Under new budget, more schools deemed “low-performing.” The state budget compromise approved last week changes the definition of a “low-performing school” in a way that greatly expands the number of schools with the designation — a move that critics say serves to undermine low-income schools that are showing progress. Read more here.
An NC budget that chooses decline over investment. Middle- and low-income wage earners won’t see a meaningful boost from the tax cuts. But they will feel the bite of an expanded sales tax that applies to the cost of auto and household repairs. And they’ll see a state in decline, its public schools strapped, its public employees stiffed for yet another year and its infrastructure fraying. Read more here.
McCrory gives state employees a video thanks instead of a raise. In a case of perfect timing, Governor Pat McCrory released a video Friday morning thanking state employees for their service to North Carolina and declaring next week State Employee Recognition Week. Later in the morning McCrory signed a state budget that denies most state employees a raise, instead giving them a one-time $750 bonus that will not count toward their retirement. Read more here.
Growing dependence on sales tax will bring issues. Expanding the sales tax to cover two more consumer services isn’t a hard blow in the grand scheme of things. But it’s a trend. Legislative leaders say it’s a step toward sharply increasing the sales-tax burden and eventually eliminating income taxes.
The sales tax is the most regressive form of taxation. It disproportionately affects the poor, who have little savings or investment money, and favors the rich, who have money to spare after they pay taxes on necessities. Read more here.
NC August unemployment rate at highest point during the year. August marks a fifth consecutive month in which the state’s unemployment rate is higher than the nationwide average as it continues to diverge from a national rate that has been generally declining for several months, according to figures released on Friday by the N.C. Department of Commerce. Read more here.
North Carolina judge allows voter Id lawsuit to continue. A judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s photo identification requirement to vote that starts next year, even though lawmakers recently eased the mandate for some without IDs wishing to cast ballots. Read more here.
NC Primaries all moved to March. North Carolina lawmakers agreed Thursday to hold next year’s primary elections March 15, a move designed to increase state influence in choosing presidential nominees but that also will accelerate decision-making by potential candidates for hundreds of elected positions. Democrats opposed to the change say moving up the primary will benefit incumbents because potential primary opponents would have to decide two months earlier to get in the race and raise campaign funds more quickly. The candidate filing period would begin Dec. 1. Read more here.
NC Legislature approves Medicaid privatization. The state began moving toward managed care for Medicaid recipients Tuesday despite a persistent group of dissenters who argue that the plan rejects a system run by doctors that for years has helped hold down costs. Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican, said arguments that Medicaid costs were out of control are wrong, and that it is a mistake to invite into the state commercial HMOs, which “have failed repeatedly in North Carolina.” “We need reform in North Carolina that is based on caring for our citizens, not for a group of stockholders,” Dollar said. Read more here.