NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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Updated: 1 hour 52 min ago

BREAKING: First look at House’s proposed HB2 amendments is not encouraging

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 15:11
Reporter Nick Ochsner of WBTV is reporting that leaders of the North Carolina House have put together a draft bill that would seek to walk back some of the state’s internationally derided LGBT discrimination law known as HB2. A preliminary look at the draft, however, offers little encouragement that anything truly meaningful will ultimately result. ...

First look at the Health and Human Services Budget in the joint budget agreement

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 14:07
The joint budget relies on two particular sources of dollars for narrow expansions to targeted programs and services that promote the health and well-being of North Carolinians through Health and Human Services. The first is the $318 million reduction in Medicaid that   is largely due to projections that suggested the demand for Medicaid services would ...

Lowlights of General Assembly’s education budget proposals

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 12:16
The General Assembly’s Conference Committee budget proposal (special provisions can be found here; changes to funding can be found here) contains a number of education proposals that are worth highlighting: Opportunity Scholarship voucher program:  The conference proposal combines the changes that were included in both the House and Senate versions of the budget.  That is, ...

State budget compromise offers teacher raises but expands controversial private school voucher program

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 12:01
A $22.34 billion budget compromise by GOP leaders in the N.C. General Assembly includes a nearly 5 percent raise for teachers, but also bundles in a laundry list of conservative wishlist items sure to rankle Democrats and public school advocates. The plan, announced by state Senate and House lawmakers late Monday, includes an average 4.7 percent raise ...

Follow the Money: How the joint budget is funded

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 11:50
Last night, the House and Senate held a press conference, and they subsequently released their joint budget agreement, which will be voted on over the next week or so in both chambers. The final budget holds to the rigid formula of population plus inflation, spending only $22.3 billion to operate core public services, as well ...

N.C. Senate one vote away from approving charter takeover of low-performing schools

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 09:19
North Carolina Senate lawmakers have moved one vote away from approving a controversial bill clearing the way for a charter takeover of a handful of low-performing schools. House Bill 1080, the product of long negotiations over the fate of some of the state’s most chronically under-performing schools, is due for one final vote in the ...

Last minute attacks on civil liberties advance at General Assembly

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 09:08
We must be getting close to the end of the 2016 legislative session because, as has become an annual phenomenon, state lawmakers are doing the worst to rush through bills that would undermine civil liberties. A pair of statements released late yesterday by the folks at the ACLU of North Carolina explain, respectively, the latest ...

Senate, House reach budget deal, rush to approve $22.34 billion plan (video)

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 07:55
The state Senate will take the first vote today on a $22.34 billion budget compromise. House and Senate leaders offered highlights of the spending plan in a Monday evening press conference, with the corresponding documents not being made available until hours later. The budget compromise is now available here. The budget’s money report is here. ...

Statement from Budget & Tax Center Director Alexandra Sirota on final state budget

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 20:30
All of the state budget proposals this year have fallen short of what it will take to get North Carolina back on track. The final budget agreement appears to be no exception based on the press conference releasing topline details this evening. Rather than respond to what families, communities and the economy need to thrive, policymakers ...

Statement from Alexandra Sirota on tentative approval of HB3 in Senate

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 17:11
House Bill 3 represents a deep confusion about the role of Constitutions in our lives. Constitutions are overall frameworks for governing, not the place for public policy choices to bind future generations. That’s why we elect leaders: to debate and decide what makes sense to do today to make our communities work better and our ...

Improving North Carolina’s charter school oversight policies

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 15:39
Oversight of low-performing charters is a pressing issue in North Carolina.  In the 2014-15 school year, 13% of charter schools received a school performance grade of F, compared to only 6% of traditional schools.  Historically, political pressures from the General Assembly have made it difficult for the State Board of Education to close failing charter ...

A constitutional amendment on hunting and fishing? Why not baseball, bird watching and bowling?

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 15:14
If you needed compelling evidence that past it’s time for North Carolina lawmakers to end the 2016 session and get the heck out of town, consider the fact that the state Senate is seriously considering an amendment to the state Constitution to guarantee the right to hunt and fish. As syndicated columnist Patrick Gannon explains ...

HB3’s Rainy Day Fund provisions aren’t going to save NC from fiscal challenges

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 13:54
Among the various changes to the state Constitution proposed in House Bill 3 are a series of Rainy Day Fund provisions that reflect unnecessary and counterproductive limits to the ability of lawmakers to use these savings to protect North Carolina communities and families from the brunt of a natural disaster or an economic downturn. The ...

Anti-immigrant bill would give Attorney General unchecked power to yank school construction, transportation funding

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 12:01
The Senate Appropriations committee gave its blessing to a bill that would give the Attorney General nearly unchecked power to withhold state funding for local school construction projects and road construction and repair. If HB 100 passes as written, a single state official would have the power to cut off funding for your child’s education ...

Changes to the state Constitution headed to the Senate floor

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 11:17
The Senate Rules Committee gave approval to a suite of constitutional changes that would undercut our state’s economy permanently by setting a low, arbitrary income tax rate and limiting access to the state’s savings in times of emergency. It is an entirely unnecessary move that seeks to permanently limit future budget choices to the ones ...

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion restrictions

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 10:39
Abortion rights advocates are declaring a victory today after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down (in a 5-3 ruling) Texas abortion restrictions that required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Texas rules also required that clinics must meet hospital-like standards, prompting several clinics in the Lone Star State ...

The best op-ed of the weekend: A devastating ten point indictment of state lawmakers

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 07:23
In case you missed it over the weekend, Professor Gene Nichol’s essay in Raleigh’s News & Observer (“Making the case that lawmakers are destroying North Carolina”) is an absolute “must read.” In it, Nichol provides a scathing 10-point indictment of the performance of state leaders in recent years. Here’s #1-5: “When I read the other ...

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch:

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 16:01
#1 – Ending discrimination is more important than ending the session It’s that time of the General Assembly session when legislative leaders are talking about adjourning and leaving town. House Speaker Tim Moore said this week that the odds are 50-50 that the session will end before July 4th while Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown ...

Senate committee approves controversial charter takeover of low-performing schools

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 14:06
With just days remaining in the N.C. General Assembly’s short session, leaders on the Senate Education Committee have given their approval to achievement school districts, a GOP-backed model of school reform that may clear for-profit charter takeovers of low-performing schools. Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won ...

Prominent physician skewers McCrory administration’s disastrous Medicaid policies

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 10:55
If you missed it this morning, be sure to check out the fine op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer by Robert Bilbro, the  head of Raleigh Medical Group. As Bilbro points out, the McCrory administration’s two overarching policies toward Medicaid (i.e. refusing to close the coverage gap for hundreds of thousands of people in need ...

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