June 6, 2014
Don’t look now but Gov. Pat McCrory seems to be thinking about standing up to leaders of the General Assembly for a change. McCrory told a business group that the push by the House and Senate to repeal the Common Core education standards was “not a smart move.”
The business community and much of the education establishment support the standards, but repealing them has become a crusade for the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, who sees them either as a takeover by communists or the United Nations, depending on which conspiracy theory they believe at any given moment.
It probably strikes the N.C. Chamber of Commerce as odd that they are being accused of working in tandem with communist factions to take over public education.
The News & Observer quotes McCrory as saying he wasn’t ready to threaten to veto a bill that repealed the standards but would work with legislative leaders so that a veto wouldn’t be necessary.
That ought to be interesting. There doesn’t seem to be much room for compromise here. The far-right Republican base is demanding repeal and legislative leaders, including House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, are on the record supporting ending the standards.
A veto may be all that can stop the repeal.
But will McCrory use it to stand up to the General Assembly and the Tea Party?
It’s hard to be optimistic. He promised that last year’s tax reform would be revenue neutral and the bill he eventually signed costs the state $600 million a year.
But maybe he’ll find the political courage to take a stand for something. Maybe.
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If McCrory can find his veto stamp, he needs to keep it handy in case a charter school bill making its way through the General Assembly makes it to his desk. The bill was designed to change the appeals process for proposed charter schools that are denied approval. Troubling enough.
But the Charlotte Observer reports that Senate leaders are considering adding a provision to the legislation that would exempt charter schools from the state’s open records and open meetings laws — even though the schools are public schools funded with public money.
There is no possible justification for allowing charter schools to operate in secret other than some of them may have something to hide.
Charters are often described as laboratories of innovation. Hiding how public money is spent is an “innovation” we can do without.
The next thing you know, lawmakers will allow oil and gas companies to keep secret what toxic chemicals they are injected into the ground. Oh wait.
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Sen. Bill Rabon has an odd take on the revenue shortfall the state faces because of the tax cuts passed last year and the next round of reductions that goes into effect Jan. 1.
The budget the Senate passed last week with Rabon’s support makes massive cuts to education, Medicaid, and the court system to pay for a teacher raise scheme that gives teachers an 11 percent increase if they give up their career status protections.
Once Senate leaders decided not to revisit last year’s tax cuts or stop the new ones, cuts were the only way to come up with the money to fund a teacher pay hike.
The budget forecast initially included a $445 million revenue reduction because of the tax package. That grew by another $191 million by the time lawmakers convened to begin writing next year’s spending plan.
That all seems lost on Rabon somehow.
He recently told an audience in Brunswick County that the state still takes in more revenue than needed.
Apparently firing 7,400 teacher assistants and kicking thousands of aged, blind and disabled people off of Medicaid isn’t enough.
Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch.