The end of tax-free weekend, McCrory’s education numbers don’t add up, Charlotte Airport takeover blocked by judge, Kay Hagan takes #NCGA leaders to task, U.S. House Republicans in budget bind, sparks fly in U.S. Senate in McConnell vs. Collins transportation showdown, recently announced Arkansas Senate challenger votes against student loans he used to pay for law school, McCain’s Hillary vs. Paul dilemma
WRAL: Final tax-free weekend begins; retailers worry about future
The N.C. General Assembly repealed the sales tax holiday as part of a tax overhaul plan approved in July by lawmakers. The president of the N.C. Retail Merchants Association said Thursday that he thinks shoppers will head across the borders to Virginia, South Carolina and other states in 2014 to complete their shopping lists without worrying about sales tax. "The challenge will be even greater for us without the sales tax holiday," Wertz said. "We’re going to be challenged to keep our prices low because customers will need that more than ever."
Winston-Salem Journal: Shoppers gear up for final sales tax holiday
It wasn’t long ago that North Carolina residents hoping to strike it rich through a lottery would hop in their cars and drive to Virginia or South Carolina. With North Carolina shoppers on the verge of their final sales tax holiday, the president of the N.C. Retail Merchants Association thinks consumers looking for bargains on specific items will do the same thing those lottery players did and head across the borders with their shopping lists in 2014. "We believe people will flock from Charlotte to the outlets in Gaffney," said Andy Ellen in an interview Thursday. "That’s one worry for the retail side as well as for the state."
WRAL: Tax reform could raise ticket prices at movies, sporting events
Though it lowers corporate and personal income taxes, tax reform in North Carolina will bring higher taxes on entertainment next year – meaning state and local governments will take bigger bite out of tickets for live concerts, plays and sporting events. State and local sales taxes are replacing the privilege taxes already included in ticket prices. That could raise the cost of a $7.50 Durham Bulls ticket by about 55 cents or add an extra $4.37 on to a $60 college football ticket. For an $80 concert ticket, the increase adds up to about $5.80. "Whatever they do to lower one thing to make you feel better, they end up getting it whatever way they want to get it anyway," said David Whitt, who was out for a movie at Mission Valley Cinema in Raleigh Thursday.
The Progressive Pulse: McCrory claims NC education budget largest in history (Fact check)
Gov. Pat McCrory unveiled his latest vision for public education this morning at the NC Chamber of Commerce’s Education Summit. The plan includes a $30 million “Education Innovation Fund” that would come from federal Race to the Top grant money and a call to reduce excessive testing. McCrory also reiterated his belief that funding for North Carolina’s public education system was not cut in the budget he signed into law last week. Beginning with an assertion that protestors and newspaper writers are wrong about the facts around the education budget, McCrory said that “at $7.8 billion, this is the largest K-12 budget in North Carolina’s history.” Actually, that’s not at all an accurate representation of what the education budget looks like.
WRAL: Lee trustees say new law unconstitutional
Four members of the Board of Trustees of Central Carolina Community College have filed suit against a new law that terminates their positions on the board effective August 1st. The four terminated trustees – Janet Hayes, Tony Lett, Chet Mann, and Chip Post – say the law unfairly targets the appointees of the county’s Democrat-led school board, while leaving in place four trustees similarly appointed by the Republican-led Lee County Board of Commissioners. One of plaintiffs, Chip Post, says the law doesn’t serve any legitimate governmental interest. "It’s just arbitrary and capricious. It’s just designed to get in the face of our local school board."
Asheville Citizen Times: Appalled by legislature’s moves on education
I am angry about how the legislature (and House Speaker Thom Tillis) is going to spend my tax dollars on education. The two things that research has shown affects a child’s classroom learning the most are the effectiveness of the teacher and the number of children per teacher. Everything the North Carolina legislature has done has diminished those two things. Vouchers, low wages for teachers, reduction in teacher and teacher aide workforce, increases in number of students per classroom, the dissolution of tenure and reductions in funding for public universities and colleges where funding is inappropriately connected to job creation in the private sector are a few of the misguided ideas that the legislature has enacted or considered enacting.
Charlotte Observer: N.C. commerce officials say proposed fracking tax would be used to fund corporate tax incentives
The administration of Gov. Pat McCrory is pushing a proposed tax on fracking as a substantial piece of its economic recovery strategy, with key Republicans saying it would raise millions for financial incentives to recruit companies or help them expand in North Carolina. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said this week the state’s biggest competition in luring business is from Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry has what she called a “big slush fund,” financed by energy taxes, to spend on recruiting companies there. Decker told the group she wants a similar piggy bank here and that “energy partners” are ready to “provide us with the money” in a climate where increasing traditional funding streams for incentives, such as income and corporate taxes, isn’t likely. She said the money would be used to lure major projects to the state.
News & Observer: NC judge issues injunction to stop Charlotte airport takeover
A North Carolina judge is issuing an injunction preventing the state from stripping Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the city until the Federal Aviation Administration weighs in on the issue. Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin’s ruling Thursday is the latest development in Charlotte’s legal fight to maintain control over the airport, which it has run for more than 70 years. The Charlotte City Council is challenging the General Assembly’s move to give day-to-day operations of the airport to a new commission.
Charlotte Observer: Cookies, Governor Pat?
Last Friday, I believed that Governor Pat McCrory was a mature adult who could make educated decisions. That he would read and discuss the bills put before him and consider their effects on real people’s lives. That he would consult with experts on both sides. Instead, he went out of his way to insult the protesters. Monday night after he signed the abortion restrictions into law, he waved at the many protesters from his balcony. Then, just after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, he and his bodyguards brought a tray of cookies to us. Seriously. He gave them to one of the younger women in our crowd and she tried to give them back. He doesn’t understand that cookies are not the answer. He should have talked to us weeks ago.
Politico: DNC chair looks to leverage money into power
Debbie Wasserman Schultz spent 18 months slogging through 885 events in 31 states to boost President Barack Obama’s chances for reelection. Now, she is planning to employ the nearly unrivaled Rolodex she’s built to turn it into political muscle in the Capitol — for herself. Wasserman Schultz’s political team explicitly said her goal this cycle is to give away as much money as Hoyer — $2.5 million — which would position her to be one of the party’s biggest ATMs and a player, if she wants. “I don’t really do anything halfway,” Wasserman Schultz told POLITICO in an interview at DNC headquarters. “We thought with the higher profile I have at the DNC, and the donor relationships I’ve been able to build — and thankfully, a lot of people who want to help me be successful, because we share the same goals. We kind of put the leadership PAC on steroids. That’s the best way to describe it.”
WRAL: Hagan touts tax credits, criticizes state leaders
In an interview with WRAL today, North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan said Republican state lawmakers are under-funding education and trying to suppress the vote. Hagan spoke with reporters today to promote her work to preserve the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The Senate Finance Committee is reportedly considering repealing those credits as part of its work on tax reform. Hagan said the federal credits are especially important to North Carolina’s military families. She says 64,000 claimed one or both credits last year. Asked about the state tax reform initiative recently passed by Republican lawmakers, Hagan says she’s concerned about its impact on lower and middle-income families. She said it will also diminish the state’s ability to give raises to teachers.
Fayetteville Observer: Sen. Hagan says: Keep tax credits for lower-paid soldiers
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan last week asked the Senate Finance Committee to keep two tax credits in place for military families, if not for the general public as a whole. She said one in four military or veteran families with children, 1.5 million such families nationwide, use either the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit. About 280,000 have one parent in service now, her office said. “Our military takes on the ultimate responsibility of protecting our nation, yet many military families struggle to make ends meet, especially veterans after military service,” Hagan said in a letter dated July 26. Hagan wants to keep the credits in place for all lower-wage working families, Moon said, “but because there are so many current and former military families in North Carolina, she wanted to raise this particular issue with the Committee. Over the last ten years, we have asked more and more of our soldiers and their families, and eliminating these tax credits they depend on to get by is no way to repay them for their service.”
New York Magazine: House Republicans and the Limits of Crazy
Yesterday, the House of Representatives pulled a bill from the floor for lack of votes — the sort of scrambling chaos that occurs routinely in the chamber where John Boehner presides like a trembling child monarch. But this defeat was different. The bill concerned the funding of housing and transportation programs, though its failure represented more than just a programmatic setback, or even a setback for the Republican economic strategy writ large, but the potential ruin of its entire posture toward Obama. Since taking control of the House two and a half years ago, Republicans have fomented a series of crises that seemed to have no end in sight, explicitly refusing to negotiate with Obama and implicitly denying his legitimacy as president. The crumbling of that wall is far from certain, but yesterday a wide crack opened up.
The Dish: The GOP Calls Its Own Fiscal Bluff
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the current GOP’s refusal to do anything but propose to slash spending is that “propose” is all they really want to do. They cannot actually stomach the actual cuts their abstract ideology demands. And so what happened yesterday, when the House leadership suddenly yanked a bill slashing transportation and housing spending, is of a piece with the growing incoherence on the right.
The Hill: House GOP drafting new food stamp bill with $40B in cuts
House Republicans are drafting legislation that would cut $40 billion from the federal food stamp program over 10 years. That’s nearly double the $20.5 billion in cuts that were included in the farm bill legislation that failed on the House floor in June. The top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee on Thursday said the new House GOP plan would make a compromise on the farm bill impossible. "Adding an additional $20 billion in nutrition cuts, on top of the poison pill nutrition amendments that brought down the Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan farm bill in June, effectively kills any hopes of passing a five-year farm bill this year" Rep Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said.
Politico: Senate THUD battle pitted Mitch McConnell against Susan Collins
The competing agendas between two of the Senate’s leading Republicans burst into the open Thursday as an almost-united GOP sank the chamber’s fiscal 2014 transportation spending bill. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the panel that wrote the $54 billion transportation bill, appeared to grope for an explanation for why Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) worked so hard to kill her legislation. Asked if McConnell’s upcoming primary fight with a tea party challenger might have something to do with the pressure, Collins told POLITICO: “I can’t speculate on why. All I can tell you is he has never worked harder against a member of his own party than he did against me today.”
Politico: Senate confirms Samantha Power as ambassador to the United Nations
The Senate confirmed human rights advocate Samantha Power to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an 87-10 vote Thursday afternoon. President Barack Obama nominated Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and former National Security Council aide, after moving former ambassador Susan Rice to his White House team in June. She was an early addition to the Obama team, joining his campaign in 2008 as a foreign policy adviser. In June, the president called Power a “relentless advocate for American interests and values, building partnerships on behalf of democracy and human rights, fighting the scourge of anti-Semitism and combating human trafficking.”
Time: Why the U.S. Economy Could… Pop!
It is easy to imagine that because Washington is mired in political gridlock, the rest of the country is stuck too. This may explain why surveys show deep pessimism over the nation’s Economic Outlook. Such sentiment made sense after the scary financial collapse of 2008, but it doesn’t anymore. In fact, after five years of struggling against headwinds triggered by that collapse, the U.S. is making a surprisingly strong comeback.
The Washington Post: The Democrats’ Senate majority firewall
The man in charge of retaining Democrats’ Senate majority Wednesday detailed the six states he believes will determine whether he’s successful in 2014. The states include four Democratic held seats — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — and two GOP-held seats — Kentucky and Georgia. And Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) made the case that Republicans will have to come close to running the table. “This is what the majority in the Senate’s going to come down to,” he said. “Republicans have to essentially sweep these races in order to win the majority, winning at least five of the six.”
Dome: Country club fundraiser for House Republicans
The N.C. Republican House Caucus Leadership fund will be raising money at the Carolina Country Club next month. The Aug. 27 shindig is billed as a reception honoring the GOP House caucus. Chipping in $10,000 will get you 12 tickets to the VIP and general receptions, with less expensive options available down to $150 single tickets. No word on who the VIPs are, but it wouldn’t be surprising if U.S. Senate candidate and House Speaker Thom Tillis was among them. The leadership fund is part of the N.C. Republican Party.
Politico: Mitch McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes to NRSC
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s chief of staff is stepping down from his position to focus exclusively on the GOP leader’s reelection campaign and the national Republican effort to take back the majority next year. The move, Republicans say, is a reflection of the growing belief — and concern — that 2014 could be the last opportunity in years for the GOP to recapture the Senate after blowing their chance at the majority in the past two election cycles. So McConnell is moving a key aide out of his official Washington office to work entirely on campaign politics.
Politico: Alison Lundergan Grimes: ‘The goal is to win’ vs. Mitch McConnell
Alison Lundergan Grimes was 6 years old when Mitch McConnell started his Senate career, and she’s held elected office for not even two years. But the fresh Democratic face could give the Senate minority leader the fight of his political life. A once-bitterly divided state party is embracing Grimes, who rallied big and energetic crowds this week at her first campaign events following her botched July 1 announcement. The Kentucky secretary of state’s stump speech focused heavily on McConnell — she roused supporters with a stampede of attacks against the GOP leader’s nearly three-decade tenure in Washington.
Huffington Post: Tom Cotton, Arkansas Rep., Took Student Loans, Voted Against Them
There weren’t too many members of Congress who voted against a student loan bill that will end up costing parents and students more, but one was Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who recently announced his bid to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). Most of the bill’s opponents were Democrats who objected to the billions the federal government will earn from making the loans. But Cotton, a House freshman, voted no because he doesn’t want the government in the student loan business. That turns out to be an interesting position for him since, as Cotton acknowledges in a statement Thursday, he received federally backed Stafford loans to help pay for Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 2002.
The Global Dispatch: Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul in 2016? John McCain says ‘It’s Gonna be A Tough Choice’
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee and senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain, made some interesting and surprising, or not so surprising comments concerning a potential 2016 Presidential match-up between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in an interview with The New Republic. In the interview with Isaac Chotiner, McCain was asked first about the Clinton’s performance as Secretary, where he gave Mrs. Clinton kudos, “I think she did a fine job. She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world. I do think it is interesting that the issues where John Kerry is engaging is where Hillary Clinton did not engage in, that those decisions were left to the White House and the National Security Council.”In the hypothetical question from Mr. Chotiner concerning the potential presidential battle between Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul in 2016, “ I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?” McCain answered chuckling, “It’s gonna be a tough choice.”
Politico: The staffer’s dilemma
The staffer’s dilemma can be produced by all manner of ethical, legal and even policy-related controversies, not just sex scandals. But the loyalty vs. self-interest question seems to be coming up more often — and more publicly — these days, as changing media standards regularly put politicians’ personal behavior on very public display. In addition, there is the growing trend of political operatives who cultivate media reputations for themselves that are nearly as prominent as the candidates they work for.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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