NCDP Clips for Friday, February 20th, 2015
Tweet of The Day
NC Senate OKs unemployment bill; McCrory vetoed similar bill (AP) — The Senate has completed work on changes to unemployment insurance rules sought by Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration. But the plan also includes tinkering with a jobless claims appeals board that McCrory successfully blocked last year with a veto.
Stam says: Budget shortfall? I don’t see no stinking shortfall (Raleigh News & Observer) — Despite projections showing North Carolina revenues are expected to come up short of the budgeted amount by about $270 million, or 1.3 percent of the overall budget this year, state Rep. Paul Stam says the numbers don’t represent a "revenue shortfall."
Film incentives out, grant in – local officials unify focus (Wilmington Star-News) — A show of unity by Wilmington-area politicians and film leaders in favor of the state’s film production grant program could signal a wrap on efforts to reinstate the now-defunct 25 percent tax credit. Mayor Bill Saffo joined Bill Vassar, EUE/Screen Studios’ executive vice president; Johnny Griffin, Wilmington Regional Film Commission director; and Beth Dawson, New Hanover County Commission Vice Chairman, held a press conference on the studio lot Thursday morning to pledge support for the grant program. But the group also sent a clear message to Raleigh that, in order for the industry to regain its reputation as a desirable filming location, more funding is needed for the program. "What we are trying to do as a commission and as business leaders is to ask the legislative delegation and the legislative leadership to increase the grant program to a level that we feel is competitive," Saffo said.
Officials urge NC lawmakers to boost film production grants (AP) — Officials in Wilmington are urging North Carolina lawmakers to boost film grants as Hollywood productions go elsewhere for more lucrative incentives.
NC Museum of History uses exhibit to push for tax credit (AP) — The N.C. Museum of History is using an exhibit of photographs of abandoned buildings to push for the restoration of the historic preservation tax credit.
NC Lawmakers Work on Job Development Plan (TWN-TV) — An economic incentives bill was expected to be released this week, but now won’t be ready until next week. However, lawmakers say they are carefully crafting a proposal they believe will help bring jobs to the state.
Why ‘Ways and Means’ is funny (WRAL-TV) — Mention of the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee is likely to prompt giggles from legislative insiders. Here’s why.
POLICIES & POLITICS
28 percent of poultry jobs lost in Hoke County to come back (AP) — Since 2013 Hoke County lost more than 1,300 poultry jobs, as the House of Raeford closed plants in the county. Butterball says it will re-open a plant closed in December revive 367 jobs – 28 percent of those lost.
Butterball Adding 367 New Jobs By Expanding Operations In Hoke County (N.C. Political News) — Gov Pat McCrory, N.C. Commerce Secretary John Skvarla and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. announced Thursday that Butterball, LLC will expand its operations in Hoke County and create 367 new jobs over the next three years. The company plans to invest $66.75 million in the city of Raeford over the same period. The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $150,000.
113 jobs shed as Belk closes N.C. distribution center (Charlotte Business Journal) — Belk Inc. is preparing to shutter its distribution and fulfillment center in Pineville – near Charlotte – this September, a move that will eliminate 113 jobs. The Charlotte-based retailer disclosed the planned closing in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, with the N.C. Commerce Department.
Biden in NC: America must rebuild its infrastructure (AP) — In a visit to Charlotte, where local leaders say prosperity is linked to infrastructure investments, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday reiterated the administration’s call to invest billions in highways, bridges and passenger rail service to promote long-term economic growth.
New Oregon governor means NC’s Marshall to lead association (AP) — The elevation of Oregon’s secretary of state to become the next governor means a news leadership post for North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
Acting NC SBI Director Collier nominated to full term (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory wants his first choice to lead the State Bureau of Investigation to remain on the job for another eight years.
Can Republicans show they’re against Big Money, too? (Facing South) — Some Republicans are seeking to show they’re against Big Money influence. Last month, a group of operatives launched Take Back Our Republic, a nonprofit that promotes "conservative solutions to problems with the campaign finance system." The group was founded by John Pudner, a political consultant based in Alabama most recently known for advising the maverick campaign of David Bratt, who unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 2014 Republican primary. At the state level, there has been more experimentation and bispartisanship in addressing Big Money influence. More than 20 states have some form of public financing to level the playing field for candidates seeking office, measures that have passed with bipartisan support (Maine being the most recent). But those efforts have come under fire, often from the same ideological interests that have escalated spending in state-level elections. In North Carolina, a judicial public financing system that had passed with Republican backing was swiftly eliminated at the urging of millionaire GOP donor Art Pope, who first zeroed out funding for the program from his perch as the governor’s budget director, and then pressured state legislators — many of whom he helped spend money to elect — to eliminate it entirely.
Lawsuit Seeks Rights for Magistrates to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage (Southern Pines Pilot) — A former Moore County magistate has filed a lawsuit challenging state court officials — including the Moore County Clerk of Courts — over whether magistrates are legally required to perform same-sex marriages as part of their jobs.
Fayetteville leaders concerned over Air Force move (Fayetteville Observer) — Local leaders are concerned and, in some cases, outraged by news the Air Force is moving forward on plans to inactivate a Fort Bragg unit. The Air Force decision to open a clearing house for airmen of the 440th Airlift Wing disregards Congress and flies in the face of a promise made by new Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, they said.
Six years after deaths, Ocracoke may host fireworks (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) — Ocracoke could host a fireworks show this year for the first time since 2009, when four people died in one of the nation’s deadliest pyrotechnics explosions. But a sense of caution remains in the remote Outer Banks community traumatized after the accident.
State’s auditor has Craven County roots (New Bern Sun Journal) — North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood will give the General Assembly Joint Oversight Program Evaluation Committee audit findings Monday on whether the state saves money by spending nearly $3 billion every two years on information technology products and services.
State’s death total from flu reaches 170 (AP) — The death toll in the state’s flu epidemic has reached a record 170, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said today.
Vertex facility prepared to adapt if feds change rail car regulations (Wilmington Star-News) — Vertex Rail Technologies will build the same kind of tank cars that exploded in the derailment Monday of an oil train.
Reynolds American delving deeper into nicotine gum business (AP) — Cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. is partnering with pharmaceutical consultancy to develop products that help people stop smoking.
SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES
Ideology Seen as Factor in Closings in UNC System (New York Times) — An advisory panel of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors has recommended closing three academic centers, including a poverty center and one dedicated to social change, inciting outrage among liberals who believe that conservatives in control of state government are targeting ideological opponents in academia. Conservatives are cheering the move, seeing it as a corrective to a higher education system they believe has lent its imprimatur to groups that engage in partisan activism. “They’re moving in the right direction, though I don’t think they went far enough,” said Francis X. De Luca, president of the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh primarily funded by Art Pope’s family foundation. “A lot of these centers were started up with a specific advocacy role in mind, as opposed to an educational role.”
Statement from Dean Boger: UNC Centers and University Values (UNC News Release) — The following is a statement from Dean John Charles "Jack" Boger ’74 in response to the recommendation by the working group of the UNC Board of Governors to close the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Long before recent generations came to love the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because of Dean Smith and basketball, an earlier generation learned to love it for the virtues that Smith exemplified in his exceptional life — courage, vision, openness to change and a belief in the worth of every person. President George Taylor Winston, who led Carolina in the last decade of the 19th century, declared that “there is nothing narrow or restricted about university culture. It is as broad as life.” His successor Edward Kidder Graham famously observed that the university’s boundaries were coterminous with those of the state, and he energetically linked the campus to campaigns for good roads, public health, city and county planning, and rural economic development.
WSSU research center told to find funding elsewhere (Winston-Salem Journal) — A special committee of the UNC board of governors is recommending that Winston-Salem State University review the Center for Community Safety and find non-state money to operate it. If the university cannot secure that outside funding, the center should close, the committee recommended in its report on the 240 centers and institutes that conduct research and policy analysis in the UNC system.
HOT BLAST: North Carolina attempts to silence a critic (Anniston Star editorial) — Compared to other Southern states over the second half of the last century, North Carolina was different, and by different we mean better. Better (though not perfect) on race relations, on economic development and on educating its residents. In recent years, North Carolina has moved in the opposite direction. One very conservative and very wealthy man, Art Pope, who is a sort of local version of the Koch Brothers, has created the best government (at least from his perspective) his money will buy. A lurch to the right ensued as did a counter-movement.
UNC panel: Close ECU center (Greenville Daily Reflector) — Some scientists at East Carolina University will continue their work despite learning on Wednesday that their work space likely will lose its status as a research center within the state university system, an ECU official said Thursday.
Study shows college’s role in economy (Washington Daily News) — A first-ever statewide analysis of higher education’s contribution to the state’s economy was released this week, and a local study documents the vital role BCCC plays in the local region, adding about $99.5 million to the economy each year.
In Lee County Education Is Economic Development (EdNC) — Career and college readiness has been gaining ground in education due to changes in our economy and workforce.
Higher ed worth the investment (Wilmington Star-News editorial) — Public money invested in higher education comes back into our economy many times over.
Superintendent of Schools Atkinson speaks out amid criticism of her department(WTVD-TV) — Two weeks after announcing that 29 percent of North Carolina grade schools had gotten Ds and Fs on a new, state-wide grading scale, Superintendent of Schools Dr. June Atkinson sat down with ABC11 to spell out four steps she says could turn those failing schools around.
Report Urges Major Changes in Journalism Education (Inside Higher Ed) — A new report from the Knight Foundation urges a major overhaul in journalism education. The report calls for journalism schools to create new "digital first" publications and to hire faculty who have experience in digital journalism. Further, it calls for the accreditation of journalism schools to focus not on program resources but on "measurable metrics" of teaching and learning success.
UNC releases contract for legal services on academic fraud (Raleigh News & Observer) — The contract UNC-Chapel Hill recently struck with a high-powered law firm shows its first priority is helping with the academic fraud scandal, which has prompted at least three lawsuits. It says the New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm’s work involves "representing the University in litigation, investigation, accreditation, regulatory and other matters arising out of and related to the academic improprieties" found in former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein’s 131-page investigative report.
What it will take to buck trends, foster great teaching (Charlotte Observer column) — Forty-five years ago, my mother became a teacher. In many ways, her choice made itself. She and my dad were just getting started and teaching gave a young woman entering the workforce in the ’60s a chance to make both a living and an impact. She spent four and a half decades doing just that.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Drilling (Coastal Review) — The first N.C. skirmish in what will certainly be a prolonged battle over offshore drilling played out in Wilmington Tuesday. A look inside the heart of both camps.
Maine’s LePage joins governors’ offshore energy coalition (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage has joined a coalition of state leaders that wants the federal government to allow more offshore energy development.
Nichol: The N.C. poor our state officials refuse to see (Raleigh News & Observer column) — Gov. Pat McCrory delivered his State of the State address a couple weeks back. An 80-minute disquisition. There was talk of the “momentum of our success,” of “beating the competition,” a “bright economic future” and “cranes returning to the skyline.” He pitched business incentives and transportation bonds and boasted of tax cuts and unemployment compensation reductions. Sports analogies were pervasive. A broken water fountain received ample attention. Serious business, to be sure. Still, for me, the governor missed a good deal in exploring North Carolina’s current condition.
Help for landowners (Greensboro News & Record) — The N.C. Department of Transportation is like any purchaser: It wants to buy cheap.