Senate worryingly voted down an effort by Sen. Jay Chaudhuri to include that funding pledge in the bill’s language. As a result, North Carolina’s class-size controversy remains unsettled.

Absent from the class-size debate has been an estimate of exactly how much additional funding will be required to meet 2018-19 class-size requirements while preserving enhancement classes for students in grades K-3. To fully-fund class-size requirements and enhancement teachers, the General Assembly will need to increase classroom teacher funding by approximately $293 million in FY 18-19.

Just a comment about messaging and word choice: I like the term "Enhancement" when classifying teachers and their subjects, much more than what I've been hearing a lot over the last few weeks, "Specials." I realize the latter is educator jargon and is not meant to be derogatory or demeaning, actually the opposite. But words don't automatically become what you want them to just because you chose them, they have their own baggage, their own connotations, and your meaning can be misinterpreted and your words used against you very easily. Special can mean enhanced, but it can also mean in addition to, on top of, on occasion, temporary, and other meanings that make it easier for someone to say, "That would be nice, but we can't afford it." I would argue these subjects are just as "Core" as the core classes, but if you're going to delineate between the two, choose the terminology wisely.

Friday News: A tale of two Houses

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SENATE WILL LIKELY CHANGE HEALTHCARE OVERHAUL BILL SUBSTANTIALLY: The next step in repealing and replacing Obamacare promises to be a long, slow slog with enough political obstacles to tie it up for months, if not years. Republicans hold a more narrow majority of 52 to 48 in the Senate. And divisions within the GOP are just as stark as the differences between its factions in the House of Representatives that stymied the bill’s progress in that chamber. But the legislation could look very different – and there is a possibility that the House bill won’t even be considered. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., congratulated the House on its bill but said the Senate would finish its own and would “take the time to get it right.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article148626219.html

NC's "silver spoon" charter school proposal

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Because corporate scions deserve preferential treatment:

A nonpartisan, national organization setting benchmarks for charter policy is expressing concerns with a pair of GOP-backed charter reform proposals advancing in the N.C. General Assembly, at least one of which the organization describes as the first of its kind in the nation.

The former allows for up to 30 percent growth in charters not identified as low-performing with no additional state review of finances or operations; the latter clears publicly-funded charters to set aside half of their enrollment for the children of private “charter partners,” defined as corporations donating land, infrastructure, renovations or technology to the schools.

Bolding mine, because what the hell. Even ritzy private schools at least try to maintain an air of objectivity when it comes to accepting children of wealthy patrons, even if it is a wink wink, nudge nudge admissions ritual. This is pretty much a "buy your child a seat," straight-up business proposal. A seat that is paid for by the taxpayers, no less. And NC is breaking new ground with this country club "members only" BS:

Thursday News: Drowning in the high-risk pool

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TRUMPCARE 3.0 BACK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY: The fortunes of the beleagured American Health Care Act changed on Wednesday when Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long of Missouri voiced their support for the bill after meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump. Upton and Long had previously opposed the legislation. Their amendment would add $8 billion to a proposed $115 billion pot of money that states could use to fund high-risk pools to provide health coverage for people with expensive medical conditions. But a new analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress estimates the new amendment would subsidize care for only 76,000 more people out of millions who have pre-existing medical conditions.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article148464289.html

NC's coast once again imperiled by offshore drilling

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These battles for the environment never seem to end:

President Donald Trump’s move last week to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans rekindles the debate over the viability of oil and gas drilling and seismic testing off the coast of North Carolina.

Trump’s executive order calls for the Department of Interior to return hundreds of miles of federal waters back to eligibility for offshore drilling, areas that were marked off-limits by the Obama administration just last year.

You know, I keep hearing people talking about how Trump's problems with Congress will keep them from doing too much harm, but it's not just Congressional Legislation we need to worry about. In fact, from the fossil fuel industry's point of view, controlling the Executive Branch is probably a hell of a lot cheaper and more effective in getting what they want than courting Senators and Representatives. Hijacking the EPA alone is worth billions to them, and that's not even counting BOEM, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, the FDA, USDA, etc. They can pretty much write their own ticket. And on the offshore drilling front, making a bunch of noise to disorient whales and dolphins and other critters is step #1:

Wednesday News: Introducing the Pittenger Award

NC CONGRESSMAN SUGGESTS PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS JUST MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE: U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger Tuesday defended his support of a provision in the Republican health care proposal that would let some states charge more for coverage of pre-existing conditions, telling reporters that “People can go to the state that they want to live in.” “Those who believe that big government, one-size-fits-all policies best serve the American people have trouble understanding legislation which protects those in need while giving states flexibility in how to meet those needs. Historically, individuals have relocated states because of tax advantages and other reasons. States are attractive for multiple policy interests.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article14...

On municipal budgets and property tax phobia

Our town manager presented his budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year last night:

Property taxes would rise to 54 cents per $100 of valuation. That equates to an additional $45 on a property valued at $150,000.

And in the process he stepped on that third rail and was lucky to get out of the room alive. It didn't help that we had just undergone property revaluations in both counties our little border town straddles, which could have allowed our elected officials the chance to knock a penny off the 51 cents we are currently assessing. Some of the things I heard last night (from a few Democrats, no less) were borderline absurd, such as "Whenever I talk to people, they say 'please don't raise my taxes'." Yeah, no shit. If you were expecting maybe to hear an occasional "please raise my taxes," I've got a bridge to sell you. We haven't had a property tax increase in twelve years, and our population has increased about 40% during that time. Yes, that means more revenue, but it also means more costs. More policing, more water and sewer maintenance, more cleaning up yard waste, etc. I thought the town manager (and the Police Chief, when he was asked) explained the needs very well, but that just brought about some angry and short-sighted comments about "things we don't need," with each elected official bringing up their pet peeves. Strangely enough, earlier in the day at the County Commissioners' meeting, a Republican made an argument I wish I had heard last night:

Tuesday News: 2017, year of the march

MAY-DAY MARCHES IN US MAINLY ANTI-TRUMP IN NATURE: May 1 is International Workers' Day and protesters from the Philippines to Paris celebrated by demanding better working conditions. But the widespread protests in the United States were aimed directly at the new president. Trump, in his first 100 days, has intensified immigration enforcement, including executive orders for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. "It is sad to see that now being an immigrant is equivalent to almost being a criminal," said Mary Quezada, a 58-year-old North Carolina woman who joined those marching on Washington. She offered a pointed message to Trump: "Stop bullying immigrants."
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article147781774.html

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