Carolina Journal Weekly Report

August 13, 2005

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of August 13, 2005 -

Reaction of the Week

The state budget plan that passed the General Assembly last week levies another big tax increase to pay for excessive spending — and clearly busts Gov. Mike Easley’s spending cap, said the author of a John Locke Foundation analysis.

Joe Coletti, fiscal policy analyst at the Raleigh-based think tank, observed in a new Spotlight briefing paper that the budget plan would spend $17.2 billion on General Fund programs in 2005-06, representing an 8 percent increase over the previous year. Easley’s spending cap, which limits annual growth in the General Fund to a 10-year average of personal-income growth, would allow a 5.6 percent increase in 2005-06.

Coletti said that while the final budget package spends hundreds of millions of dollars more next year than either the House or Senate initially proposed, it still offers paltry raises to state employees and fails adequately to fund high-priority needs such as the state’s overburdened court system.

Instead, he noted, it sprinkles pork-barrel projects across the state and allows excessive spending in fast-growing state programs such as Medicaid and corporate subsidies. Funding for the Commerce Department and related agencies jumps by a staggering 78 percent, while community colleges see a 14 percent increase and the University of North Carolina 11 percent.

News Features

Moore sought gifts to his nonprofit
RALEIGH — State Treasurer Richard Moore has solicited contributions from private money managers who do business with his agency for a nonprofit foundation he created to help North Carolinians become better at managing their money. Moore recently asked dozens of fixed-income brokers, real estate investors, private equity managers and hedge-fund managers for $10,000 each for the foundation, a project that helps keep him in the public eye.

State grappling with issue of illegals
WASHINGTON — Opposing sides in the debate over which direction U.S. immigration policy should take often seem to speak different languages. They are unable to agree on whether immigrants, especially those in the country illegally, represent a threat to national security or a boon to the nation's economic and cultural well-being. A person who is an "illegal alien" to some is an "undocumented worker" to others.

Lawsuit takes on judicial election financing
RALEIGH — A Court of Appeals judge and an anti-abortion group sued Monday over North Carolina's public financing system for judicial races, arguing the rules limit free speech and put candidates who don't participate at a disadvantage. Judge Barbara Jackson, who was elected last November, and North Carolina Right-to-Life filed the class-action lawsuit in Greensboro federal court, according to the clerk's office there.

State economic growth hasn’t recovered
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s economy has not caught up to the pace of growth experienced prior to the 1999-2001 recession. The Gross State Product rose to an estimated value of $335 billion this year — a 6.3 percent increase. In the three years leading up to the recession, the state’s economy expanded by about 7.7 percent a year, according to figures compiled by the Department of Revenue. The post-recession average, by contrast, stands at about 5.5 percent.

Atkinson backed in vote dispute
RALEIGH — North Carolina's new public school superintendent is all but sure to be Democrat June Atkinson, who won the backing Tuesday of a divided legislative committee. The full General Assembly, which has 14 more Democrats than Republicans, is expected soon to declare Atkinson the winner of fall's disputed statewide election for superintendent of public instruction -- the nation's last undecided statewide race from the 2004 elections.

House approves new lobbying rules
RALEIGH — People who lobby the General Assembly and top executive branch officials would have to file disclosure reports more often in a bill that cleared the House on Thursday night. The measure, approved by a vote of 99-3, would require lobbyists and their principals to report any expenditures above $10. Legislative lobbyists, including those who lobby for state agencies, would have to file monthly reports while the General Assembly is in session, and quarterly otherwise.

Upcoming Events

Monday, August 15, 2005 at 12 Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Bernie Reeves
"Hollywood Communists, Radical Scholars, Chinese Espionage Among Subjects for Third Raleigh Spy Conference"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 at Noon
A Headliner Luncheon
with our special guest Dr. Larry Schweikart
"A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror"

Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 12 Noon
Headliner Luncheon
with our special guest Donald Alexander Downs
Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

They're going to cut back on the employees' hours; they're going to lay off employees; they will increase the price of their items to the consumers to help cover the increase of that cost.
Gregg Thompson, director of the NC chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, as quoted by the Associated Press discussing how some business owners could respond to a bill awaiting full legislative approval to increase the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6 an hour.

We’re getting the gas tax money at the pump, we’re sending it to Washington, and then we’re having Congress telling states where to spend this money instead of state and local officials who know where the real transportation needs are.
Steve Ellis with the federal budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense as quoted by The Star-News of Wilmington responding to the $286 billion federal transportation legislation passed this week that includes almost 6,500 specific projects, which Ellis and many others consider little more than pork.

It's a very, very tough market.
— Show promoter Tim Roberts as quoted by The Fayetteville Observer in a story detailing the struggle many smaller North Carolina cities are encountering as they compete with cites such as Charlotte and Raleigh to host concerts and other entertainment shows. Fayetteville's convention arena, The Crown Center, spent almost $200,000 this year subsidizing such illusive events.

The state has existed for 229 years. It can make it until May.
— Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, as quoted by The Charlotte Observer explaining that any legislation that remained undecided this week, except for the state budget, could wait until lawmakers return next year. 

We love to argue whether eastern North Carolina has the best pork or western North Carolina has the best pork. We've answered the question. The Legislature has the best pork.
— Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, as quoted by the Associated Press reacting to the 100 one-time projects or grants added into the state budget.

Absolutely not - nowhere in there. Scout's honor.
— House Speaker Jim Black as quoted by the Winston-Salem Journal responding to being asked if the budget included money to continue to pay for former representative Mike Decker's job with the Department of Cultural Resources.

We're not doing cartwheels, but we're pleased.
— Southern Pines Pilot publisher David Woronoff as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer responding to legislation that cleared the House Commerce Committee this week to allow more public access to economic development deals negotiated by the state. The NC Press Association sued for withholding such information and has lobbied for a stronger version of the public access bill.

Shuffling them around on a bus may not be the answer… You can’t take Halifax County and move it to Wake County.
— Judge Howard Manning Jr, as quoted by The Charlotte Observer, questioning whether court-ordered busing is the answer to solve the state’s educational wows. Manning is overseeing the Leandro lawsuit about equity in school funding.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
Port security expert Hugh Stephens will discuss the War on Terror here in North Carolina with a look at security at the state's two largest ports - Morehead City and Wilmington. Next, executive director of the NC chapter of the ACLU Jennifer Rudinger will discuss her group's lawsuit against the state to allow witnesses to swear court oaths on the Koran and other religious texts besides The Bible. Then, John Locke Foundation policy analyst George Leef will discuss his recently released book Free Choice for Workers: A History of the Right to Work Movement. George will shed some light on the deep history of many North Carolinian workers actually fighting unionization in the state. And last, NC State University economist Mike Walden will take a look at late summer gas prices and the overall economic state of North Carolina.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. This week panelists will discuss the final legislative passage of a state budget and other legislation that made its way through the General Assembly this week. This week's panel includes: former State Auditor, Ralph Campbell; Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch;  John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation; and former House Speaker, Joe Mavretic.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Viewers can tune in to host Monty Knight as he is joined by Carolina Journal's Donna Martinez and The Carolinian's Cash Michaels for another round of At Issue, a weekly round-up of news and issues facing the Triangle area and state.


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