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Today @NCCapitol (March 21): Dix and Panthers bill hit committee as lawmakers look at McCrory's budget

Posted March 21, 2013

— Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, March 21. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.

DIX: Senators begin work today on a bill that would tear up a lease between the state and the City of Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix property. The lease deal, signed by former Gov. Bev Perdue, was designed to turn much of the 325 acre campus into a park.

The Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear from speakers on the issue today and is likely to vote to send the measure to the full Senate. WRAL.com will carry the meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page. The committee is due to meet 15 minutes after a joint House-Senate budget meeting, which should be approximately 10:15 a.m.

"I said at the time it was signed we wanted to take another look at it," Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said of the deal Wednesday. Berger, the president pro tempore of the chamber, said the deal crafted by the outgoing Democratic governor in December was done in haste, ignoring the potential opportunity for state agencies to use the property and giving up too much to the city. 

"Gov. Perdue worked out an arrangement that was totally unfair to the taxpayers of the state," Berger said. 

While some members of Wake County's delegation to the legislature, mostly Democrats, have criticized the state for going back on its deal, other members of the Wake delegation appear to back the idea of renegotiating the Dix deal.

"This deal with rushed at the last minute," said Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake." "That's why it seems to be in the interest of the state to take another look." 

PANTHERS: The House Finance Subcommittee on Occupancy Taxes will meet at 9 a.m. today and take a look at the bill that would allow Charlotte to use existing hotel and restaurant taxes to pay for improvements to the Carolina Panthers NFL stadium. The bill, which cleared the House Government Committee last week, does not put any state tax dollars in the stadium and would not allow the local government to raise any new money. Still, the measure has been somewhat controversial, with some conservative and liberal lawmakers alike objecting to any public money going toward the well-heeled sports franchise.

Gov. McCrory unveils budget McCrory unveils budget proposal BUDGET: House and Senate Budget writers will meet from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. to review Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed state budget, which he unveiled Wednesday. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on the home page.

The proposal drew a warm reception from Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, both of who said the governor's budget contained good ideas. That's a much warmer reception than they ever gave spending plans by Perdue, a Democrat, and is friendlier that the reception Perdue and her predecessor, Mike Easley, often got from lawmakers when Democrats controlled the chamber. 

Overall, the governor placed a great deal of emphasis on rebuilding reserve funds and repairing government assets like information technology systems and state buildings. 

McCrory did not propose any new taxes, saying only that he believed any tax reform effort by the General Assembly should be "revenue neutral." He did, of course, make dozens of suggestions on changes to policy and spending, including trimming the number of teaching assistants paid for by the state in favor of more fully certified teachers. He also proposed some items that the current General Assembly leadership rejected during the last legislative session, such as funding for drug courts and compensation for victims of North Carolina's eugenics program. 

Art Pope NC budget chief discusses spending plan "Everything in the governor's budget will get a look," Berger said.

The budget also includes 1 percent raises for teachers and state employees. 

Legislative Democrats immediately attacked the measure, with Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, calling it "a smokescreen for an assault on the middle class." Others outside the legislature were more measured in their criticism but no less concerned.

"I am very concerned by the magnitude of the new cuts proposed for our campuses, particularly in light of the more than $400 million in permanent budget reductions we absorbed two years ago," UNC System President Tom Ross said. McCrory and budget director Art Pope argued that much of the cut to the UNC system would be replaced by increases to out-of-state tuition fees. 

Also of note, the budget cuts funding for the Gold Leaf Fund, a program designed to boost economic development in rural communities, while putting more money into other economic development programs.

McCrory's proposal kicks off roughly four months of wrangling over the state spending plan{{/a}}.

The Wrap @NCCapitol (March 20) The Wrap @NCCapitol (March 20) WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker break down the budget and other action from Wednesday in The Wrap @NCCapitol.

SENATE: The full Senate will meet at 11 a.m. today. Among the 10 measures on the calendar is a bill that would let the state take over local water and sewer systems run by cities if those systems are losing money or in other sorts of financial distress. The measure appears to be aimed, at least in part, at a dispute over Asheville's water and sewer system.

HOUSE: The full House is scheduled to meet at 12:30 p.m. The chamber has five bills on its calendar, including one that would remove information with regards to concealed handgun permit holders from public view. As originally filed, the measure would have allowed concealed handgun permit holders to carry their weapons into establishments where alcohol is sold and consumed, such as bars and restaurants. However, a Judiciary subcommittee removed that part of the bill Wednesday. 

WEDNESDAY: If you missed them, other stories from Wednesday included:

FOXX: "President Barack Obama is considering Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for secretary of transportation, according to two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday," The Charlotte Observer reports.

43 Comments

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  • beaupeep Mar 21, 2013

    "Never said they should but the STATE IS INVOLVED."

    All they're saying is they can't raise taxes. They can spend what they got the way they want to.

  • unclegrits Mar 21, 2013

    "Tell me why the State SHOULD tell Charlotte what to do with it's own money?"

    Never said they should but the STATE IS INVOLVED.

  • beaupeep Mar 21, 2013

    "For conservatives that say taxes won't be used:"

    Yes. CHARLOTTE levied tax dollars. NOT State dollars.

    Tell me why the State SHOULD tell Charlotte what to do with it's own money?

  • beaupeep Mar 21, 2013

    "It does not state that state taxes or new local taxes can not be used to back-fill the original programs the hotel/beverage taxes were meant for. You think those programs will now just disappear?"

    Yes, if that's what Charlotte decides to do.

    In any event, they will not be backfilled with State dollars.

  • unclegrits Mar 21, 2013

    For conservatives that say taxes won't be used:

    The House Finance Subcommittee on Occupancy Taxes will meet at 9 a.m. today and take a look at the bill that would allow Charlotte to use existing hotel and restaurant taxes to pay for improvements to the Carolina Panthers NFL stadium.

  • European American Mar 21, 2013

    It appears that some of our more liberal bloggers this morning have a reading comprehension issue. The committee said NO TO STATE TAX DOLLARS going toward the stadium-Hear that again NO STATE TAX DOLLARS.

    DUH!!! NO State or New Local taxes will go "TO" the stadium. Agreed! State taxes and new local taxes will have to go to the programs to make up the money lost from the Hotel/Beverage taxes going "TO" the stadium. Man, people just can't comprehend anything these days unless you hold their hand and walk them completely through it.

  • baldchip Mar 21, 2013

    It appears that some of our more liberal bloggers this morning have a reading comprehension issue. The committee said NO TO STATE TAX DOLLARS going toward the stadium-Hear that again NO STATE TAX DOLLARS.

    You know-maybe they just didn't read the article-just went to attack mode since Republicans are in charge!!! Humm-sound familiar?? "We'll have to read the bill to see what's in it"
    after Nancy Pelowsi told folks to vote for Obamacare!!

    Politics 101-read before commenting!!

  • jjsmith1973 Mar 21, 2013

    "Maybe we should go back to the days when the Democrats were killing off the minorities? Or how about we go back to when they were forcing sterilizations on people that the Democrats deemed needed it? They were certainly up front about it.

    Damien Thorne
    March 21, 2013 10:21 a.m."

    Sorry, you want to take old dems from 30 years ago and make it like they are the same now. Most of those dems, are GOP now or have changed. Unlike GOP which has gone backwards. You obviously don't understand what progression, education, and learning from historical mistakes is.

  • European American Mar 21, 2013

    "Read between the lines", is that another way of saying "Look what I made up"? Looking at the article it does not allow for any tax hikes that could be associated with it, so that has to be made up.

    Looking, and Comprehending, are completely different. And you failed the comprehension part. State taxes can not be put directly into the stadium, nor any new local taxes can be raised for the stadium. It does not state that state taxes or new local taxes can not be used to back-fill the original programs the hotel/beverage taxes were meant for. You think those programs will now just disappear?

  • jjsmith1973 Mar 21, 2013

    "Its been 2 months! Settle down already, you had 100 years of doing it your way and it wasnt working anymore, the voters saw that and CHANGED it. Change is good remember?

    Crumps Br0ther"

    One your 100 year comment is incorrect, which I notice you are incorrect in most of your post. Two) Change is good, regression isn't. Sorry, that you refuse to grow up with the times and I'm sorry it isn't how it was 30 years ago. I'm sure you enjoy the money the growth has brought you while you cry constantly about it. The only tears to collect are yours. Even when you won you still cry. The streamlined crazy controlled state legislation is passing laws and rules faster then you can bat an eye to turn back to the stone age. Wait ten years and see what happens it won't be so pretty, but you will have your good old NC back, broke. With a losing football team, but well funded by your taxes and dumb children.

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