Local Politics

House leader criticized for upcoming summit trip

Posted July 16, 2009

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— With a finalized state budget two weeks late and no agreement in sight, North Carolina's Republican leader on Thursday criticized the speaker of the House for attending a summit next week in Philadelphia.

State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer criticized Rep. Joe Hackney's decision to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures' Legislative Summit, which begins Sunday.

“While Democrats talk of a budget crisis, their leader in the state House is taking a week off to go on a political junket," Fetzer said. "Speaker Hackney needs to put the citizens first and get back to work."

A finalized spending plan no closer to being approved than it was July 1. The General Assembly on Wednesday worked out a stopgap measure to keep state government and services running at a reduced operating budget until July 31.

The state faces a projected $4.6 billion budget shortfall for the next two fiscal years, and lawmakers are at a stalemate over how to generate more than $2 billion in new revenue to help lessen budget cuts that could lead to drastic spending reductions for education, health and human services and public safety.

Hackney, D-Orange, is the current president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and had planned to attend the weeklong summit, Bill Holmes, a spokesman for Hackney's office, said in an e-mail Thursday.

"The Speaker is nearing the end of a yearlong term as president of NCSL, a role that has proven valuable to North Carolina," Holmes said. "He will be here in Raleigh for the majority of the week, as budget negotiations continue, and return to Philadelphia only as necessary."

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, said that he and Hackney will talk by phone, as needed, and that he does not believe the summit will create a problem.

Holmes said Hackney plans to meet with the conference's incoming president to discuss how federal stimulus money is influencing what is happening in states; be part of a discussion about the White House's health proposals; and visit with several national task forces that will be meeting.

No state money is involved with the trip, Holmes said.

He added that, as president of the conference, Hackney has been allowed to work directly with the White House and to lobby for things important to North Carolina, such as transportation and education funding.

"Speaker Hackney's first priority is to North Carolina and the business of the House of Representatives," Holmes said.


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  • Tal Chotali Jul 16, 2009

    "The Speaker is nearing the end of a yearlong term as president of NCSL, a role that has proven valuable to North Carolina," Holmes said. " I wish the Hackney spokesman would be a little more specific here. What specific value has the state or its citizens received during his term as President of NCSL?

  • HSMOM Jul 16, 2009

    csswisher - Lol - my hackles were never ruffled. Your statement did not include Hackney's name - To quote you: I could care less one way or the other -the budget being passed is NOT going to be good for any of us.....so be gone with ya! If you had included Hackney's name, we wouldn't be having this conversation. The way you wrote it led me to believe you were referring to the people who were commenting. So if I misunderstood - my apologies!

  • colliedave Jul 16, 2009

    Image is everything. The fact a leader would go out of town while the legislator is deadlocked sends the message this trip has a higher priority than ending the deadlock. One thing that wasn't included in the story is the trip will include a Phillies baseball game.

  • No-More-Taxes Jul 16, 2009

    One good thing, this could buy us an extra week before the taxes are increased.

  • dave b Jul 16, 2009

    Fetzer is just trying to get publicity. If our legislators can't do two things at once, they should not be there in the first place. No state funds used and keeping in touch with peopl ehere while he is there ... what's the problem besides the Dems trying to spend way too much money on social issues? Fetzer's out of bounds comments. The GOP would do better to replace him.

  • csswisher Jul 16, 2009

    uh HS MOM - to clarify to YOU - I SAID "be gone" with Hackney and NO I could care LESS what he does or where he goes - the budget will get done and yes he SHOULD be here, but clearly this is not something that is going to stop that from happening...so please unruffle your hackles.

  • HSMOM Jul 16, 2009

    csswisher - If you don't care about the budget that's fine but to say "be gone with ya" to all the people who do care and who it effects - sorry to say you can't just poof them all away. It's a real issue to some people and you can't discount that!

  • WHEEL Jul 16, 2009

    He's not doing anything in Raleigh, why not let him go to Pa.

  • Eduardo1 Jul 16, 2009

    csswicher...you are right on the case.

  • EyesintheSkies Jul 16, 2009

    two words.........."go" and "stay".