A legislator’s take on the budget
POLITICIANS HAVE TO BE COMMITTED TO PEOPLE IN EQUAL MEASURES.
Two of the world’s most powerful women – Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – met earlier this week to begin addressing the practical matters behind Great Britain’s exit from EU. I love that our daughters, nieces, sisters, and girlfriends are learning to “expect” women leaders in positions of national power. CNN offers this brief comparison of the two powerhouses: Read More
The Republican National Convention has been running this week and let me just say you can’t make this stuff up. Among the highlights:
- a partially- plagiarized “wife of candidate” speech
- Ben Carson equating Hillary Clinton to Lucifer, the fallen angel,
- Gov. Christie leading the delegates in a call and response of “guilty” and “lock her up” as he spewed a prosecution-formatted speech against Clinton
- Ted Cruz, unable to keep a smirk off his face, as he delivered a self-promoting diatribe and exiting the stage to boos after instructing the delegates to “vote their consciences”
One Republican delegate from North Carolina exited the convention early. Bob Orr is former State Supreme Court Justice and Republican gubernatorial candidate. When interviewed by a reporter from our local WRAL, Orr responded saying that the nominee was dangerous and “singularly unqualified to lead this country.”Despite Orr’s opinion of Republican nominee Trump, our US Senators Burr and Tillis are reportedly excited about campaigning with the Presidential candidate as is US Representative Virginia Foxx. Burr may be hedging his bets though as he announced that this run for office will be his last.
If you have not read the New Yorker articles by Jane Mayer regarding Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter for Trump’s bestselling book The Art of The Deal, and his denunciation of his role in shaping the myth of Donald Trump, they are well worth your time.
As a recap of the recent GA short session, I want to share one legislator’s perspective on the negatives and positives of the budget that was passed in this General Assembly session. This information is taken directly from Representative (District 41) Gale Adcock’s Legislative Update, a newsletter she uses to keep her constituents informed of her actions and votes. Agree with her actions or not, this gives you a keen insight into her thinking.
Conference budget passes July 1
The major objective of the even-year short session is to adjust the biennial budget passed the previous year in the long session. This year’s budget adjustment was on the positive side, with money added for salaries, education, infrastructure and health services. While not perfect the budget that passed the House 91 to 22 funds many things that District 41 citizens care about.
The two-year $22.34 B budget is a comprehensive document that funds multiple policy decisions. After thoughtfully considering the best and worst in the bill, I voted for the budget.
In my view some of the biggest budget negatives…
- Once again shelving Jordan Lake rules and requiring redundant stakeholder meetings, additional rulemaking, and evaluation of yet another unscientific intervention for the pollutants in our drinking water (first solar bees; this time, fresh water mussels). I spoke against this during the floor debate.
- $10M more for private school vouchers
- $500,000 transferred from disaster relief to legal defense of HB2
- 1.5% raises for non-teacher state employees; bonuses equal to 0.5% of salary
- One-time 1.6% COLA bonus for state employee retirees
- No increase in TA positions to previous level
- No flexibility in use of TA funds to best meet schools’ instructional needs
…and some of the many budget positives:
EDUCATION, TEACHERS & STATE EMPLOYEES
- Higher teacher salaries, averaging 4.7% increases, raising average pay to $50,000
- Bonuses for 3rd grade reading teachers
- Pay raises for Highway Patrol troopers; state prison officers; assistant and deputy clerks of Superior Court; magistrates
- $2.5 M more for K-12 instructional supplies, materials & equipment
- $10 M increase in K-12 digital materials to $71.5 M total
- Permanent funding of high school drivers education
- $16.3 M returned to the UNC system for development activities
- UNC system in-state tuition freeze for incoming freshmen
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
- $7.7 M for graduate medical residency program at Cape Fear Medical Center
- 260 additional pre-K program slots, raising the total to 29,400
- 260 additional childcare subsidy slots
- $9.2 M to improve state and county child welfare programs
- $14.8 M to local health departments to offset decreases in Medicaid funding
- $20 M to implement recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health & Substance Abuse
- $1.5 M for 320 more Medicaid slots for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease
- $20 M from Dorothea Dix sale to mental health treatment for rural children
- Income tax standard deduction increase from $15,500 to $17,500 by 2017 for joint filers (standard deduction increases for all filers)
- $250,000 to increase access to fresh food in ‘food deserts’
- $1.4 M to complete Western Regional Crime Lab
- $2.2 M to outsource toxicology testing to reduce State Crime Lab backlog
- Continued funding of the Wright School, residential mental health treatment for NC children ages 6-12 with serious emotional and behavioral disorders