June 23, 2009
RE: Continuing Resolution
Posted by Becki Gray at 10:36 PM
Here's the bill,
Senate Bill 311. Senate Bill 311 started out as an act to appropriate funds for special focus universities. Today the bill became Continuing Budget Authority. Since the bill filing deadline has long past, they
resorted to an old time trick - taking an existing bill, stripping the
existing language, then reinserting language to do whatever is they
want to do. Gets around those pesky rules.
Continuing resolution in Senate Appropriations
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:30 PM
The capital press corps are all atwitter over the Senate Continuing Resolution that will likely go to the floor today. Spending will be at an annual rate of about $18.2 billion.
The resolution will stay in place until a final budget passes - no date given. Could be a long time.
NC Film Incentives
Posted by Jacob Burgdorf at 3:24 PM
SB 943, a bill that would increase the current tax credit for film production from 15% to 25%, is being heard today for a second hearing in the Senate today at the 3:00 session. An Ernest and Young study commissioned by the NC Film Office examined the impacts of the proposed increase. Proponents of the credit would have you believe this is a great way to attract money and much needed jobs to the state, but a closer look shows it is not as good as it may seem. From the study:
[The] level of credit cost and the estimated state and local tax impact results in a combined state and local return on investment of 0.92 in 2010 and 0.91 in 2011. In other words, for each dollar of state credit cost, state and local taxes would increase by $0.92 in 2010 or $0.91 in 2011. Ignoring the local tax impact that results from the 25% credit rate, the state return on investment is projected to be 0.69 in 2010 and 2011.
Does the state really need to be making more bad investments right now?
[update] The Senate decided that we do: the bill passed the second reading 26-19.
I didn't realize just how old school we Lockeans really are
Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson, Jay Schalin at 1:21 PM
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be
curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work,
instead of living on public assistance." Cicero, 55 BC
Tax Credit for Children with Disabilities Debate
Posted by Becki Gray at 12:02 AM
The House Education Committee considers HB 687, Tax Credits for Children with Disabilities. Previous posts on the bill can be found here and here.
Bill sponsors, Rep Paul Stam (R Wake) and Rep Laura Wiley (R Guilford), also a former special education teacher, explain the $6,000 credit for parents to find other educational options if the public schools are not meeting the needs of their special needs children. Fiscal research estimates that 1 percent to 5 percent of eligible students will use the credit and predicts a $1.2 to $6.2 million a year savings to the state. This credit would address the inequality of parents who ALL want to do the best they can for their children but some can afford other options - some cannot.
Rep Susan Fisher (D Buncombe) asks about a cap on the amount of money that can be spent on a child with special needs within the public school system - how will this credit affect the childrens' allocation...special needs funding is capped at 12.5 percent of an LEA's average daily membership. Stam says under this bill schools will have more money per student.
NC Family Policy Council supports the bill.
NC Association of Educators oppose it, claims rights of students and parents are compromised, need to invest in the public school system. Loses all of their protections under federal law, private school teachers don't have qualifications that public school teachers have.
DPI's Mary Watson says students with disabilites have made great progress under public schools, IDEA federal law only applies to public schools, there would not be parent protection in private schools, the IEP determines the best placement for the student and can currently been moved to private schools if they decide it's needed . (No word on what the parents might think is best). Ms. Watson poses the question: "How will we know of the student's progress or their graduation rate?". I would ask what business is that of theirs? Shouldn't that be the parents' concern?
NC School Boards Association and NC Association of School Adminstrators oppose the credit for special needs children.
The debate seems to come down to this: The public school representatives believe they are in the position to make the best decisions for childrens' education; the bill sponsors believe parents are the best ones to make those decisions.
Vote on the bill: 21 yes; 26 no
The bill fails.
Special needs tax credits defeated in education committee
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:50 AM
This morning, the House Education Committee debated HB 687 - Tax Credit for Children with Special Needs.
Brittany Farrell of the NC Family Policy Council spoke in favor of the bill. She argued that parents should be given the resources necessary to send their special needs child to the school that best meets their needs.
The committee paused to discuss a bill written by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), SB 962 - Probationary Teacher Appeals. No, really, Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D - Buncombe) admitted that the NCAE drafted the bill. The bill moves to the Judiciary I Committee.
Sheri Strickland, president of NCAE, argued that parents and students would lose rights and due process (under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA) if they moved from the public schools to a school of choice. Ms. Strickland also claimed that private schools are not held accountable. (Note: state law requires private schools to administer standardized tests.)
Mary Watson, director of the Exceptional Children Division at DPI, Leanne Winner of the NC School Boards Association, and Catherine Joyce of the NC Association of School Administrators, apparently working from the same set of talking points, spoke in opposition to the bill.
House Minority Leader Skip Stam addressed questions about the number of students eligible for the tax credit. He points out that the state requires private schools to administer a standardized test, so accountability should not be a concern.
Rep. Avila asked Leanne Winner about the 350 special needs students currently transferred out of the public schools to private facilities. Avila argued that, if school systems had more money, they would transfer more than 350 students out of the public school system.
Rep. Womble argued that "everyone [NCAE, NCSBA, DPI, etc.] is on the same page" in opposition to the bill. Hint. Hint.
The bill does not pass. (Vote: 21 in favor and 26 opposed)
At $62,500 a day....
Posted by Becki Gray at 10:50 AM
The House J 3 Committee meets today to consider several bills including SB 138, Salvia Divinorum Unlawful. Salvie Divinorum is a mint plant that is widely used by landscapers as a ground cover. It is also smoked in Mexico as a hallucinogenic.
Bill sponsor Senator Bill Purcell (D Scotland) says driving a car or standing on a dorm room balcony could be dangerous when on the drug. 7 percent of college students have used it, it's not addictive, Purcell is aware of two suicides that may be related (40 yr old man smoked it and 10 min later shot himself and a teenager who used it several times a week killed himself). FDA has identified it as a drug of concern.
This bill would make it unlawful to manufacture, sell, deliver, or possess Salvia Divinorum in North Carolina. The first and second violation would simply be an infraction with a $25 fine. Third and subsequent violations would draw a Class 3 misdemeanor and is not punishable by imprisonment. However, “the possession, planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting of a plant strictly for aesthetic, landscaping, or decorative purposes" is exempt from any regulation.
Kind of begs the question of why have a law that includes a loophole so large as to render it worthless and unenforceable. If it's worth government intervention (and at a cost to the taxpayer of $62,500 for every day that the General Assembly meets) either do it right or leave it alone.
Rep Leo Daughtry (R Johnston) asks if the conferees putting the budget together are using Salvia. If so, I'm sure it's only for landscaping purposes.
Thirteen other states are banning the herb range from classifying it as a high level controlled substance to stricter enforcement. Ten states, including SC, have rejected proposals for regulatory control of Salvia.
The bill passes and goes to full House next. Another day, another $62,500.
$4.7 billion? $1.1 billion? You decide
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:31 AM
Legislative Republican leaders used their weekly news conference to make the case that the state's impending budget shortfall is much smaller than the figures Democrats have provided to most media outlets.
The standard description of the shortfall has consistently topped $4 billion in recent weeks, with a $4.7 billion figure used today in one major media report. Republicans contend the actual gap is much smaller: about $1.1 billion. They say that gap can be closed with cuts and does not necessitate tax increases.
Watch the 22:54 news briefing below for details.
Re: New TV ad on cap-and-tax
Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:17 AM
Roy, you mean Newt couldn't get Nancy Pelosi to go along and do another ad promoting joint solutions, sending people to places like wecansolveit.org for ideas? Maybe he could find two other polar opposites to help the cause.
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:06 AM
No need to raise taxes.
Also just learned about this site, nctaxhike.com
Transparency ideas and implementation
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:36 AM
Google offers two seemingly simple suggestions to government webmasters to improve the utility of their sites. First is to adopt standard Sitemaps xml tags. Second is to stop inadvertently blocking search engines' access to some pages. Each move will expand government transparency. (via Open House Project)
President Obama, however, is having problems just keeping his promise to make bills available online five days before he signs them into law.
Re: You can't fool all of the people all of the time
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:34 AM
Let's review. Bev's rallies have achieved the following:
1) They have made her appear to be a lackey of special interest groups like the NCAE.
"It was no accident that the governor began her speaking tour at the State Capitol before a gathering of teachers and NCAE activists. They represent a core constituency of the Democratic Party. They helped get Perdue and other Democrats elected last year. And they are mad, hopping mad, at the prospect of a 2009-10 state budget that increases class sizes, eliminates some teacher-assistant positions, and shaves some other educational expenses." (John Hood, Carolina Journal) 2) By most accounts, the rallies lacked substance.
"It seemed like it was just sort of a pep rally," said Ellis Harmon, a music teacher from Edgecombe County, who said he was worried about his pay being cut. "She didn't say anything specific." (News & Observer, Under the Dome) 3) The primary audience, public school teachers, saw through the hype.
(See also, these excerpts from the Governor's prepared remarks.)
"I think what's happened is we're couching it as for education, but honestly I think it's a way of getting taxes increased. I don't see it helping the educators," said Deborah Cotton, a teacher at Murray Middle School in New Hanover County. (News 14 Carolina).
NCAE's Whopper on Educator Cuts
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:00 AM
Talk about whoppers!
The NC Association of Educators (NCAE) has no business claiming that Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger made false claims about the severity of budget cuts on teacher positions.
NCAE estimates of teacher position reductions have magically increased over the last month or two, starting at the original DPI estimate of 6,000 positions and then increasing to 8,000 and then 10,000 and then 12,000 and perhaps 18,000 positions. (Note: The blog post containing the 18,000 position estimate was deleted due to errors by its author, a former NC Democratic Party employee).
Furthermore, the NCAE has been silent on the issue of natural attrition and turnover.
For a number of teaching positions that will be (or have been) eliminated, the NCAE fails to acknowledge that reductions in city and county budgets, not the state budget, is to blame.
The NCAE has not addressed reductions in teaching positions as it relates to the change in the school start date. The change will generate a healthy drop in student enrollment next year, necessitating fewer teachers.
The NCAE appears to conflate teachers and literacy coaches. Literacy coaches are not teachers. Literacy coaches are consultants that apparently teach teachers how to teach reading. The legislature should cut consultants and other non-instructional personnel.
What's the motive here? The NCAE is probably weary of attacking legislators that they have endorsed or supported (what I have called the NCAE Civil War). Thus, attacking a Republican probably makes them feel good.
The mainstream press finally notices the looming debt disaster
Posted by George Leef at 08:25 AM
At least the Canadian mainstream press -- here's an article in Macleans that favorably cites Peter Schiff and Brian Riedl on the looming federal debt disaster. Our wonderful, compassionate politicians have vastly over-promised on all manner of government goodies and the day of reckoning is close at hand.
You can't fool all of the people all of the time ... even public school teachers
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:24 AM
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the following passage during a News 14 Carolina story on the governor's continuing raise-taxes-for-education tour.
[S]ome teachers at the rally feel the governor's plan won't support education the way they'd like.
think what's happened is we're couching it as for education, but
honestly I think it's a way of getting taxes increased. I don't see it
helping the educators," said Deborah Cotton, a teacher at Murray Middle
School in New Hanover County.
Some feel there are other ways to save education in the state.
as it is can't sometimes afford their homes. I just think that we can
trim the fat, we may have to trim it real close, but there are
definitely places, even in public schools, that we can trim to keep
class size down," said Allison Gale, a teacher at Leland Middle School
in Brunswick County.
I wonder what Terry might think about this.
A ‘conservative manifesto’ on taxes
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AMSince it tops the New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list, Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny probably needs little introduction. I’ll spare you my review.
But I will point out one interesting piece. It’s section one of Levin’s 10-part “Conservative Manifesto.”
Eliminate the progressive income tax — replace it with a flat income tax or national sales tax — for its purpose is to redistribute wealth, not fund the constitutionally legitimate functions of the federal government.
All residents of the country must be required to pay the tax so they have a stake in limiting its abuse.
Eliminate the automatic withholding of taxes, for it conceals the extent to which the federal government is confiscating income from its citizens.
Eliminate the corporate income tax, for it is nothing more than double taxation on shareholders and consumers, and penalizes wealth and job creation.
Eliminate the death tax, for it denies citizens the right to confer the material value they have created during their lives to whomever they wish, including their family.
All federal income tax increases will require a supermajority vote of three-fifths of Congress.
Limit federal spending each year to less than 20 percent of the gross domestic product.
For a John Locke Foundation take on tax reform, see Roy Cordato’s recent report on the topic. Click play below to hear Roy discuss some key elements of real tax reform.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Joe Coletti's reaction to the latest unemployment news for North Carolina.
John Hood's Daily Journal analyzes a dispute involving real-estate developments affected by the path of a major Greensboro road project.
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