Today @NCCapitol (June 10): House budget plan highlights differences with the Senate
Posted June 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, June 10. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
BUDGET: The North Carolina House of Representatives released its version of the state budget Sunday night – a $20.57 billion proposal that appears close, overall, to the Senate spending plan in terms of overall spending but deeply divided on issues of policy and priorities.
House budget subcommittees began reviewing and making changes to the budget on Friday. As noted last week, the two chambers are divided on education policy as well as other items, such as whether to move the State Bureau of Investigation from the Department of Justice to the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
Overall, the House budget spends only $12 million less than the Senate did in the coming year. But it sets aside far less money for tax reform. It puts somewhat less money into education in order to plow more into the state's Medicaid program. And the House's spending plan appears to contain far less policy than its Senate counterpart. The House budget bill is more than 100 pages shorter than the Senate bill.
The House budget gives state workers five vacation days, but doesn't offer any raises. However, it does put back a salary supplement for teachers with advanced degrees that the Senate had stripped away.
CALENDAR: House Speaker Thom Tillis and other top House leaders will talk about their proposed budget during a 3:30 p.m. news conference.
Both the House and Senate will go into session at 7 p.m. tonight. Unofficially, there are expected to be more Moral Monday demonstrations (see below) between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
In the House, lawmakers will take a second vote on their tax reform plan and are expected to vote through a bill that would redraw the boundaries from which Wake County school board members are elected.
WRAL.com will carry the House floor session live at 7 p.m. Check the Video Central box on the home page.
In the Senate, lawmakers will give final legislative approval to a bill that allows for increased interest rates on small consumer loans.
TAXES: North Carolinians would see their income tax rates drop, but opponents say many people will end up paying more taxes overall, under a bill the state House gave tentative approval to on Friday. Lawmakers voted 72-32 in favor of the bill, which faces another debate and vote on Monday night before moving to the Senate. Senators are working on their own version of a tax reform bill that is markedly different from the House version.
On the Record: Tax reform proposals ON THE RECORD: WRAL News anchor David Crabtree and Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie go "On the Record" with Alexandra Sirota of the NC Budget and Tax Center and John Hood of the John Locke Foundation about proposed reforms to the state tax system.
REPUBLICANS: The North Carolina Republican Party elected Claude Pope of Brunswick County as their chairman. Pope was widely expected to win the post after securing the backing of both Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. Pope is cousin to McCrory budget director and GOP financier Art Pope.
During the convention, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour warned Republicans not to seek "purity" over electoral success.
“You don’t win through purity,” he told delegates at a luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center, according to the Charlotte Observer. “(Don’t) let purity and perfection get in the way of uniting.” Unity was the theme as North Carolina Republicans gathered for the second day of their annual state convention.
PROTESTS: The state budget and proposed tax changes have been two of the focuses of the "Moral Monday" protests, lead by the NAACP. The demonstrations, which are also backed by unions and liberal groups, have lead to more than 300 arrests over three weeks and are expected to continue today.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory say they are unbowed by the protests, describing demonstrators as "outsiders" who are trying to thwart the GOP's electoral mandate.
"Outsiders are coming in and they're going to try to do to us what they did to Scott Walker in Wisconsin," McCrory told the Associated Press this weekend. Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin passed a contentious law in 2011 that stripped most state workers' collective bargaining rights. The law sparked massive protests at the state Capitol that generated national publicity for Walker. "They are going to come in and try to change the subject. And I'm not going to let them. I'm going to concentrate on the economy, education and government efficiency."Meanwhile, debate over the protests and their effect rages elsewhere. Melissa Harris-Perry, a personality with the left-leaning news channel MSNBC, aired a lengthy piece on the protests Saturday, including an interview with state NAACP President William Barber.
On the other side of the political spectrum, state Sen. Thomas Goolsby published an opinion piece over the weekend terming the demonstrations "Moron Monday" rallies. From the piece:
Several hundred people – mostly white, angry, aged former hippies – appeared and screeched into microphones, talked about solidarity and chanted diatribes. It was “liberal theater” at its best. Just like having a honey bun and double espresso for breakfast, the impact of it all left the participants jittery and empty in the end.
Never short on audacity, the Loony Left actually named their gathering “Moral Monday.” Between the screaming, foot stomping and disjointed speeches, it appeared more like “Moron Monday.” The gathering was supposed to influence legislators. However, no one thought to bring out any senate or house member from either party.
The gathering was a field day for the Raleigh press corps who came out in large numbers for the extravaganza. In a carefully orchestrated parade, photographers and videographers walked backwards as Barber and his minions strolled into an empty General Assembly Building to voice more complaints and engage in several rounds of sing-along. Even more press showed up to document the standard-bearers of liberalism who were politely arrested by General Assembly Police and escorted away well before session started. These “brave souls” can now claim hero status for all the courage they showed by standing up against the Radical Right.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from eastern North Carolina, said in a press release Friday that he would join the protests this week. From his release:
“As a participant in the 1963 March on Washington, and as a former civil rights attorney, I have seen firsthand how peaceful, civil demonstrations can affect change. Based on the turnout at the General Assembly over the past few weeks, change is already being realized. What began as a group of ten has grown to thousands of protesters standing up for what is right.
“I will join them in sending a strong message to the Republican-led state legislature: they cannot continue to ignore the concerns of the people. They cannot put politics before people. And they cannot make blind and uninformed decisions that bring dire consequences to North Carolinians.
“I believe that these demonstrations will continue until the Republican-led legislature abandons their dearth of consciousness and moves toward a more balanced agenda that reflects the needs of all its citizens.”
Faith leaders are expected to lead tonight's protests. In a joint statement, senior Catholic, Episcopal and other faith leaders spoke out on behalf of the movement. From their news release:
Our concern about the legislative actions cited by Rev. Dr. Sadler is not an act of political partisanship. Rather it is a matter of faith with respect to our understanding of the biblical teachings and imperatives to protect the poor, respect the stranger, care for widows and children and love our neighbors (Isaiah 10:12, Hebrews 13:2, James 1:27, Matthew 22:39, Galatians 5:14). We recognize and respect other Christian brothers and sisters who may seek to apply these biblical teachings in different ways and through different means.
We speak and act in love and through our understanding that our first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, and we do so always as faithful citizens of the democratic process. We urge all Christians to witness to their faith in seeking justice and mercy for all.
MORE NEWS: Other stories we were following this weekend includes:
HYBRIDS: North Carolina is joining a growing number of states exploring new fees for hybrid and electric car owners to help make up for revenue those drivers aren't paying in gas taxes on their fuel-efficient vehicles.
FOXX: Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx could see his prospects to become the new U.S. transportation secretary improving. Foxx's nomination is scheduled for a hearing Monday by the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He received praise from both Democrats and Republicans during a Senate confirmation hearing last month.
FRACKING: State House lawmakers agreed Friday to set a March 2015 date for North Carolina to begin issuing permits for shale gas mining, or "fracking." However, the House's version of Senate Bill 76 is significantly more cautious than the Senate's.
The Senate's original "fast-track" version would have allowed fracking to begin on March 1, 2015, without legislative approval. The House version allows the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue permits on that date but says lawmakers must approve the state's regulatory framework before those permits would be considered valid.
LAROQUE: A federal jury on Friday found former Rep. Stephen LaRoque guilty of fraud and misappropriation of funds. The Kinston Republican administered a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program for small-business development, but prosecutors say he directed the loan money to friends and family and might have used some for campaign expenses. They said he also lied on USDA documents and filed false tax returns.