Carolina Journal Weekly Report

June 19, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of June 19, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — State budget negotiators can scrap proposed tax and fee increases while still avoiding the most drastic budget cuts they’ve threatened to make during the past few weeks. The John Locke Foundation’s chief budget analyst explains how in his new “Can-Do Budget.”

“State House budget writers offered their colleagues a false choice,” said the budget’s author, Joseph Coletti, JLF Fiscal and Health Care Policy Analyst. “To sell a budget plan with $870 million in tax and fee increases next year, those budget writers scared colleagues by implying that the only alternative was a budget with drastic, debilitating cuts to essential services. In a little more than 25 pages, the Can-Do Budget offers a third alternative.”

“This budget would redirect revenues from the Tobacco Master Settlement to state government’s General Fund and eliminate $125 million in nonteaching centers in the University of North Carolina system,” Coletti added. “It also would remove corporate welfare programs such as the N.C. Biotechnology Center, Job Development Investment Grants, and tax carve-outs like the recently approved tax break for Apple Computer.”

Coletti’s alternatives could come in handy for the negotiators who craft the final state budget plan. A 64-53 vote shortly after midnight Saturday morning secured approval of the House plan. If the Senate rejects the House budget as expected, a conference committee of House and Senate leaders will try to draft a final compromise before the new budget year starts July 1.

“There is still time for the conference committee to bring openness, responsibility, accountability, and fairness to the state budget,” Coletti said. “Committee members can start by looking at the recommendations in the Can-Do Budget.”

News Features

CJ: Jim Black’s property settlement may tot add up
CHARLOTTE — Imprisoned former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black used undeveloped land with a tax value of less than $150,000 to pay off an outstanding $500,000 state fine linked to his conviction on corruption charges, according to Mecklenburg County property records.

CJ: N.C. Supreme Court sets limits on marital communications
RALEIGH — State law prohibits private conversations between husband and wife from being introduced at trial. But what exactly qualifies as a “confidential conversation” between a husband and wife? In a recent ruling, a closely divided N.C. Supreme Court held that a conversation at a public visiting area at a jail, even if overheard by no one else, was not a confidential communication because no expectation of privacy could exist.

Feds want documents from NC ports on marina deal
RALEIGH — Federal prosecutors investigating former Gov. Mike Easley and his wife took a new tack Wednesday with grand jury subpoenas looking for information about a marina lease that once drew an ethics complaint about him. The North Carolina State Ports Authority has collected documents sought in a subpoena it received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office related to the marina in the Easleys’ hometown of Southport, authority spokeswoman Karen Fox said.

Pet projects quietly persist
RALEIGH — Four years ago, state legislators gave $2 million to Greensboro to launch a “Hall of Champions” for the Atlantic Coast Conference. It was to showcase the ACC’s athletic heroes, an idea pushed by Kay Hagan, then a state senator, and other legislators. The project would cost $23 million, and the legislators initially asked the state for all but $3 million, which represented what the city would pay to buy an existing building that would become the hall’s home.

Piled-up perks carry hidden costs
RALEIGH — Two years ago, State Highway Patrol Capt. Marc Nichols was on leave for nearly three months to deal with an extended illness that required two surgeries. For many workers in the public and private sectors, that much time off the job would have exhausted their sick leave and vacation time and perhaps pushed them into reduced disability pay. But Nichols continued to get his $82,424 yearly salary without taking a single sick or vacation day.

Upcoming Events

Monday, June 22, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Mark McNeilly
Sun Tzu and the Art of Business

Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Western N.C. Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest Becki Gray
Legislative Update: A Look Behind the Scenes at What Your Lawmakers Are Doing

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

Capital Quotes

I guess she wants to be a one-term governor. Somebody needs to explain to her that she’s in a recession.
— Rep. Johnathan Rhyne, R-Lincoln, commenting to the Associated Press on Gov. Bev Perdue’s request that lawmakers increase state taxes by up to $1.5 billion.

Without this option, we are creating a second-class citizenry…
— Dr. Stuart Fountain, head of the Board of Community Colleges’ policy committee, arguing to the Raleigh News & Observer that illegal aliens should be allowed to attend the state’s community colleges.

This bill is a monster, and it’s terrible.
— Biltmore Lake neighborhood resident Jerry Jensen, commenting to the Asheville Citizen-Times on an annexation reform bill being debate in the N.C. House. Biltmore Lake is fighting to keep from being annexed by Asheville.

I felt like I was being targeted.
Eugene Allison, a Charlotte lawyer and father of seven, describing his reaction to being asked by the N.C. Department of Revenue to provide documentation, such as birth certificates and social security cards, to show that he really has seven kids. The department has sent similar requests to all families with five or more children.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s John Hood explains the impact of the death tax on job creation; Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Americans for Prosperity State Director Dallas Woodhouse, and representatives of JLF and the Civitas Institute argue against higher taxes and bigger government; Reps. Thom Tillis and John Blust react to the House plan to raise taxes; Jonathan Krohn explains why conservatism can attract young people; and Carolina Journal’s Rick Henderson discusses the future of newspapers and CJ’s focus on investigative journalism.

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:T he House budget going to conference; education reform; and a proposed national testing program. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; political consultant Brad Crone; and columnist Cash Michaels.

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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