NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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Short-Changing the Recovery

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 15:09
The ballooning cost of recent state tax cuts is one of the key stories of 2014. While state leaders argued over how to pay for increasing teacher salaries, it was easy to forget that the 2013 tax cut package was a huge part of the reason that funds were so hard to come by. The ...

Lies, lies everywhere; Politifact offers its list of 2014’s top Internet-based falsehoods

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 11:08
The Tampa Bay Times’ Politifact rounded up a list of the worst lies flying around the Internet last year, a task that no doubt must have seemed endless. The list (click here) debunked a fair amount of claims from posts that went viral in right-wing chain emails and Facebook posts, including a (false) claim that ...

Four must-read stories you likely missed over the holiday weekend

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 07:58
Hopefully you spent the long holiday weekend with family and friends, but as the year winds down here are four stories that caught our attention to help you get caught up on the news: 1. The Triangle may be in running for Mercedes-Benz’s new HQ, but state legislators may need a special session to make ...

When a Job is not a Recovery

Wed, 12/24/2014 - 15:09
Economists and politicians both talk about job numbers a lot. Of course the number of jobs is a vital indicator of how well the economy is working, but simply knowing how many jobs there are does not tell the whole story. Understanding the health of the labor market also requires knowing how many of the ...

Imagine if Romney had been elected

Wed, 12/24/2014 - 08:09
The lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer hits the nail on the head this morning when it says the following about the state of the U.S. economy: “The recovery from the Great Recession appears to be getting stronger on the eve of Christmas. Alas, politics has dampened the enthusiasm of some Scrooges, President Obama’s ...

Economic potential of executive action on immigration

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 16:33
The American Immigration Council released last week a summary of the emerging research on the positive economic potential of the Executive Action on Immigration. These national findings for stronger economic growth, increased tax revenue and higher average wages for all workers suggest state-level benefits, particularly in North Carolina, will be positive– albeit modest– as well. ...

A Not So Carolina Comeback

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 14:34
When the Wall Street house of risk came crashing down in 2007, it wrecked local economies across North Carolina. Business finance dried up, people and businesses bought less, home values took a hit, and so employment dropped, sharply. Along with the rest of the U.S., we have seen the worst days of the recession pass ...

McCrory taps new DENR Secretary

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 12:38
Governor Pat McCrory announced Tuesday that Donald van der Vaart would serve as the next secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, replacing John Skvarla. Van der Vaart currently serves as deputy secretary and energy policy advisor for the department. According to a press advisory from the Governor’s office, before serving as ...

Data Tools for Policymaking: Poverty Simulations

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 11:58
Every holiday season there is renewed attention to the hardship that many of our neighbors face. While this focus is often temporary and disconnected from an examination of the causes and consequences, it is always an opportunity to make more concrete the data on poverty that too often falls flat in policy debates. It is ...

One dumfoundingly simple solution to what ails our schools

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 08:05
There are a lots of ways that we over-think things in the world of education policy and ignore obvious, common sense solutions. As this article by an NYU doctoral student from the website OZY.com reminds us today, many such solutions are as simple, practical and cheap as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: “Many big ...

We’re Not There Yet

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 17:02
This is the season of absolutes, a time for reflecting and rendering judgment. Has it been a year to remember or a year to forget? Are we on the right path, or hopelessly lost? The truth is usually somewhere in the middle, but that doesn’t make provocative copy, and so it is often ignored. While ...

Update on missing workers

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 12:35
The latest report on labor market conditions was released on Friday showing that despite improvements in North Carolina, there remains a long way to go to proclaim a fully recovered economy. One measure of just what remains unaddressed is the number of missing workers in the state, those workers who if job opportunities were stronger ...

Breaking: Fourth Circuit rejects state abortion ultrasound law

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 11:48
In a unanimous decision released today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked enforcement of the state’s pre-abortion ultrasound law, finding that it violates the First Amendment rights of physicians who provide abortions. Here’s how U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles described the law in her lower court decision overturning it: The patient must lie ...

New study shows that state lost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs by refusing Medicaid expansion; Legislators can still change course.

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 13:25
A new report from Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust finds that North Carolina lost out on billions of dollars and thousands of jobs by refusing to close the Medicaid coverage gap in 2014 and 2015. If the state acts in 2016, however, we can recoup some lost ground by covering 500,000 ...

Breaking: Supreme Court upholds state redistricting plan

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:52
It took close to a year from the date of argument,  but as expected by many the state Supreme Court today handed down its decision, upholding the 2011 redistricting plan. The justices voted along party lines in the 4-2 opinion in Dickson v. Rucho, with Justice Robert Edmunds writing the opinion for the majority. Justices Cheri Beasley and ...

New report: Tillis, McHenry among top recipients of payday lending industry campaign cash

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:30
Payday lenders (and other short-term lenders) along with their trade associations have spent more than $13 million on lobbying and campaign donations since 2013, according to a new report put out by the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR). The report is particularly troubling because it comes at a time when the government is finally beginning ...

Five education stories that you don’t want to miss this week

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:04
Virtual charter schools advance in North Carolina – One of the first decisions the State Board of Education may make in 2015 is whether to allow two virtual charter schools to operate in North Carolina. Sarah Ovaska has a great run down of the players in her story this week: Virtual charter schools on path ...

McCrory’s brewing ethics problem

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 08:14
The controversy surrounding Governor Pat McCrory’s acceptance of more than $170,000 from a mortgage company with a checkered past after he took office last year may or may not turn into a legal/ethics problem for the Governor. Regardless of where this whole thing leads, however, there are at least two preliminary takeaways from the affair ...

‘Tis the season for judicial introspection?

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 15:31
Maybe it’s the time of year, but it seems that there’s been more than a handful of reports these past few weeks about judges who are taking critical look at how court decisions are impacting their communities. There’s this story out of South Carolina, where yesterday Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen vacated the 1944 conviction of a black 14-year-old boy charged ...

Death sentences at 40-year low; death penalty remains threat to innocents, justice

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 15:30
The NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty reports that the number of exonerations have reached a record pace, with North Carolina in its eighth year without executions. However, the death penalty remains a threat to innocent people “sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence,” many of whom have been incarcerated for more ...

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