CNN – The day that was never supposed to happen is here
Today is the day lawmakers have known about since August 2011: the day those forced federal spending cuts kick in.
This Friday is also a day many never expected would come. After all, the cuts known as sequestration were designed to be so draconian that lawmakers would be forced to compromise and avoid them.
But they haven’t, and as lawmakers left Washington to begin their weekend on Thursday, so left any prospect of avoiding the cuts that President Barack Obama and his administration have warned will lead to long airport lines and fewer air traffic safety controllers; federal government furloughs and layoffs; cuts to food inspection and border security programs; and education funding decreases that will shut young students out of Head Start programs.
THE WASHINGTON POST – Obama meets congressional leaders on sequester
Congressional leaders gathered at the White House on Friday to meet with President Obama on ways to avoid the steep budget cuts known as the sequester, but expectations for the meeting were low.
Ahead of the meeting, which is taking place on the day that the cuts are due to take effect, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) effectively dashed any remaining hopes for a sequester-averting agreement, saying that “there will be no last-minute, back-room deal and absolutely no agreement to increase taxes.”
NBC NEWS – Sequester Day caps off an absurd week
As the automatic across-the-board spending cuts are set to take effect today and as President Obama meets at the White House with congressional leaders, we have to get this off our chest: This has been an absurd week. Today’s White House meeting is coming only at the last second; there’s been no sense of urgency, no negotiating, and Congress has left town; and, when you think about it, this hasn’t even been a true budget showdown. Given the lack of urgency and negotiating, it’s hard not to conclude that — deep down — plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle are OK with having these cuts take place, at least in the short term. Yes, both sides are kicking and screaming publicly. And, yes, these cuts will impact people’s livelihoods. But if you’re a Republican who wants to cut spending, you’re getting your spending cuts. And if you’re a Democrat who either wants to reduce defense spending or ensure that all of the cuts aren’t targeted only at social programs, you’re getting your wish. This is perhaps the biggest reason why these cuts are going into effect: At the end of the day, they were better than the alternative (for Republicans, raising taxes and eliminating loopholes; for Democrats, having these spending cuts come exclusively from social spending).
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WRAL – NC lawmakers urged to expand earned income tax credit
A coalition in support of a state tax credit designed to put more money in wallets of the working poor urged lawmakers on Thursday to keep the measure as a central part of any plan for revenue.
North Carolina House Republicans have passed a bill that would reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit for 2013 tax returns and then eliminate it, beginning with 2014 tax returns.
The bill, scheduled to go before the full state Senate on Monday, passed after the House defeated a Democratic amendment that would have extended the credit until 2019.
WRAL – House tentatively OKs purge of boards and commissions
House lawmakers tentatively approved Thursday a proposal to make sweeping changes to the state’s boards and commissions.
Senate Bill 10 would eliminate, fire or restructure about two dozen boards and commissions, including the State Board of Elections, the State Board of Education, the Coastal Resources Commission, the Environmental Management Commission, the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Industrial Commission and the Utilities Commission.
The House version of the bill went through a dizzying number of changes in just 36 hours. It was added to Thursday’s House calendar without public notice, after additional changes were made in a Rules Committee meeting earlier in the day.
NEWS & OBSERVER – Zebulon, other NC towns face loss of state funding
Three Triangle-area towns are among the 114 North Carolina municipalities hoping the General Assembly will extend a 10-year funding program that will disappear if not renewed in next year’s state budget.
In 2002, the N.C. General Assembly started a program known as “hold harmless” funding to help local governments affected by a decision in 1988 to repeal the inventory tax.
WRAL – House GOP buries proposal to cut commission salaries
House Republicans Thursday praised the Boards and Commissions overhaul for cutting the size and cost of state government.
But at the same time, caucus leaders used a procedural move to bury a proposal to slash the six-figure salaries of Utility Commissioners.
The amendment, run by New Hanover Democrat Susi Hamilton, would have cut the salaries of Utility Commissioners from more than $120,000 a year to about $80,000.
With the amendment before the House for a vote, Republican Rules Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, used a parliamentary maneuver – a motion for the amendment "’to lie upon the table" – to bury the proposal.
WGHP – Bill would allow guns in NC private, religious schools
State Sen. Stan Bingham has filed a proposal that would allow private and church affiliated schools to have armed employees or volunteers on property, WRAL reports.
Senate Bill 146 does not require certification other than a concealed-carry permit, according to the report. It would allow a school administrator to approve the armed employee or volunteer.
CBS CHARLOTTE – Charlotte Airport Bill Delayed In NC Senate
Charlotte’s mayor is pleased that legislators slowed a bill that would shift control of North Carolina’s largest airport from the city to a regional authority.
The sponsor of the bill to create a new oversight body for Charlotte Douglas International Airport said he delayed floor debate Thursday to get information about the proposed change on bonds the airport has issued. Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews rescheduled debate for next Wednesday.
Mayor Anthony Foxx and the city council have opposed the switch and say the authority idea should be studied. Foxx said Thursday the proposal seems like a solution looking for a problem with one of the country’s busiest airports.
NEWS & OBSERVER – Voucher ploy could be disastrous for public schools
Public school superintendents have long fought an idea that rears up from time to time in the General Assembly: giving public money to parents for the purpose of paying for private schools for their children. Republican lawmakers, more inclined to push this idea now that they have control on Jones Street, should instead pull the reins.
Vouchers are a bad idea on several levels. First, there’s just plain principle. Public money should fund public schools. The historic promise of a free education for young people, given because of the opportunity it provides for the bettering of lives and thus the bettering of a state and nation, has been kept, through good times and bad.
THE WASHINGTON POST – A grieving father’s plea for a gun ban
EUGENE ROBINSON – Most of our top elected officials probably didn’t notice — they were too busy making fools of themselves over an idiotic budget “crisis” of their own making — but something worth remembering happened in Washington this week: A grieving parent pleaded softly for a ban on military-style weapons such as the one used to kill his son.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee could not help but be transfixed by the witness who sat before them Wednesday, opening his presentation with a heartbreaking introduction.
North Carolina Democratic Party