House Bill 120,Taxpayer Funded Municipal Elections was amended in the House to apply only to cities with more than 50,000 people. This means that smaller cities will be able to use their tax revenue for police and fire protection, water and sewer, libraries and parks and those kind of services. Larger cities will be using some of their tax revenue for politicians to run for city offices, paying for campaign expenses like yard signs, robo calls during dinner and video tapes, like John Edwards' girlfriend made for his campaign.
The bill is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on May 27. Here is a list of the cities with more than 50,000 people that would able to use their tax money for campaign expenses (and the Senators who represent the citizens of those cities):
The data is based on 2007 Population Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau and is expected to change when the new census is taken in 2010 so there may well be additional cities using public money for campaigns.
If you live in a small town and aren't on the list for now, be assured they will try to expand the program. They started this as a "pilot program" in Chapel Hill and are ready to expand it even though it is completely untested as Chapel Hill has yet to hold a publicly financed city election.
You may also hear them say that there is nothing to fear since the program is completely voluntary - city officials are authorized to put it in place. These are the same city officials who will be running for re-election. What are the chances of them NOT authorizing the use of taxpayer money to fund their campaigns? The taxpayer, the one who's paying the bill, has nothing to say about it, who the money will go to, or what positions it will support.
At least when John Edwards' girlfriend was paid to make campaign videos, the money came from donations willingly given by his contributors. They may not have liked it later but they gave that money willingly to a cause they believed in. Imagine if that money had been forcibly taken, used in violation of the contributor's principles and wishes, and with no available recourse. Don't imagine. It's exactly what will happen if House Bill 120 becomes law. Your tax money will go into the pockets of politicians to use as they choose, whether you like it or not.
If you think the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Tax energy bill is costly and accomplishes nothing for alleged global warming, then check out Menlo Park's (Calif.) climate plan. Even their city council admits as much.
We often joke — even if it's nervous laughter — about lawmakers voting on bills they've never read. Usually, we're talking about an ignorant lawmaker voting on a bill pushed by another lawmaker.
That's why it's disturbing to hear Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., admit he doesn't know the details of his own cap-and-trade bill. Cap-and-trade measures could cost North Carolina dearly in the years ahead, as the Beacon Hill Institute showed in a 2008 report.
Advocates tout the new "green" jobs associated with policies such as cap and trade, but Beacon Hill's David Tuerck explained why those claims are bogus.
According to Gallup's annual "moral acceptability" measure, updated in May, Americans have inched to the right on a handful of the 15 issues rated, including divorce, use of animal fur in clothing, gambling, and embryonic stem-cell research. Public opinion about the moral acceptability of the other items is essentially unchanged, with no significant increases in support for traditionally liberal positions.
The poll asked respondents what they considered "morally acceptable." Among other issues, it found an:
8 percent decline in support for divorce
5 percent decline in support for embryonic stem cell research
4 percent decline in support for abortion
2 percent decline in support for cloning humans
Support for the use of animal fur in clothing saw a 7 percent increase. Gallup concluded:
Americans' views about what is and isn't morally acceptable in today's culture have not changed dramatically over the past year. To the extent they have changed, they have moved slightly to the right on a handful of issues, almost entirely because of more pronounced conservative shifts among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. This is particularly evident with respect to lower Republican support for divorce and embryonic stem-cell research, and increased Republican support for the use of animal fur in clothing.
We have posted previously on House Bill 120, Publicly funded Municipal Campaignshere and here and here that expands taxpayer funded campaigns (already in place for judicial and some council of state candidates) to municipal elections in North Carolina's larger cities. Daren has written about the constitutionality of taxpayer funded campaigns here and here and Bradley Smith, former FEC chair spoke about the problems with compelling taxpayers to pay for campaigns of candidates they may vehemently disagree with. All good and persuasive arguments. However in addition, under the taxpayer funded campaign laws in North Carolina, if John Edwards had run for one of the seats qualified for this program, North Carolina taxpayers' money would have been used to pay his girlfriend to videotape his campaign. Is this what we want in North Carolina? If politicians want to pay their girlfriends, let them do it with their own money.
The bill passed in the House 60 to 52. Go here to see a list of who voted for and who voted against. The vote in the Senate has been delayed until May 27. Giving girlfriends time to take a video class?
The indispensable Checker Finn has a column in the Dallas Morning News explaining why universal preschool, funded by taxpayers, is neither a necessary nor wise component of an education-reform strategy based on sound research. He punctures four common myths:
1) Everybody needs it.
In fact, about 85 percent of 4-year-olds already take part in preschool
or child care outside their homes, paid for with a mix of public and
private dollars. And fewer than 20 percent of 5-year-olds are seriously
unready for the cognitive challenges of kindergarten in the No Child
Left Behind era.
2) Preschool is educationally effective.
On the contrary, while a few tiny, costly programs targeting very poor
children have shown some lasting positive effects, the overwhelming
majority of studies show that most pre-K programs have little to no
educational impact (particularly on middle-class kids) and/or have
effects that fade within the first few years of school.
3) Existing programs are shoddy.
Quality control is indeed patchy, and some operators do a lousy job.
But experts, leaders and providers in the field of early-childhood
education cannot agree on how to define and judge quality. Most often,
antiquated measures of spending, staff credentials and adult-child
ratios – i.e., "input" gauges – are used, rather than appraising the
kindergarten-readiness of these programs' graduates or sending
qualified observers to crouch in classrooms to assess the quality of
4) Head Start is terrific but doesn't serve enough kids.
If only. This iconic, much-loved federal program, now costing more than
$7 billion annually, has spent four decades denying that it's an
education program, refusing to embrace a pre-K curriculum and being
staffed by people – now a major interest group – many of whom are
themselves ill-educated (and ill-paid). Though its statute pays lip
service to "school readiness," Congress has forbidden Head Start to use
readiness measures to evaluate program effectiveness.
JLF's Terry Stoops has some specific observations about North Carolina’s well-publicized foray into government preschool intervention:
A state House member accused of drinking before speeding to work and embracing a teenage female page said Thursday he will quit the Republican Party after a three-decade political career after comments by fellow GOP legislators who participated in a probe of his conduct.
Rep. Cary Allred, R-Alamance, said next week would change his party registration from GOP to unaffiliated after being betrayed by fellow Republicans.
"If they don't like me they can go to hell," Allred said in a telephone interview.
As questions swirl around former Gov. Mike Easley’s air travel, real-estate deals, and other activity, Carolina Journal Executive Editor Don Carrington is watching closely. He offers his observations during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.
The General Assembly recently approved a new statewide smoking ban for restaurants, bars, and other places with public access. You’ll hear highlights from the legislative debate about the issue, along with a critique from Daren Bakst.
Another issue Daren has tracked closely is taxpayer funding of election campaigns. Former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith will join us to discuss that topic.
And Jane Shaw will discuss a critical question for the future of higher education: Are colleges more interested in their reputations than their education?