Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Don't linger, pundits tell N.C. lawmakers

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."

Pundits from conservative-leaning groups such as Barry Smith of the Carolina Journal and liberal leaning groups such as Alexandra Sirota of the N.C. Justice Center weighed in with their thoughts.

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.


Garth Vader said...

Why weren't coal ash ponds a concern between 1950 (when the first pond at Riverbend was installed) and 2013? Could it be that for 99% of those 63 years the state was in Democrat hands?

EuroCat said...

How is political party relevant to coal ash policy?

Anyway, if it's so important to you, many current North Carolina Republicans were Democrats in 1950; it's not the letter after the name, it's the attitude. Even today, most Democrats in the General Assembly are far from "liberal" on a national scale, and I know from your past comments that you routinely confuse the words "Democrat" and "liberal".

Finally, corporations - like Duke, and politicians - like those 1950s-ers Democrats, tend to "look the other way" as much as possible when it comes to analyzing the consequences of adopting new environmental standards. In 1950, it was coal ash ponds: "they're SAFE!!!" "This is a well-regulated process!!!" "Nothing can go wrong!!!"

And now, the same corporations and the same politicians - only this time they're Republicans, FWIW - are saying the EXACT SAME THINGS about fracking, offshore drilling, and sea-level rise. Come back in 75 years and those future generations - if they even EXIST - will be saying "Why weren't deep-well fracking disasters a concern between 2010 and 2060? Could it be that for 99% of those 50 years the state was in Republic hands?"