NCDP Clips for Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
Tweet of The Day
With surplus nearing $1 billion, Moore says state employee pay raises on the table(Raleigh News & Observer) State officials now say there may be nearly $1 billion in surplus budget funds. That apparently has led Republican House Speaker Tim Moore to talk openly about a “meaningful” raise for state workers. “We are looking at state employee raises – I don’t know what the amount will be,” Moore said. “The key is to try to find a way, whenever you deal with pay raises, so that it’s meaningful. So that it’s a meaningful raise and at the same time something that you can afford.”
NC Ends Year in Black: No Green Light for Tax Cuts, Say Economists (Public News Service) — North Carolina coffers are flush with cash at the end of this budget cycle – $400 million, to be exact. The surplus is due largely to a decrease in state tax credits available to individuals.
NC Senate leader outlines budget priorities (Raleigh News & Observer) — While the state House is busy crafting the first draft of the legislature’s budget this week, Senate leader Phil Berger offered his own list of spending priorities Tuesday.
McCrory, legislators talk incentives, budget with NC Chamber (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory says the legislature must pass his proposed economic incentives so it can stay competitive with surrounding states for jobs and extend prosperity. House Speaker Tim Moore wants to help rural counties experience the economic recovery, too. And Senate leader Phil Berger says tax rates must continue to fall.
NC House speaker: No way N.C. could compete for Volvo (Raleigh News & Observer) — House Speaker Tim Moore said Tuesday that his chamber’s economic development bill wouldn’t have provided enough incentive money to beat South Carolina for a Volvo car manufacturing plant. Moore’s comments at an N.C. Chamber meeting contrasted with Commerce Secretary John Skvarla’s take on the Volvo announcement. Skvarla said Monday he didn’t think North Carolina “was ever in the game” to recruit Volvo because the legislature hasn’t yet passed incentives.
N.C. Senate to debate incentives bill within weeks (Triad Business Journal) — The state could be taking a major step this month toward positioning itself to land an automaker or other big industry with the N.C. Senate’s Republican leader promising Tuesday to debate incentives legislation in the next two weeks. Sen. President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s promise comes a day after Volvo Cars selected South Carolina for its first U.S. plant, leaving North Carolina once again to take a back seat in the automaker pursuit to its Southern neighbor, which offered more than $200 million in incentives for Volvo to build a $500 million manufacturing plant in Berkeley County.
Environmental, racial activists protest industrial hog farms (AP) — Decades of complaints against North Carolina’s industrial-scale hog and poultry farms are being resurrected at the General Assembly.
Minimum wage question next focus of NC legislative protests (AP) — More nonviolent protests are expected in Raleigh from opponents of the Republican agenda within state government. This time, demonstrators are calling for an increase in North Carolina’s minimum wage.
Delayed NC House gun bill, once on again, misfires and now off again (AP) — A bill that eases further restrictions on concealed handguns in North Carolina and makes other gun-related changes is back on the sidelines just hours after returning to the fast track.
House OKs debt option for extensive NC Beach Plan claims (AP) — Tax-free bonds could be issued in North Carolina to help pay for catastrophic insurance claims caused by hurricanes in a bill given initial approval by the state House.
N.C. Senate panel OKs tanning-bed ban for youths (AP) — Obstacles cleared Tuesday for an outright ban on children using tanning beds in North Carolina as a Senate committee voted for the prohibition two years after the chamber declined to take up the matter.
POLICY & POLITICS
Thousands of ballots not counted under new voting law, watchdog group says (WRAL-TV) — A North Carolina elections watchdog says 2013 changes to the state’s voting law prevented thousands of ballots cast by residents across the state from counting in last year’s general election.
Progress report: Many NC road projects are over budget, overdue (WRAL-TV) — Budget constraints coupled with inefficient project construction have left many North Carolina road projects in the slow lane, and if the current trends continue, taxpayers could end up paying millions more for projects already under construction.
Audit spurs NC treasurer to changes in money system upgrade (AP) — North Carolina’s treasurer is putting more focus on the pending upgrade of a computer system that makes $20 billion in payments and processes more than five million state checks.
UNC: ‘Teetering on the edge’ (Charlotte Observer) — Now, outgoing UNC President Tom Ross says, the system’s continued eminence is at risk. The state is spending 14 percent less per degree, even as the system produces 18 percent more graduates than it did five years ago. It faces increasing difficulty retaining faculty and staff. And politics permeates the board room. “We have to decide what kind of state we want to be,” Ross told a group of Charlotte businessmen on Tuesday. “Do we want to be a state that has an excellent system of higher education, as we have had, that is really the beacon for the country? It’s the best public university system in the United States. I think that’s still true. But we are teetering on the edge and we have to pay attention if we want to maintain it. The stakes are high.”
Commissioner Goes Off the Deep End (Southern Pines Pilot) — What is it about county commissioners and religion? Since they’re civil officers, one might assume they would confine themselves to secular matters. But not so. Every time you turn around, another commissioner in another North Carolina county is causing controversy by jumping unwisely into churchly issues.
NC GOP should focus on jobs, not blame (Raleigh News & Observer) — It may not be the Hatfields and McCoys yet, but when it comes to money for jobs incentives, Republicans are going at one another pretty hard over who’s at fault for the state’s losses to South Carolina over auto plants. Their only focus should be to live up to their much-touted promises of a “Carolina Comeback” and job creation they’ve been promising for years but not delivering.
Time for a living wage in North Carolina (Raleigh News & Observer column) — William J. Barber II and Bill Wilson: Economists have repeatedly found that states that increased their minimum wages have seen better economic performance, lower unemployment and higher job creation rates than those states that didn’t.
Registration drop (Greensboro News & Record) — Since 2013, fewer people have signed up to vote when applying for public assistance. A good explanation is needed.