Light bulbs & herring
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:01 PM
Those were just two of the topics on the mind of state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, this afternoon. Basnight's colleagues are expected to elect him Wednesday to an eighth term (15th year) as president pro tempore.
Basnight tied the discussion of incandescent light bulbs and disappearing herring to a broader discussion of environmental issues he'd like fellow lawmakers to address in the upcoming session. His goals include steps that would help reduce carbon output.
(If the headline still doesn't make sense, wait for the audio clip that I'll post a little later this evening.)
Among the other highlights of Basnight's annual pre-session meeting with media:
- He'll consider the session a "bit of a failure" if lawmakers fail to approve a long-term solution for counties' growing Medicaid bills.
- Governors and others ought to give up on the "One North Carolina" slogan; it's not true and won't be true.
- The transportation funding situation is a "wreck." The state needs to find a better way to deal with transportation needs.
- He'd like to see more reviews and audits of the system used to appropriate money.
- He supports at least some level of differential pay for schoolteachers. Basnight offered the specific example of paying more money for math and science teachers.
- He wants to look more closely at charter schools and how well they're performing, though he offered no predictions about raising the state's cap of 100 charter schools.
- A statewide school bond would be great for the counties, but Treasurer Richard Moore "is a pretty good Scrooge" (in a good way) in terms of warning lawmakers not to borrow too much money.
- He sees no need to continue with an elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction. "If we sense any warmness in the House" for bills designed to do away with that and other statewide elected positions, Basnight says he would be interested.
- He likes using special provisions in the state budget to pass major pieces of legislation such as the Clean Water Trust Fund and Smart Start.
- The lottery is not one of his priorities, so he's not offering any recipe for tweaking the current lottery formula.
- He doesn't like the state's current school testing program. Basnight would prefer a test or tests that allow North Carolina to compare its kids to those in other states.
- The Senate would probably like a plan that involves creating an Earned Income Tax Credit.
- He doesn't see much hope this year for major tax reforms resulting from a study commission led by his ally Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston.
- Likely N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, is a "prince of a guy."
We'll post some audio in the Locker Room a little later.
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