The N.C. Legislature's short session gets under way today and here's what some pundits and others are saying:
From the Raleigh News & Observer:"The session is going to be short, but not sweet," says the newspaper's editorial board. Expect lawmakers to fix a $445 million shortfall that unwise tax cuts they made last year contributed to by "cash in the state’s rainy day fund and rifling through the budget for any surplus dollars like a man searching his couch for loose change. But of course that’s not recurring money, so it will be a one-time solution. And the tax cuts will likely create more problems by forcing another round of cuts in state programs and departments that have been starved for funds since the start of the Great Recession," the board wrote.
From the Greensboro News & Record:
Greensboro's editorial board had a list of what lawmakers should do - give teachers pay raises, enact stricter coal ash rules, etc. But they also had a list of what lawmakers should NOT do. Among them: Don't continue the legislature's "assault on local governments:Proposals have been floated to override local tree ordinances and cap business privilege license fees as well as property tax hikes. A provision in a fracking bill would bar local governments from taking any regulatory actions in regard to natural-gas extraction operations. In most local matters, the state does not know best — but this legislature too often overrules local decision-making. It should stop." Also, don't "linger: The less time in session, the better."
From the Daily Reflector of Greenville:
The editorial board said "one of the most important budget adjustments (lawmakers) will consider is for improving teacher salaries." The writers noted the myriad of other items legislators must consider and said: "Some political pundits doubt lawmakers will work through all of those and other issues before Independence Day. Some believe a projected budget shortfall of $445 million this year, combined with shortfalls expected for next year, will make tax cuts implemented last year unsustainable in light of the governor’s recommended education spending. Republican lawmakers must fully realize that how they respond to... raising teacher salaries, and for reversing some unpopular legislative changes affecting teachers and schools, will go far in setting the tone for the November midterm elections.
Approving the measures will be expensive, both in terms of revenue and the GOP-led General Assembly’s conservative political agenda. Anything less, however, will be more costly for the future of North Carolina."
Our editorial board outlined our own list for lawmakers in "Session Blueprint" as well as providing space for four groups to offer their perspectives. We hope policymakers don't get sidetracked and focus their limited time and needed energies on ideological non-essentials.