Carolina Journal Weekly Report

February 06, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of February 06, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — Years of robust growth in education spending will come to an end this spring as the General Assembly grapples with a projected $2 billion revenue shortfall writes Jim Stegall for Carolina Journal.

With little or no new money to spend, teachers, administrators, and special-interest groups are being forced to rethink their priorities. There will be hard fighting over scarce resources, and by the time it’s over, some sacred cows might find themselves in the slaughterhouse.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has already ordered education agencies to trim expenditures in the current fiscal year by 2 percent, a smaller hit than that ordered for other agencies. As of late January, her budget proposal for the coming fiscal year was still being drafted, and House and Senate legislative leaders would not speculate on whether total spending on education would hold steady in 2009-10, go up slightly, or actually decline.

That hasn’t stopped lawmakers and lobbyists from crafting their own spending proposals. The State Board of Education submitted its wish list for new spending in December, but State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson acknowledges there’s little hope the board will get much of what it wants.

Her top priority for the upcoming session is a modest $4.7 million proposal for overhauling the state’s accountability program. In an interview in January she called the current program “confusing to parents and teachers” and outlined a more user-friendly system that would give parents feedback on their children’s progress based on grade levels, rather than the four achievement levels currently in use.

News Features

CJ: Annexation rules could generate major debates
GREENSBORO — Municipal annexation will take center stage during the General Assembly’s new session as the N.C. League of Municipalities deals with efforts to reform the state’s annexation laws put forth by property owners upset over paying city taxes for services they don’t need or want.

CJ: Perdue tagged with public records lawsuit
RALEIGH — A gaping budget shortfall isn’t the only hurdle Gov. Bev Perdue will face in the first months of her administration. She also must decide how to respond to a lawsuit accusing former Gov. Mike Easley of permitting his staff to unlawfully erase e-mail correspondence between state employees.

More somber news on state health plan
RALEIGH — Lawmakers might have to find $1 billion over the next two years to cover claims with the state employee health insurance plan, a General Assembly staff member said Wednesday in another mark on the state’s fiscal challenges. The price tag doesn’t include an estimated $228 million that would have to be paid by employees whose spouses or dependents receive coverage.

Ethics rules sought for health council
RALEIGH — A group of doctors has sued the state of North Carolina in an effort to apply ethics rules on a council that recommends where and when hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and others can expand. The lawsuit, filed last year in Wake Superior Court and scheduled for arguments soon, is the latest attack against the state’s Certificate of Need law, which establishes a process for regulating growth in health services.

Tobacco gradually losing its political sway
RALEIGH — In downtown Raleigh, just a few blocks from the state legislative building, a trendy new bar opened last month. It’s called Tobacco Road. But the entire bar is smoke-free. These days, that bit of irony isn’t an isolated case. For smokers, and for the tobacco industry that has been critical to the state’s economy for centuries, the landscape is rapidly changing.

Upcoming Events

Monday, February 09, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Rajesh Rao
Healthcare Globalization: Necessity is the Mother of Innovation

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
A Headliner Event in Hickory
with our special guests Dr. John R. Christy and Dr. William H. Schlesinger
A Forum on Climate Change: Opposing Views

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. General Reception-Cash Bar
7:15 p.m. Dinner

19th Anniversary Celebration in the Charlotte Area
with our special guest Winston Churchill III
Winston Churchill: Leadership in Times of Crisis

C-SPAN To Cover The Event

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

As far as she’s concerned, the buck stops with her.
Chrissy Pearson, spokeswoman for Gov. Bev Perdue, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, explaining that the governor thought she, and not June Atkinson, the elected state superintendent, was in charge of public education in the state.

We need to do more with less.
— House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, as quoted by the Associated Press, noting that raising the cap on charter schools is one way to make scarce state dollars go further.

The fiscal realities are what they are.
— Charlotte Area Transit System chief executive Keith Parker, while describing to the Charlotte Observer that revenues from Mecklenburg County’s 1/2 cent sales transit will be $252 million lower than anticipated over the next decade.

We’re all city of Durham taxpayers.
Durham elections director Mike Ashe, describing to the Durham Herald-Sun the rational for the Durham County Board of Elections to recommend eliminating primary elections for city offices. The move would save the city $170,000 to $185,000.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
Becki Gray discusses JLF’s new Carolina Freedom Clubs; Rep. Jennifer Weiss and JLF’s Joe Coletti respond to legislative staffer Trina Griffin's report on taxing digital downloads; Gov. Beverly Perdue explains changes to the education bureaucracy, while new education CEO Bill Harrison, Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, and JLF’s Terry Stoops react to the governor’s actions. 

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: the new structure for public education; and how our universities and community colleges can respond to budget cuts. This week’s panelists: Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; political consultant Brad Crone; Laura Leslie, political reporter from WUNC radio; and John Dornan, Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


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