GOP vs. GOP in Sen. Rucho resignation fallout, Sen. Berger targets hospitals, universities’ sales tax refunds, Art Pope kills judicial public financing, Sarah Palin reunites with Fox and Nancy Pelosi & The Supremes?
Dome: Rucho resigns as co-chair over tax reform standoff with Berger
Rucho spoke briefly with Dome this morning and said he thought a legislative meeting earlier this year with economists showed "a clear pathway" to tax reform, which his bill reflected. "There just seemed to be a lot of resistance from a lot of special interest groups that would rather have loopholes than fair tax policy," Rucho said.
Winston-Salem Journal: Rucho resigns as chairman on tax flap
Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, wrote to Senate leader Phil Berger on Thursday to submit his resignation as chairman effective Tuesday afternoon, two hours before the tax-writing panel met to discuss an alternative tax overhaul plan presented by Berger. "We both agree that real comprehensive tax reform is crucial to the economic future of North Carolina and its citizens, but we have a fundamental disagreement on the most effective model of tax reform and the management of that legislation," Rucho wrote in the letter dated Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.
News & Observer: Rucho resigns committee post; Berger isn’t having it
Rucho’s resignation came just days after Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger unveiled a new tax plan that walked back several provisions in Rucho’s plan, including a proposal to add a state sales tax to food and prescription medicine, and expand the sales tax to numerous services. In his resignation letter to Berger, Rucho wrote: “It’s a huge disappointment that the Governor and the Speaker of the House did not provide the leadership or have the political backbone to fight the special-interest groups…”
WRAL: Rucho resigns as finance chairman over tax disagreement
"When you stand on a certain principle and see how things are going another way…you have to say it’s time to do something else," Rucho told WRAL News. For Rucho’s plan to work, the state needed to close a number of tax breaks for specific industries. In total, there are $9 billion in "tax expenditures" that represent favorable tax treatment of specific individuals and industries. In December, Rucho warned that the effort could "turn into the Lobbyist Full-Employment Act."Rucho said Thursday that prediction had apparently come true. "It seems like the special interests got in the way, and that’s a shame because they’re causing everybody’s taxes to go up," he said.
News & Observer: Sen. Phil Berger pushes effort to cap sales tax refunds from nonprofits
The state Senate voted Thursday to cap sales tax refunds for non-profits, a move that could eventually cost hospitals, universities and other charities $235 million in revenue a year. The state House did not include a similar cap in its tax bill, so the outcome will be decided in negotiations between the two chambers.
Charlotte Observer: Lenders spent big to advance bill raising rates
Records show a group of consumer finance providers spent more than $1.8 million to hire at least 20 lobbyists and steer campaign contributions to North Carolina lawmakers to win passage of a bill raising the maximum interest rates they can charge borrowers. After sailing through the Republican-controlled General Assembly earlier this month, the bill now awaits the expected signature of Gov. Pat McCrory. Critics of the measure, including Attorney General Roy Cooper, say the fee increases and sky-high interest rates allowed by the bill will trap vulnerable low-income borrowers in a harmful cycle of taking on more debt just to cover the payments on prior loans.
WRAL: State spending plan enters final phase
The state budget is headed back to the Senate for negotiations after winning its final House vote Thursday, 77-40. Democratic critics say the plan underfunds vital programs in education, health and economic development in order to pay for a tax break that will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest people in the state. “There is no difference between a tax and a fee. They’re both three-letter words that take money out of your pocket," said Hall, D-Durham. "But those millionaires got their tax break." "You came here talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. You haven’t created one job that I know of," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham. "You have cut jobs."
Wilmington Star News: NC Senate gives first approval to tax overhaul
The Senate tentatively approved a plan Thursday that goes farther than a previous proposal to lower overall tax rates but forgoes a broad expansion of sales taxes to new services. The House already approved a plan that doesn’t lower rates as far and adds some new sales taxes for services. Republicans argued it will put people back to work in a state with the fifth highest unemployment. Democrats argued it will cripple public services by giving billions in tax revenues to corporations and wealthier earners.
Dome: Did art pope kill judicial public financing
Pope played a pivotal role in killing legislation designed to keep big money from deciding high court races, an advocacy group asserts. Pope, budget director for Gov. Pat McCrory and a major conservative political donor, was seen lobbying state Rep. Jonathan Jordan outside the House chambers Tuesday afternoon, after Jordan offered a compromise amendment that would have preserved public financing for appellate judges. Shortly after speaking with Pope, Jordan withdrew the amendment, and the House voted to kill North Carolina’s 10-year program of public financing, according to Melissa Price Kromm, director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, who witnessed the conversation.
Washington Post: Hillary Clinton announces new charitable agenda at family’s foundation
Calling opportunities for women and girls “the great unfinished business of this century,” Clinton said, “When women participate in politics, the effects ripple out across society.” In her 26-minute address, Clinton touted some of the Obama administration’s domestic priorities, and said she would work from outside the administration to help expand pre-kindergarten programs and family medical leave benefits, as well as make equal pay for women a reality and encourage more girls to pursue education and careers in such male-dominated fields as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Politico: Hillary Clinton talks post-State Dept. priorities
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the Clinton Global Initiative conference in Chicago Thursday, outlining her priorities now that she’s officially part of the organization. In one of her most high-profile speeches since she left her post as Secretary of State, Clinton said she’ll focus her attention on three causes that that have been “close to my heart”: early childhood development, opportunities for women and girls, and economic development.
Huffington Post: Sarah Palin, Fox News Together Again
According to a Fox News press release, Palin will contribute to the network’s daytime and primetime programming and Fox Business Network. She will first appear on Monday’s "Fox & Friends." The date coincides with the launch of CNN’s new morning show "New Day," which was created by the network’s new president and morning show aficionado, Jeff Zucker.
NANCY PELOSI & THE SUPREMES?
Politico: Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius sing backup for John Dingell serenade
A backup chorus that included Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius and actress Lynda Carter has helped singer Mary Wilson serenade congressman John Dingell in a ceremony honoring the longest-serving member of Congress.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party