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Opinion Roundup: Senate budget falls way too short

Posted May 17

Berger makes announcement

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion and commentary on the North Carolina Senate budget's shortcomings, the latest state education issues, new challenges for N.C.'s prison system and more.

Tim White: Why are our lawmakers trying to starve the state? (Fayetteville Observer column) -- I was thinking about Mother’s Day last week while I watched the state Senate push through its budget plan. I recalled a bit of maternal wisdom that’s been passed down for generations, and certainly rang true in my house: Feed a cold and starve a fever. When I looked at the Senate budget, it occurred to me that the budget writers must think North Carolina government has one raging fever. They’re certainly trying to starve it. Maybe to death.


We can afford better (Greensboro News & Record) -- Despite more money going to teachers, overall K-12 public school spending per student declined in North Carolina this year, the NEA reports, and now ranks just 43rd in the country. That needs to turn around, and the Senate budget promises some progress. But it must do better still for schools and in other areas.


Isolated schools legislation could benefit Macon County schools (Carolina Public Press) -- Proposal would bring financial help to Macon County schools, with special provision for teacher allotments at isolated schools.


Digital learning threatens to leave some students behind (WUNC-FM) -- North Carolina lawmakers are banking on the benefits of digital learning. Four years ago they passed legislation requiring that state funding for textbooks be replaced by funds for digital materials. The deadline is this summer. But educators and student advocates say the transition threatens to leave behind the many kids who can’t access high-speed internet at home.


Mentally ill get caught in revolving door to prison (N.C. Health News) -- Incarceration is not the best option for mentally challenged offenders: they don’t get the help they need and end up behind bars again. That’s what a study by North Carolina Central University graduate student Krystal Giles found. And Giles should know: she’s also a contracted transporter for involuntary commitment patients for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.


NC prosecutors directed to pursue mandatory sentences by AG Sessions (Public News Service) -- A directive from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions could shift additional burdens on the state's already crowded prison system and place a disproportionate number of minority defendants in jail. On Friday, Sessions announced he was directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences. Calling his new policy a return to the war on drugs of the 1980s and '90s. Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said the shift takes the nation backwards when it comes to handling offenders.


Hurricane victims need federal help (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- There's nothing politically partisan about the catastrophic impact Hurricane Matthew had on Eastern North Carolina. More than 82,000 households have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. Even today– more than six months after the storm – displaced families are staying in hotels because of a lack of rental units and low-income housing.


Rick Glazier: The 1% non-solution: NC needs more federal aid to rebuild after Matthew (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Last week, we learned the Trump administration will provide just $6.1 million to North Carolina to support the rebuilding of communities and address the damage to farms, Main Street businesses, and homes in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. This is a mere 1 percent of the request made to the federal government and a rounding error relative to the estimated $2.8 billion in investments that are truly needed to build a resilient region.


War of words between Dare and N.C. GOP chair (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- The ill will between the Dare County Republican Party and State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes intensified as the Dare GOP is calling on Hayes to resign. Hayes responded by characterizing the Dare Republicans’ position as “a false narrative” and “worse than petty.”


Richard Burr must stand tall (Kinston Free Press) -- For students of history and for those who were watching the news unfold 43 years ago, the events in Washington this week are setting off a heavy dose of deja vu. History, as it is wont to do, is repeating itself, at least to some degree. The similarities are hard to miss. President Donald Trump’s sacking of his FBI director bears a strong resemblance to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” firing of the Watergate special prosecutor in 1973.

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