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Stories and voice that matter | A blog from NC Policy Watch
Updated: 36 min 23 sec ago

State Supreme Court Chief Justice makes call for judicial merit selection instead of elections

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 15:27

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin called on the General Assembly today to introduce a constitutional amendment to change judicial elections to a judicial merit selection process. He made remarks today at the North Carolina Bar Association’s annual meeting in Asheville. “Now I know that there’s never a good time to talk about merit ...

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The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 14:55

1. Don’t be misled by the headlines or the spin; the final budget is far worse than it looks Most of the initial headlines about the final budget agreement announced Monday afternoon by legislative leaders were ones they could have written themselves, touting raises for teachers and state employees, a cost of living increase for ...

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Expert: Final state budget disregards NC’s growing needs, uncertainty of Trump budget (video)

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 14:06

Coming-up this weekend on News &Views with Chris Fitzsimon, we sit down with NC Budget & Tax Center (BTC) director Alexandra Sirota to discuss the winners and losers of this year’s joint budget agreement. Sirota notes that elimination of funding for Legal Aid services and the failure to help Eastern North Carolina fully recover from ...

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This Week in Pollution: Randolph Packing cattle slaughter plant in Asheboro fined $48,000

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 13:25

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined Randolph Packing, a cattle slaughter plant in Asheboro, $48,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act. According to a consent agreement with the company, Randolph Packing had violated the terms of its federal wastewater discharge permit for five years. From 2011 to 2016, the company discharged “industrial stormwater” into ...

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Medicaid is the single largest source of care for Americans with mental health, substance abuse disorders

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 12:42

The N.C. House and Senate have voted through their joint budget and it does not strengthen Medicaid nor call for its expansion to help the most vulnerable North Carolinians. At the same time, the closely guarded U.S. Senate health care bill written entirely behind closed doors is finally out and it too does not strengthen ...

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Final budget plan ignores past promises and irresponsibly underfunds teacher salary plan

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 08:45

North Carolina’s General Assembly leadership likes to tout its record of “fiscal responsibility.” A closer look at the 2017 budget’s teacher pay plan, however, shows that the salary plans are dangerously underfunded. Under-funding a $5.3 billion line-item is the opposite of fiscal responsibility. The General Assembly has budgeted $101.7 million to implement its 2017-18 salary ...

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Editorial: GOP budget proposal is “monument to bad management”

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 07:21

This morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com (“New NC budget – poor management, failed responsibilities, missed opportunities”) offers a scathing and sadly accurate takedown of the new state budget proposal sent by state lawmakers to Governor Cooper yesterday. “Try all they want. Spin gullible reporters, political partisans and unsuspecting citizens all they can. Desperately ...

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Advocates warn budget’s K-12 grading reforms could harm schools, communities

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 16:30

Republican-authored state budget reforms to North Carolina’s school performance grading system have the potential to harm local schools and their communities, public education advocates are warning this week. As Policy Watch reported on Tuesday, a controversial budget provision tucked into the state legislature’s now approved spending deal (page 68 of the bill) will, beginning in ...

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Update: DEQ posts map, permits and info about ongoing GenX investigation

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 16:01

The NC Department of Environmental Quality will test water from 12 locations in and near the Cape Fear River for GenX, an unregulated contaminant found in Wilmington’s drinking water. The sampling sites include the Chemours outfall near Fayetteville, a well in Wrightsville Beach and water treatment plants in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties. DEQ ...

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The Senate version of Trumpcare: Worse than we’d imagined

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 14:36

Reporter Amanda Michelle Gomez at Think Progress has the latest in a story entitled “Senate’s health care bill shreds Medicaid and essential health benefits, and more”: “Any hopes that Senate Republicans would moderate their House colleagues’ health care bill were dashed on Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) finally unveiled his chamber’s long-awaited ...

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Former Wilmington mayor: “We’re here to express our outrage” over GenX contamination in drinking water, Cape Fear

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 13:46

J ust steps outside the door of the Coastline Conference Center in Wilmington, the Cape Fear River moseys on its last 35 miles of its journey to the Atlantic Ocean. But the 300-plus people inside the conference center no longer trust the Cape Fear as their source of clean drinking water. GenX, an unregulated contaminant, ...

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Price tag for tax cuts in final budget tells half the story

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:26

The Locke Foundation was having fun with math yesterday in an effort to defend a fiscally irresponsible package of tax cuts in the final budget lawmakers are close to approving. Why? because—wait for it—they would like you to think they haven’t just given another green light to tax cuts that further pump up the gains ...

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NC government will give $300K in public funds to religious anti-abortion advocacy group

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 11:21

It’s bad enough that North Carolina lawmakers are preparing to give a bunch of money to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that mislead women by implying that they provide actual health care when their entire mission is to convince them to carry their pregnancies to term, no matter what the circumstances of the pregnancy or health ...

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Standards and accountability lose as earmarks proliferate in budget deal

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 16:44

By a conservative count, there are over $32 million in earmarked special projects funded in the conference budget being debated this week. After years of railing against patronage and backroom deals, House and Senate leadership have suddenly become big fans of earmarking funds for legislator’s pet projects back home. This list of projects is just ...

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Ashe County sheriff investigates employees for trying to fulfill public info requests

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 15:25

Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan is investigating three employees for trying to fulfill a public records request for text messages from his county-issued phone. From a report from WBTV: The request was the subject of a nearly ten-minute rant by Buchanan at a commissioners meeting in mid-April, weeks after the request was submitted. “We don’t ...

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Final budget a mixed bag of give, take, and disregard for courts and public safety

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:30

The final budget released by state leaders this week includes a mixed bag of give, take, and neglect in regards to public investments that promote safe and healthy communities. At the same time that public investments are made for particular initiatives of interest, lawmakers cut state funding and totally neglect boosting public investments in other ...

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Failed tax-cut experiment will continue under final budget agreement, pushes fiscal reckoning down the line

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 11:45

The final budget agreement from leaders of the House and Senate puts North Carolina on precarious fiscal footing in the second-half of the second fiscal year of the two-year budget and beyond.  The tax changes that leaders agreed to—which were less a compromise and more of a decision to combine the tax cuts in both ...

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More bad environmental news in the budget: Clean Water Management Trust Fund takes an 18% hit

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 11:19

At first glance the budget line item for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund looks generous by this legislature’s standards: $18 million. But the legislature’s largesse was not so large. The appropriation is down 18 percent from 2016, when lawmakers appropriated $22.4 million to the trust fund.  Gov. Roy Cooper included $25 million in his budget ...

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North Carolina’s leaders are abandoning the victims of Hurricane Matthew

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:00

If you have been following North Carolina’s response to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, then you know it has been a slow and, at times, disappointing process. If not, here’s a refresher: On Oct. 8, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on North Carolina. The resulting flooding impacted 50 counties in the Eastern part of ...

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