TheWrap@NCCapitol (Nov. 18, 2021): State budget, election rules, redistricting shuffle
After more than two years without a state budget, officials wasted little time in enacting one this week.
Good afternoon, Welcome to the thursday edition of the Rap. I'm laura Leslie WRL Capital Bureau chief and I'm Travis fain W Orioles, Statehouse Reporter and it's almost we're almost over. It's almost over folks. That's what they're telling us. Yeah, welcome back again to the show that needs to end any day now. Right? Uh so right now, just just within the last few minutes, the House has given final approval approval rather to the state budget. It's going to cooper now, who's already said he's gonna sign it? So not a lot of suspense there. Just a question of when today's vote 101 to 10, very similar to yesterday's 1 to 4 to 10. So very strong bipartisan support. So it's just a question of when I guess. Yeah. And it's interesting how quickly things can become bipartisan when there's no veto on the table, right? Like how quickly things can be supported. Of course this is a budget that has a lot in it for everybody. You know, having a bunch of money, a much federal money. Sometimes it complicates things, but sometimes it makes things a lot easier. Yeah, I mean, it's like I've said before, it's kind of tough to say, yeah, we want you to vote against $2800 bonuses for teachers. Yeah, go ahead. See how that plays out next fall. Yeah, I mean, just I got a story running this weekend. It's like some other things that are in the budget, you know, beyond the headlines. So we look for that on into capital on sunday burger last night. Senator Phil Berger, we were talking to him after the Senate session. He said some interesting things. First of all, he was defending the low wealth teacher supplements. Uh, these are the supplements that are going to boost salaries and 95 out of 100 counties, you might say, well, how come you're not the other five? That's wake Mecklenburg bunkum Guilford. No, I don't think it's Durham. All right, well, there's four of them. You can go look at the 5th star and you know, Democrats a little concerned because those are democratic counties, they just have to be counties that pay the highest teacher supplements as it is it. Well, yeah, I mean, the form is more complicated than that. But I mean, the the idea is these are counties that at least can afford to pay uh, teacher supplements based on their tax base. But what, what I'm kind of coming the long way around the barn to say is burger called that the best 100 million in the budget. He said that he really, I mean, he really believes in this program. It's clear that that this is going to be something that's gonna be a big deal going forward. He said he was open to tweaking the formula in future years more money in future years. I mean, this is like, dare we say it? The Republican leandro answer. Yeah, it is. Um, and at least part of it. Right? I mean that is criticism that we heard a lot yesterday on the Senate floor and in the House, you know about the fact that the bill does not fully fund leandra, even though the state manifestly had enough money. But you know, republicans are saying, you know, we've added additional money in education were doing a lot of what the plan already calls for, they're just not doing all of it. So it stands to be seen whether or not judge lee is going to look at what they've done in this budget and say they did enough or say, yeah, go ahead and release the 1.7. Another thing Berger said last night we were, he was asked about Elizabeth City State University, which is a good bit of money. I mean a lot of universities, it seems like get a good bit of money in this, but they're getting a good bump. And he said that he felt like they had been short changed for 100 years and yeah, and he said, look, no one can deny it. He said that he's been there several times and when he looked around, he felt good about the administration, felt good about the faculty but he looked at the facilities and just thought I wouldn't, I wouldn't drop my kids off here basically. And so it was just an hbcu did pretty well in this place. You ever think that generally agreed on Donny Lambeth House budget writer said yesterday it was the biggest boost they'd ever gotten. Roy cooper also pointed that out in his, when he made a statement on Tuesday about saying the budget. I think that's notable and I also think it's noticeable that, you know, a white Senate Republican leader and Phil berger is acknowledging, yes, we have short changed and it is long standing. I just think that's worth noting and it's something they told reporters last time. Absolutely. So, uh, there is plenty of one on besides the budget today. Um, in fact, there are about three or four bills, three really elections bills on the House floor right now, even as we speak, uh, that are being debated, one of them is a bill that George Cleveland, Representative George Cleveland on what kind of he has run this. I don't know how many times. Um, just about every session I think, but it's a bill that would basically require a Clerk of court uh, to report. Okay, so let's say I get a jury summons and I say I'm not going to serve this because I'm not a citizen. Well, the clerk of court would have to mail that to the elections board so they could make sure and check that against my name and address on the books to make sure that I'm not a registered voter. Um, and so they, so they could remove me from the voting rolls if I'm not a citizen or they could prosecute me for illegal voting, one of the two. now, even represented Cleveland says he doesn't know how big this problem is. Yeah. And it's something that the late great Mark banker looked at pretty closely years ago when he was in my job. And you know, you always, when you see this, some group says, oh, there's X 100 people that fit this criteria that have, that have said they're not a citizen and we question them and then you start to go through them in just one by one, they fall away. There's some reason it's there came a citizen, they had the same name as from somebody. I mean, there's always, it always looks like it until you start digging into the data. And, and it turns out you've got eight at the end of the day. And, uh, you know, a big concern is some of this information will be posted online. And there's a kind of this concern that there's some sort of anti immigrant vigilante ism would be spawned. There would be aided their, um, but I mean, what, what's really kind of interesting here beyond the immigration issue, which is clearly the point of the bill is like people lying about jury duty. Yeah. And you know what, while I'm not particularly sympathetic to people who do that. We let liars vote in this country all. And it's probably a good thing for a lot of politicians that we do. Um, so you're gonna point that out, uh, yeah, another bill on the floor today would basically, and this one passed already. It was um, roll back the day for absentee ballots, a deadline to election Day and about half the kind of about half the states in the country, according to the bill's backers in the house. Resident gray mills already require those ballots to arrive by election day. Ours are regard to arrive by friday. And the thinking is like, well, if an election is not final on election day, people start to question it. I that seems to be fairly, a fairly new concern. I assume it's trump driven, it's, you know, it's, it's driven by the big lies and it has kind of become to be known around the country. I think a lot of it too is because last year during the covid epidemic, we had to, we extended that deadline for additional days and it'd be a court case when the legislature had said he did not want to do it. A judge change state law. Right? So, and that was, and that was a case where the male had slowed down so much that they were concerned that people would mail them and would not get there by friday under law. So, I mean, granted, you know, they're pointing out here in this debate that that tends to be a fungible deadline anyway. They'd like to make it rock solid on election Day. Yeah. I mean, I think I've said this every time we talk about voting laws like this, we're talking about votes at the margins, right? It's not gonna be a lot of ballots. It was quite a few. It was about 800 I think, or something. Yeah. In a state of 10 million people. I mean, I understand they're not, they're not all eligible to vote and they certainly don't. I mean, I'll tell you what, let's get 100% registration of voter participation. Let's see if these problems just go away, I suppose. Uh, and then the last one that they're working on right now, probably as we're recording, this is a bill that would ban private funding for elections. And this comes out of money that flowed, uh, from a couple of foundations last year in California to various elections board, including some of the state and some in Georgia to help them pay for the poll workers and some of the covid protection gear that they would need. Yeah, I mean, yeah, we all know money comes with no strings attached in politics. The right, I mean, isn't that how campaign donations work? You can take money from someone. But that doesn't mean anything. But the point was made in a rules committee meeting yesterday by somebody who was actually a county elections administrator that the poll workers don't know where the money comes. Of course they don't, um, you know, but the argument was made by the Senate senator paul Newton, who was the primary sponsor the bill, that neither side wants the other side to start bankrolling elections because this is a slippery slope that could get ugly quickly, you know? And given the current political environment, it could happen real quickly, which makes sense. And I think, you know who, I didn't know this was happening until this past cycle. I don't think I even knew it until after the election, that it was happening if you went out and talk to normal people on the street and said, hey, did you know, private foundations are providing money director counties to help them run elections? I think they probably generally say no, I did not know that. Tell me more. I'm not sure it sounds like a good idea. Well, Senator Newton said yesterday that there's more, much more money now in the budget for elections, but the elections director that testified said there is not enough money, there's just not enough money. And so, you know, especially with wages having to go up and workers being hard to find. So it sounds like there's a problem here, definitely a problem. But it's not like a problem that legislators think that they need to fix themselves. And of course, I don't know, you know, how much is enough. But I will note the 2.8 million and have the funds, federal funds, uh, that got re upped it had fallen out of the budget. Uh, elections board, state election board. So they're gonna have to let go like 30 people because of it. That money is back in its part of the final budget. You want to run through a little one other thing, I mean, you know what? I'm not gonna mention it, get it to you next week. It's big huge. No, it's not really. Um so we're kind of trying to track all the people who are considering changing their district, Changing their chamber, changing their race is uh, there's a lot of them. I mean, you get a lot of that whenever you redraw maps. I mean, honestly, you know, you do, but, but, but there's an awful lot this year. So, you know, we're seeing um, today, I think 1/4 fourth house representative now who is going to run for Senate. We know about bobby. Hey, ***, Derrick County. We knew Gayla Adcock in Wake County and I'm Hunt, yep, that she's in Mecklenburg County. Right, That sounds right. I actually, yes, I did not know Rachel Hunt, Mecklenburg County and now we learned today. Greg Meyer in Orange County. Yeah, he'll he'll step over and run for Valerie, who she sees who we learned is going to run for Price's district Congressman Price is retiring. Uh, so, you know, she is at the moment, apparently sort of the best organized person to get into that race. She's gonna be running against. We think Wylie nickel and also need a alone from, from Durham and I don't probably cast of thousands, I think. Well, and maybe a Floyd McKissick who's at the state utilities commission, former state senator. He apparently is concerned. I haven't heard that from him, but I've heard it from enough other people where I believe it what he'll decide. I don't know which would actually leave two seats open on the state utilities commission. I don't want to take us too far a field here, but I mean that's a three member board that deals with really, really complicated issues. I don't know what the holdup has been on replacing the one open seat, but having two of 11 would would be I think an issue. Um the Senate, you know, senator mike would uh, last night was saying it made a good point. The Senate Democratic caucus is gonna look a lot different next year because, I mean, just with people stepping aside to run for higher office, you got nickel, you got Jeff Jackson, uh Senator fu xi you got Don Davis who's going to run for G. K. Butterfield butterfield supposed to announce today that he's retiring. And from everything we've heard, Don Davis, that's sort of the chosen successor at this point, although it sounds like a former Senator. Erica smith may also step into that. It's not clear at this point whether or not she'll do that today or perhaps in the future. Yeah. And and so, you know, who knows how much turmoil isn't the right word, but how much that will roil the water, The water's butterfield retiring in the east. And then the other one is Ben Clark. Senator Ben Clark may run for Congress against maybe a Republican House member, john Szoka, right. We're hearing that has been introducing himself at events recently as it gets a congressional candidate. So having gotten confirmation of that yet, but we're working on that. Of course. So anyway, that's five Senate democrats we've just named and then there's some others certainly, Mark Natasha Marcus got drawn out of hers. That's right, Kobe fish got drawn into a Republican leaning district. That's gonna be a tough race for him to stay in the Senate. Um, and then there was another one I thought there, and I'm looking at my list. Yeah, Bass more Bass more got drawn into a Republican district. So, I mean, there's a there's a lot that can be a lot of new Democratic bases next. Yeah, I mean, there's 21 democrats in the state Senate right now. So I think we just covered about 10 of I think we got eight. So it's It's a lot and that's just what we know or have heard about. So there will be more to come quite possibly. And that's about all I've got, you know, we've got a ton of budget coverage on the website, we've got a story. I mean, you know, we're gonna, I mean, you gotta remember, we're looking at about 700 page budget bill and then an even larger sort of money report which details of spending. And we got that monday afternoon. So there's a lot of digging yet. Today there's digging yet today we've got a number of followers queued up. We got documents last night uh from an open records request conveniently filled after negotiations ended on the budget. That shows us a little bit about what the governor was demanding as the budget process went forward. What republicans were and weren't willing to give. They were at one point willing to strike the emergency powers change. Uh But it ended up being in the final budget we've got. So I've got a story about that on N. C. Capital. I just kind of recommend that to you as opposed to trying to go through it all here. Well it sounds like these guys are going to be taking next week off to the best to the best of my knowledge anyway at this point. Uh And then the week after thanksgiving they're expected to come back. Of course we're expecting to see the technical corrections, the budget technical corrections, various appointments bills. You know happening that week. There are a few things still in conference committee although none look real pressing to me that haven't already been dealt with in other pieces of legislation except the one that has to do with public records of state employees. There's still two versions of that in conference committee. So we could see that one emerged. But other than that, I don't know that they have a whole lot left to do. And I think what you'll see is some sort of non adjournment adjournment where they're technically still in session. They show up every now and then for a skeleton in part, at least, probably in very large part because The maps are, there are three lawsuits now targeting the new maps. We don't know what a judge is going to do with that with a violin starts December six. So a judge may or may not delay that uh, the legislature will have to react at some point at some point. So they won't be gone for too long anyway. So we will, we'll probably give it a miss next week for thanksgiving unless something big happens. But other than that, we'll see you the week after here on the rap and happy thanksgiving.