Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: Budget's fine print hits future state employees hard

Posted June 23

Senate panel reviews proposed budget

Friday, June 23, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on how the 2017 state budget will affect everyday North Carolinians, why "Raise the Age" was a bright spot in this year's plan, a call to change a loophole in N.C.'s revoke consent law and more.

ROSE HOBAN -- Budget Benefits Current State Retirees, But Dings Future Ones (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Buried deep in the budget is a provision that would end health benefits for state employees who start their service after 2021.

FERREL GUILLORY: Omnibus budget ladened with more than money (EdNC column) -- This year, the Republican legislative leadership appears to have kept an even tighter hold on the budget-making process. It is not only that lawmakers began voting on the combined House-Senate bill less than 24 hours after it was released; it is also that important policy decisions got little debate on the floor, hardly any airing in committees, in press conferences, in speeches or in position papers.

STEPHANIE CARSON: NC Budget: Fewer Kids in Prison, A Little More Education Funding (Public News Service analysis) -- While the state waits to see if Gov. Roy Cooper will sign the budget sent to his desk from the State Assembly, public interest groups with generally common goals find themselves on opposite sides of some issues. The budget includes a plan to raise the age that juvenile offenders can be tried as adults, to keep them out of the adult prison population. At the same time, education funding to benefit all children remains stagnant or below pre-recession levels, says Logan Smith, the communications director of Progress NC Action.

One positive action (Greensboro News & Record) -- The “Raise the Age” campaign took on a tough challenge and was remarkably effective.

‘No’ should really mean ‘no’ (Fayetteville Observer) -- In North Carolina, we learned this week, “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no.” If a woman initially consents to sex, then changes her mind, her partner can’t be charged with rape or sexual assault if he refuses to stop. That’s the hard lesson that Aaliyah Palmer learned at a Fayetteville party, where that’s exactly what happened to her. A sexual encounter turned violent, with her partner ripping out her hair. But when she tried to bring charges, she ran into a 1979 state Supreme Court decision that rules women cannot revoke consent once sexual intercourse begins.

KIMBER MYERS: documentary 'Raising Bertie' (Los Angeles Times review) -- Margaret Byrne turns in an impressive directorial debut with “Raising Bertie.” The documentary spends six years with three young black men living in rural Bertie County, North Carolina, focusing on a population that so rarely gets the spotlight.

N.C. not on list for Foxconn $7B tech plants in US (WRAL-TechWire analysis) -- Foxconn, the manufacturer that assembles smartphones for Apple and electronic devices for other firms, expects to announce plans soon for $7 billion in investments to build plants in the U.S. But North Carolina isn't on an early list of possible sites.

Supreme Court's Chance to End the Gerrymander (Bloomberg View) -- There are good reasons for the U.S. Supreme Court’s reticence about gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative districts to exploit partisan advantage. Partisan loyalties are fluid, and there’s no “apolitical” way to draw voting districts. The court is also mindful of the legislative branch’s prerogative to conduct its own affairs. Nevertheless, the court has accepted a Wisconsin case that shows a way to make congressional elections more fair and efficient.

JOE POMPEO: Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron (Politico analysis) -- They’re pals who once vied for the same jobs. Now, as editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post, they’re locked in a daily battle for Trump scoops.

Speed, secrecy raise doubts about GOP health reform (Jacksonville Daily News) -- President Donald Trump promised to make health care “much less expensive and much better” shortly before his inauguration. So here’s a reasonable question for Republicans pushing an Affordable Care Act replacement through the U.S. Senate at lightning speed: Why not give the nation’s doctors, hospitals, nurses and patients enough time to see if the plan meets presidential expectations?

Senate health plan is a little Obamacare with a lot of pain (Charlotte Observer) -- Better Care Reconciliation Act cuts coverage, raises premiums and should scare Republican moderates. Will it?

MATTNEW HAAG & MAYA SALAM: N.C. Gunman in ‘Pizzagate’ Shooting Is Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison (New York Times analysis) -- A 29-year-old North Carolina man who fired a military-style assault rifle inside a popular Washington pizzeria in December, wrongly believing he was saving children trapped in a sex-slave ring, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison.

VALERIE STRAUSS: Problems with charter schools that you won’t hear Betsy DeVos talk about (Washington Post analysis) -- In some parts of the country, charter schools have been used for “white flight.” Researchers at Duke University have determined that as North Carolina’s public school population became less white, its charter school population became whiter. The study concluded that its “findings imply that the charter schools in North Carolina are increasingly serving the interests of relatively able white students in racially imbalanced schools.”

STEVEN EDELMAN: How do we deal with our Unaffiliated Party? (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Way back in 1901 in North Carolina, I would imagine that people would have a tough time thinking that there could be a bigger political party than the Democrats or the Republicans. The fact that there are more unaffiliated voters in North Carolina than there are Republicans came up at the last Community Advisory Board meeting.

The arts pay off; let’s sell them better (Wilmington Star-News) -- The arts aren’t just niceties or distractions. For communities like Wilmington, they mean business -- serious business. The local arts council crunched some numbers recently in cooperation with Americans for the Arts, a nationwide advocacy group. Their study indicates that the non-profit arts community -- that’s not counting businesses like art galleries -- generate close to $56 million in economic activity in New Hanover County

TODD MILLER: James Barrie Gaskill, Friend of Our Coast (Coastal Review column) -- James Barrie Gaskill of Ocracoke, an educator, commercial fisherman, family man and advocate for a healthy North Carolina coast, died Wednesday at 74.

A North Carolina Couple's Modern Duplex (Wall Street Journal column) -- Architect Phil Freelon and his wife, Nnenna Freelon, a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, bought a Durham, N.C., penthouse apartment and created a loft-like, two-story space.

Time for Hoke sheriff to embrace accountability (Fayetteville Observer) -- Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin is an experienced cop and a savvy politician. So why in the world is he shooting himself in the foot by posting wild allegations, calling an investigation of his department’s overtime pay “an orchestrated lie to discredit me,” and warning Hoke residents that his deputies are on the verge of quitting, which will put the public’s “safety and lives in jeopardy”?


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