NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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Updated: 2 hours 12 min ago

EPA: Duke’s $102 million penalty should serve as a warning to others that “cut corners” (video)

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 11:50
Federal prosecutors says Duke Energy’s guilty plea and agreement to pay a record $102 million fine for seepage from its coal ash ponds should ‘speak loudly’ to other corporations that fail to protect the environment. EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles told reporters while the agreement requires Duke to comply with the law, they are no ...

Lax enforcement by state regulators may still be an issue in coal ash investigation

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 11:42
Duke Energy entered a guilty plea yesterday to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with coal ash contamination at several of its plants here, but the federal investigation may not be over, according to this report in the Charlotte Business Journal. U.S. Attorneys involved in the investigation would not confirm whether the investigation ...

Revenue surplus won’t solve state’s budget woes

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 09:57
Last week, state officials announced that revenues are estimated to come in $400 million above projections set by the state. This is good news for North Carolina, as we previously noted, but it’s important to remember that it is a relatively small boost that doesn’t come close to covering the cuts to services made since ...

North Carolina poised to limit exposés of workplace problems

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 09:35
One of the ALEC bills that is making the rounds across the country is so-called “ag gag” legislation, designed to prevent animal rights groups from conducting undercover operations to film abuses of animals on factory farms and research facilities. In North Carolina, the House has passed HB 405, the Property Protection Act. While not precisely ...

Enough is enough? Momentum builds to preserve common sense gun regulations

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 07:43
The folks running the North Carolina General Assembly may decide to buck public opinion yet again in the coming weeks and force through Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer’s legislation to put killing machines in the hands of more dangerous people, but one gets the sense that the momentum to stop such proposals and preserve some of the ...

Growth Lags in Tax Cutting States

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 16:31
Once again, sober analysis shows that tax cuts don’t create prosperity. A report out today looks at how states that cut personal income taxes have fared in the years that follow; the answer is, not that well. Bold promises about tax cuts are usually followed by harsh realities. Here are a few of the key ...

First take on the House budget: An inadequate proposal that’s likely to get worse

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:56
In case you missed it, be sure to check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File wherein Chris explains what’s really going on in the latest House budget proposal — part of which was unveiled today after having been written behind closed doors. As Chris notes in “A muddled start to the state budget dance”: ...

Highlights of the House education budget proposal

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 12:56
House lawmakers unveiled their 2015-17 biennial budget Thursday morning—and education proposals were longer on policy pitches than big figure changes, including measures that would affect student assessment & classroom staffing models as well as six different pilot programs aimed at teacher preparation, workforce development and remediation, among other ideas. The budget also did not include a much anticipated announcement ...

State House budget process has become a mockery of democratic governance

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:41
There were a lot of things that the Democrats did wrong while they were running the North Carolina General Assembly back in the day– especially in the state Senate — and many of them were highlighted at the time on this website. That said, the “process” now in use on Jones Street has degenerated since ...

House budget for courts: How it compares

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:40
The House released its proposed 2015-2017 budget this morning with some good news for the courts: an infusion of more than $18 million to finally bring the state judicial system into the digital age. That’s way more than the $5 million former Administrative Office of the Courts director John Smith requested for technology for in his February ...

Let’s hope uninsured South Carolina man and others learn lesson from liberals

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 07:26
News item from the Charlotte Observer: “The Fort Mill, S.C., Republican who went public Tuesday with his plea for help paying for sight-saving surgery had raised almost $12,000 by Wednesday evening – most of it from self-described liberals and Affordable Care Act supporters saying they hope he’s learned a lesson. That’s enough to ensure he ...

North Carolina’s April surprise mimics national trend, warrants caution

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 16:50
Policymakers are beginning to put the finishing touches on their budgets this week in the House. The Senate will soon follow.  While the April surprise has some thinking of investments in core services that are needed or, even more disturbing, proposing more tax cuts, a cautious approach is warranted.  Not only does the revenue announcement ...

The assault on higher education continues

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 16:27
In case you missed it earlier today, be sure to check out this new and sobering release from the Justice Center on the sorry state of North Carolina’s investment in higher education: North Carolina’s spending on higher education cut deeply since 2008 Shortchanging public universities and colleges reduces access to higher education, hurts economy RALEIGH ...

As Teaching Fellows program sunsets, educators ask: Where will tomorrow’s teachers come from? (Audio)

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:57
Education reporter Lindsay Wagner has a must read piece on NC Policy Watch’s main site today profiling one of the final college students to go through the highly-acclaimed NC Teaching Fellows program.  Here’s an excerpt from her story: Since its inception, the program has graduated in the neighborhood of 9,000 teaching fellows. Participants of the ...

Audit: DHHS’ Medicaid billing department wasted $1.6 million by overpaying temps, overtime

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 11:36
An audit released today showed that the state’s Medicaid billing department wasted more than $1.6 million in overpayments for temporary employees and excessive overtime, while its director hired close relatives and associates to work at the public agency. The former director of the Office of Medicaid Management Information Systems Services, identified by WRAL as Angie ...

State lawmakers lower the bar, profitable corporations get more tax cuts

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 11:20
The lesson this week in North Carolina is that when you dramatically lower expectations, you are bound to exceed them. Behind these low expectations is a state setting itself up for more cuts to things like schools and a slowed economic recovery. When North Carolina’s revenue this month came in a bit higher than the ...

WBTV: Big safety concerns thanks to state law loophole that fails to require charter school bus inspections

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 09:22
WBTV reported Monday that thanks to a loophole in state law, dozens of school buses serving students at charter schools in the Charlotte area go uninspected, prompting serious safety concerns. State law only requires that charter schools ensure transportation isn’t a barrier to a student attending their school. There is no requirement to offer transportation services. ...

Greensboro N&R columnist explains grisly details of gun proposal

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 08:04
[This post has been updated.] As explained in the post immediately below, the House Rules Committee was scheduled to take up a bill this morning to further liberalize North Carolina gun laws. Late last night, however, the meeting was, thankfully, cancelled. Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd explains this morning why the bill “is ...

Lack of process, public input on gun bill the latest outrage on Jones Street

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 16:40
As long as North Carolina is going regulate guns about as effectively as a broken down banana republic, it might as well pass laws in a similar way. That’s about the only conclusion that one can draw about the attitudes of the folks running the General Assembly after this afternoon’s announcement by North Carolina House ...

House prepares to fast track its budget

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 15:14
NC House Speaker Tim Moore hopes his chamber will pass its version of the state budget by the end of next week, in advance of the Memorial Day weekend. Moore sat down with reporters at the NC Insider Tuesday and hinted the spending package members will vote on likely next Wednesday and Thursday could include ...

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