Carolina Journal Weekly Report

August 17, 2012

Carolina Journal Weekly Report
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For the week of August 17, 2012 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — The wild swings in North Carolina’s higher education budget may have come to a halt. Last year, the University of North Carolina system absorbed roughly $400 million in cuts — a few years before that, higher ed was getting annual increases of 5 percent and more.

This year’s higher education budget essentially is unchanged from last year, reports Carolina Journal, with the UNC system receiving a slight 0.9 percent increase and the community college system getting an additional 0.5 percent.

The main reason there was so little change in the higher education budget was because the legislature rejected its longstanding policy of raising taxes in order to increase spending. In the final tally, the total General Fund budget was $20.2 billion, 1.2 percent higher than the $19.94 billion that had been anticipated for 2012-13.

Additionally, when higher tax revenues than expected came in, whatever additional money could be found was used both to fill a huge hole in the K-12 budget due to a loss of temporary federal funding and to patch a shortfall in Medicaid.

Both higher education systems expressed little disappointment or surprise; all parties involved in the process knew these facts coming in. There was some jockeying before the legislative session opened: The UNC system requested $216 million raise in its state appropriations — a healthy 8.5 percent. Instead, it only got $24.6 million more than last year’s $2.54 billion, but UNC system president Thomas Ross issued a statement suggesting that largely he was satisfied.

The community college system got an additional $5 million. “We appreciate the General Assembly’s leadership in working closely with us to support our System’s priorities,” read a statement by the community college system. “They continue to recognize the value of North Carolina’s Community Colleges.”

News Features

CJ: Three gubernatorial debates set for October
RALEIGH — The campaign debate season soon will be upon us, with three scheduled meetings between the two major party candidates for governor already lined up. Two of the debates will be held at the UNC Center for Public Television in Research Triangle Park. The other will be held at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.

CJ: Judges must justify closing trials to public
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently confronted an issue pitting the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a right to a public trial with the public interest in maintaining the anonymity of some witnesses whose privacy would be violated if forced to testify in open court, as in cases of rape or other alleged sexual assaults.

CJ: Chatham Commission gets back to basics
PITTSBORO — The 2010 election saw a major turnaround in the makeup of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners. In a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, Republicans ousted three Democratic incumbents on the five-member board with promises to save taxpayers $2 million over four years.

Duke documents reveal more CEO machinations
RALEIGH — The N.C. Attorney General’s office on Wednesday released documents from Duke Energy that suggest that just months after the Progress-Duke merger was announced, Duke CEO Jim Rogers and Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson were in tense discussions about Johnson’s future role with the utility. Johnson was slated to become CEO of the combined company. Instead, he was fired the day the merger was completed.

Thorp asks Martin to look into academic fraud
RALEIGH — UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp, under increasing pressure to dig deeper into an academic fraud scandal that has now drawn national attention, said Thursday he is bringing in a former governor and a national management consulting firm to look for “any additional academic irregularities that may have occurred.”

Upcoming Events

Monday, August 27, 2012 at 12:00pm Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Ray Nothstine
"Is Civil Religion Enough? Religion & Presidential Campaigns."

Monday, September 17, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
A Living History Event
with our special guests Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
Jefferson and Adams: A Debate on the Future of the United States of America

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.
Election Preview 2012
with our special guests Byron York, Brad Crone, Marc Rotterman, and John Hood
What to Expect in the 2012 Election

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

Capital Quotes

What I have always said is (that) I don’t like the cuts to education; it wasn’t about embracing the tax, But it was a way to resolve it, and I supported the extension of three-quarters-of-a-penny sales tax to get us through the tough times.
— Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, explaining to the Raleigh News & Observer his position on tax increases to fund education.

I think it’s going to pay off.
Mike Watson, director of the Division of Medical Assistance, as quoted by the Associated Press, assuring a legislative committee that investing in improved technology to catch Medicaid fraud and abuse will provide a positive return. Watson’s comments came in response to a report from State Auditor Beth Wood finding that the programs haven’t saved much money yet.

Maybe the people who smoke could go to Myrtle Beach.
— Carolina Beach visitor Iris Senzig, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer on a new Carolina Beach ordinance that seeks to ban smoking on the town’s beach.

Once in a while we get a blue moon.
Ron Heiniger, a corn specialist for N.C. State University based at a research station in Plymouth in Washington County, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer on the rare combination North Carolina corn farmers are facing this year of having a large crop and getting high prices for it.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Terry Stoops analyzes the mixed bag of results in new ABC school test scores; Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig discusses reforming the way members of Congress are elected; Christopher Wolfe of the Thomas International Center discusses federalism; former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty rally conservatives; and JLF’s Becki Gray analyzes legislative overrides of Gov. Perdue’s vetoes. 

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: Election update; North Carolina test results; city-county consolidation; and tax reform. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; former House Speaker Joe Mavretic; and political consultant Jeanne Bonds.


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