For the week ending 14 May 2017
The Senate passed its $22.9 billion budget after 3am on Friday morning. The 800 page document (SB257, Appropriations Act of 2017) was presented during a press conference on Tuesday, May 9, and posted online late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the proposed budget cleared a series of committees and the required two votes in the Senate began on Thursday and wrapped up early Friday morning. The two votes cannot be held on the same day; therefore, the Senate went into recess after the first vote and reconvened after midnight for the final vote. Amendments offered by Democratic Senators were all voted down, and the budget passed 32-15 in a party line vote.
Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, defending HB2, 4/20/16. Photo Credit News and Observer
But in the process, the Republican leadership made a move of unparalleled pettiness and vindictiveness that hits a new political low. Frustrated by the delay created by the budget amendments offered by Democrats, the Republican leadership retaliated by slashing a million dollars in education funds from two poverty-stricken Democratic districts. See: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html, 5/13/17.
Read more about the Senate’s budget, which includes a billion-dollar tax cut package, and next steps for the budget, at NC NOW Legislative Update #15. You’ll also find updates on ERA, Lawsuits, and our bill tracking.
Political Consultant and Lobbyist (and Past NC NOW Lobbyist) Paula Wolf writes a letter to the editor (LTE) back to Indy Week, a triangle periodical. The whole LTE is shown here. The Indy carried the first 3 paragraphs of Paula’s LTE with some other input. The link to the Indy article is at the end.
With all due respect to the reporter, the “5 Things We Want to See From New Governor Roy Cooper,” 1/4/17, Indy, has some glaring oversights.
Women’s reproductive freedom has been trampled upon by the GOP since they got the majority in 2010. Mandatory scripts for doctors; transvaginal ultrasound; medically unnecessary building requirements; taxpayer funding of medically inaccurate information by anti choice “clinics” and defunding Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy prevention programs, to name a few. Access to healthcare is blockaded by not expanding Medicaid.
Fayetteville NOW joins protests against HB465 in May 2015. Hb465 is the bill that added tracking of women’s personal medical records and tracking of doctors to NC law. Roberta Waddle is speaking. Photo Credit: Hannah Osbourne
Posted in abortion, education, families, health care, reproductive rights, taxes, voting, women
Tagged abortion, education, poverty, reproductive rights, voting, women
“Instead of funding desperately needed 2 percent raises for state employees and a cost-of-living increase for retirees, the NC Senate budget continues diverting $582 million to a rainy day fund, which is too much money considering we are starving our public schools.”
Also, the NC Senate budget diverts more money for the voucher program and allows the funding to increase by $10 million each year through 2027. This means by 2027 the program would be receiving $145 million (adding $120 million to what they have already allocated to private schools via vouchers). More at “NC Senate Budget Would Dramatically Increase School Vouchers,” (WFAE, 6/1/16).
This shows where the NC Senate’s values are when it comes to public education.
North Carolina NOW Legislative Update
28 May 2016
This week the focus was still on the budget. The Senate has not yet released its proposed budget; however, it is expected to do so on Tuesday.
The Senate did release its plan for teacher pay raises, and the plan is significantly more ambitious (and costly) than the across-the-board raise averaging four percent in the House budget. See North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_5.28_May_2016 for more.
The House and Senate also disagree about how to phase in cuts to state income tax by raising the standard deduction. The House proposes to phase in the cuts over a period of four years, but the Senate wants to phase in the same cuts over a period of two years. See North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_5.28_May_2016 for more.
This year’s budget process began with both the House and the Senate agreeing to cap the budget at a little over $22 billion using a formula tied to population growth plus inflation instead of calculating what the citizens will need and figuring out how best to meet those needs. This formula also allows for reducing revenue by more tax cuts and not even spending all of the projected tax revenues (“leaving money on the table”).
Economic security was one of the topics covered in the morning of NC NOW’s state conference on Oct 10, 2015. Tazra Mitchell, Policy Analyst at NC’s Budget and Tax Center (BTC), spoke on economic security in NC, especially for women, due to changes in state budgets and policy. Mitchell’s work at BTC includes analysis of poverty, income inequality, and state fiscal policy.
Photo Credit: NC Budget and Tax Center
On the problems North Carolinians face, Mitchell pointed out that there are not enough jobs for people who want to work. 91 counties have more jobless workers than job openings. And the share of NC workers earning poverty wages is substantial, up from 2000. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Analysis of US Census Bureau data, in 2013, 31.3% of workers earned poverty wages (versus 25.6% in 2000).
Mitchell is also the Second Vice President of NC Women United, a coalition of progressive organizations committed to achieving full equality and empowerment for women. Slides from her presentation are available on NCWU’s website at http://www.ncwu.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Broken-Economic-Model-and-Policy-Keep-Economic-Security-Out-of-Reach-for-Many-Tar-Heel-Women.pdf
Mitchell wrote about the NC NOW Conference on behalf of NCWU at http://www.ncwu.org/nc-nows-annual-conference/
Read more on the state conference “NC NOW Conference Focuses Feminist Power“
Note: This post was written on Oct 22, 2015, but didn’t get posted until March 2015. Still completely relevant today.
Posted in Cheated out of pay, discrimination, economic justice, families, gender wage gap, ncga interference, taxes, Uncategorized
Tagged Economy, ncga interference, poverty, women
Sep. 12 – NC NOW Legislative Update #30
Why legislators want to insert policy changes into the budget
A budget agreement has been reached! But we won’t know the details until Monday (15 September). House and Senate negotiators reached an impasse, and Senator Berger and Speaker Moore worked together behind closed doors to reach the final deal. House rules require that the budget be publicly available for 72 hours before a vote. The plan is to allow budget committee members and party caucuses to review the budget over the weekend, release it to the public some time on Monday, and hold a vote by the end of next week to meet the third extension deadline of September 18. More in “NC legislators reach budget deal but aren’t releasing details” at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article34967892.html
Whatever has been negotiated is the final deal—the budget can only be voted up or down by the members and cannot be amended on the floor (now you understand why legislators want to insert policy changes into the budget). It is highly unlikely that any Republican members will vote against the budget.
The House Rejects the Senate’s Budget
The House has voted unanimously to reject the Senate budget (House Bill 97), and the final compromise budget will be negotiated by a conference committee behind closed doors. Considering what happened in the conference committee for House Bill 836: Election Modifications, it looks like anything goes.
House Bill 836: Election Modifications
In a surprise move, the conference committee on House Bill 836 added a provision to allow voting without the photo identification required under a law that will go into effect next year. The move was a complete surprise because the normal process for a conference committee is to work out a compromise bill by accepting some differences between the House and Senate versions and rejecting others. Although doing so is not explicitly prohibited, a conference committee adding entirely new material to a bill is unheard of—until now. Senator Josh Stein of Wake County called it a “joke of a process.”
The “Moral Monday Reunited” event on April 29, 2015, marked the 2 year anniversary of the first Moral Monday protest of immoral and cruel policies coming out of the NC General Assembly in Raleigh. Greensboro’s News and Record covered the event in “20 arrested at NC Legislature protesting GOP’s policies”. I believe my friend, Rabbi Ari Margolis, had the perfect response to a comment in the article. This response was part of the speech he gave onstage, completely independent of the article or the comment. At the end of the article, Todd Poole complains that the demonstrators are hiding under ‘a false cloak of morality.’ Ironic, since Moral Monday demonstrators are protesting immoral (and cruel) actions of the NCGA.
Rabbi Margolis said in his speech, “While I believe in the separation of church and state, as long as there are those passing a legislative agenda in the name of their religious ideas and beliefs, we have the obligation to stand up and let them know that they do not own a monopoly on religious thought.
Posted in economic justice, families, health care, jobs, Medicaid, ncga interference, public education, taxes, women
Tagged Families, Moral Monday, ncga interference, public education