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Updated: 9 min 23 sec ago

School voucher hearing at Supreme Court postponed

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 13:24
For those thinking about attending tomorrow’s scheduled state Supreme Court has oral arguments on the state’s school vouchers law, the court has rescheduled until NEXT Tuesday due to the inclement weather. let’s hope the justices spend some of their time reading op-eds like this one that ran in Greensboro News Record over the weekend. As ...

New report: Data show that majority of NC business incentive programs don’t work

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 10:56
As Chris Fitzsimon reported in this morning’s “Monday numbers,” analyst Allan Freyer of the N.C. Justice Center has released a new and damning report today on North Carolina’s business incentives programs. This is from the release that accompanied the report (“Picking Losers: Why the Majority of NC’s Incentives Programs End in Failure”): “If North Carolina ...

So-called budget “surplus” shown to be nothing but Jones Street hocus-pocus

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 07:19
In case you missed it, Tazra Mitchell of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center had a great letter to the editor in Raleigh’s News & Observer over the weekend that exposed the silly story state lawmakers have concocted in order to create the illusion that everything is now fine with state budget. As Tazra explains: ...

Sights and Sounds from the 2015 HKonJ Moral March (audio postcard)

Sat, 02/14/2015 - 14:24
Education funding, Medicaid expansion, voting rights, stagnant wages, and racial justice were just a few of the reasons that brought demonstrators to downtown Raleigh Saturday for this year’s HKonJ Moral March.

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 15:22
1. The flawed formula for North Carolina’s A-F school grades  At East Garner Elementary School, Principal Kimberly Burton asked her teachers what they really needed to help their students succeed. Their answer? Time. In the face of so many challenges and obstacles – designing new curricula aligned with Common Core, teaching a large population of ...

Five bills you may have missed this week, but will want to keep on your radar

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 12:57
1. Omnibus Economic Development Improvements - This bill introduced by Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) and Rep. Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenberg) would restore the Film Incentive and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. House Bill 89 also calls for the the state Earned Income Tax Credit to be re-established, which ended in 2014. 2. Disapprove MEC Oil and ...

Final weekend to sign-up for coverage on

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 09:55
North Carolinains who want to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) have until Sunday to do so. Officials in charge of say that 480,000 Tar Heel residents have signed-up or had their coverage renewed on the marketplace since mid-November. Remarkably 92 percent of those consumers have qualified for financial ...

What the Right just doesn’t get about the Moral Marches

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 07:03
In an apparent effort to provide air “both sides” of the issue, Raleigh’s News & Observer posted two essays side-by-side this morning on its editorial page — one extolling the growing movement for justice in North Carolina by Rev. Barber of the North Carolina NAACP and the other an editorial criticizing it from the Lenoir ...

Burying objections to Medicaid expansion under an “avalanche of facts”

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 16:27
Today in the Joint Appropriations Committee at the NC General Assembly there was a suggestion that closing the insurance coverage gap in states has proven much more expensive than first anticipated. Just after the conclusion of our legislative meeting Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear held a press conference addressing this very issue. In his statement to the media ...

As state Senate slashes his agency, NC’s DOT Secretary Tony Tata…goes on Hannity?

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:21
It appears that North Carolina’s Transportation Secretary is really fired up and ready to battle over the state Senate’s plan to lay off 5% of his workforce as part of it’s rather odd “cut the rate first/raise it later” gas tax plan. How else to explain his decision to spend the evening immediately after the ...

Senate passes gas tax hike; several improvements needed

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 12:17
The Senate finalized its hurried approval of a new gas tax proposal today and as Budget and Tax Center analyst Tazra Mitchell explained yesterday, there are actually some things to like in it. Most notable among these is the bill’s recognition that tax rates will have to rise in the coming months and years to ...

As affirmative action lands again in the U.S. Supreme Court, the challenge to UNC admissions policies lands before NC’s newest federal judge, Loretta Copeland Biggs

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:21
Affirmative action is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case with implications for admissions policies at UNC-Chapel Hill. In a reprise of a case that the high court first addressed in 2013, attorneys for Abigail Fisher — a white student denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin allegedly because of ...

Hear from Chapel Hill shooting victim Yusor Abu-Salha, in her own words

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 10:07
There’s already been much said about the lives that the student victims of Wednesday’s triple-shooting death in Chapel Hill led. Here, you can hear directly from one of the victims, and some of her thoughts about growing up Muslim in North Carolina, and her larger worldview about peace and tolerance. Yusor Abu-Salha, a 21-year-old newlywed ...

Building a solvent unemployment insurance system

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 08:36
The lessons of the past should help us make better choices in the future. North Carolina’s history of unemployment insurance changes provide one clear lesson:  cutting taxes for employers in good times can lead to serious harm in the long-term. A bill moving to the floor tomorrow that makes changes to the unemployment insurance system ...

Troubled souls with guns

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 07:24
The unspeakable tragedy in Chapel Hill this week appears to be causing some important community soul searching about hate crimes and whether the victims were targeted because of their faith. Let’s hope and pray that, in the end, this leads to productive dialogue that further breaks down the walls between people of different religions, races ...

Solution to looming teacher shortage: Higher pay

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 15:58
A post today at the website Higher Education Works neatly cuts through the b.s. today on the issue of what North Carolina must do to address the shortage of quality schoolteachers – now and in the future: Commentary: Teacher shortage? Pay them. North Carolina faces a looming crisis – a shortage of teachers. But putting ...

Vigil for slain Muslim American students in Chapel Hill, Charlotte

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 12:25
By now, you’ve probably heard about the murders of three Muslim American students from UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State. If not, here is the background story from WNCN: There are calls over social media for donations to charities for which these students volunteered. A vigil will be held 7 p.m. tonight at the ...

A whole lot of numbers converging on one truth

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 12:22
The flood of numbers associated with the state’s tax collections has created growing confusion.  However, what should not get lost in this confusion is that those numbers all converge on one truth: the tax plan passed in 2013 costs more than was originally projected and is likely to hamper our state’s ability to reinvest as ...

Gas tax plan to provide much needed resources for infrastructure, yet changes are needed to current proposal

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:42
North Carolina must reform the way it raises revenue for transportation. The existing funding structures are inadequate for addressing current and future transportation needs across the state. The Governor proposed bonding against future tax revenue to meet these needs while the Senate appears poised to push through changes to the gas tax. The bottom line ...