NC GOP

Misplaced priorities in NC GOP's education spending

Cutting their way to systemic failure:

The benefit of last year’s economic recovery to our public schoolchildren was nowhere near what it could have been. Changes to the state’s tax code “shrunk the pie” and left significantly less money available. How much less? Reductions in corporate income taxes alone reduced available resources by $450 million this year and $700 million next year. Even modest changes would have made it possible to fund many of the worthy education priorities that were instead left on the cutting-room floor.

Had a prolonged discussion yesterday with a young, professional Wake County father, and when NC's amazing population growth came up (we added a million residents in less than ten years), that led to a discussion about education spending, investments in infrastructure, etc. This guy was pretty sharp, yet when I brought up the possibility of a Taxpayer Bill Of Rights being passed (or put on a ballot), he had no idea what I was talking about:

McDonnell ruling could affect McCrory's legal fate

Birds of a feather do time together:

The Supreme Court indicated its interest in the case last fall by giving McDonnell, 61, a reprieve from reporting to prison while it considered whether to hear his appeal.

After the Supreme Court’s announcement Friday, McDonnell issued a statement thanking the court for accepting the case. “I am innocent of these crimes and ask the court to reverse these convictions. I maintain my profound confidence in God’s grace to sustain me and my family, and thank my friends and supporters across the country for their faithfulness over these past three years,” he said.

Pretty sure God had a few things to say about Mammon, moneychangers, and of course those thirty pieces of silver. But let's not go there. McDonnell's lawyers are approaching his defense from a few different angles, but most of it revolves around "everybody does it" reasoning. And McCrory is not just sitting in the sidelines watching. The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, of which our Governor is an influential member, filed this amicus brief in defense of McDonnell:

While Obama ponders free community college, NC raises tuition rates

Maybe the President should have pondered higher tuition:

The State Board of Community Colleges Finance Committee discussed a local tuition surcharge proposal Thursday afternoon. That proposal would give colleges the option to charge an additional amount on top of the state's tuition rate, but not greater than 10 percent.

"Our colleges, many of which feel like they are struggling to meet those student needs, and feel like this would be another tool for them to consider to better meet the needs of their communities,” said Haygood.

Bolding mine. In what twisted reality is taking more money out of students' pockets meeting their "needs"? If anything, it's just the opposite, especially now that single food stamp recipients are required to find a job or classwork for 20 hours per week. As far as "needs of the communities," those extra tuition dollars would have been spent locally, which means this will actually put a burden on local economies. This is just one more chapter in the Republican bible of shifting costs down; down to the local level, and down to the people who are struggling to survive.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy's new PR firm

coalashhand2.png

DEQ's "damage control" unit defends revised classifications:

State regulators say that a controversial early draft of classifications for Duke Energy’s (NYSE:DUK) coal-ash ponds in North Carolina was largely based on incomplete dam safety information and lacking key data about groundwater and soil conditions at the sites.

And the early draft leaned heavily on dam safety information that Rusher says was out of date. “Later, dam safety considerations were updated to include current and future structural repairs that would remove the threat that the dam presented to the environment and public safety,” he says. “Early versions of any draft documents during the development of the draft classifications are incomplete and are not inclusive of the most current data and information that was collectively considered.”

Bolding mine. These classifications are meant to describe the current condition of the dams, not some "forward-looking" statement for investors. A problem isn't fixed until it's fixed. And considering Duke Energy's history of negligence in dam safety, any promises they made to repair these dams is seriously in question:

More regressive sales taxes on NC's horizon

And the Taxed Enough Already crowd is strangely silent:

But the state still ranks 33rd in the sales tax category because North Carolina’s sales tax is not broad enough, according to the foundation. Republican Sen. Andy Wells of Hickory said that is a cause for concern.

“We’re still in the bad half of the country as far as sales tax,” he told Drenkard. “Can you give us ideas of things we could look at to get our sales tax ranking down?”

Let me translate that for you, because Republicans and their conservative "think" tanks have (once again) crafted a language all their own to describe their misplaced priorities: By "bad" half Andy means they haven't shifted the tax burden onto the shoulders of the poor and middle-class enough yet, and bringing our sales tax "ranking down" will actually entail increasing the sales taxes citizens will end up paying. Hope that helps.

DEQ's obfuscation and outright lies in battle with EPA

Unwilling to protect the environment, and inept at legal arguments:

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart told the federal agency it was wrong in its suggestion that citizen groups cannot challenge in court environmental permits issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Van der Vaart said those concerns are unfounded because the EPA appears to misunderstand what occurred in each case it referenced. In one case cited by the EPA, the North Carolina Attorney General argued, and the judge agreed, that the citizens had their day in court but failed to prove their case. In the second case referenced by the EPA, the Superior Court did provide access the special interest group.

Bolding mine, because that directly contradicts what Van der Vaart claimed in a previous statement on this issue:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The war on women turns Orwellian:

I long for the day when the New York Times no longer has a bi-weekly update on how backwards and misanthropic North Carolina has become. But as long as its happening, I'm glad they're paying attention.

GOP Hunger Games commence

Feed the hungry, but don't make it too easy for them:

Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week.

Sen. Norman Sanderson, a Republican from Pamlico County, said the change would push unemployed people on food stamps to look for work. “I think you’re going to see a lot of them go and get that 20-hour-a-week job, or they’re going to enroll in some sort of higher education to improve their job skills,” he said before the September vote.

And I think a lawmaker who takes food off somebody's table because he "thinks" something positive might happen as a result is a reckless ideologue, not a public servant.

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