Mark Binker has all the gory details about the latest step toward a budget deal. Check his post for the skinny on what's happening after you look at the highlights below with some perspective from Becki Gray. If you're on Twitter, follow Mark @binker. According to Mark, the proposal includes
A two percent (2%) surtax on personal and corporate income taxes, meaning an additional $20 for every $1,000 in taxes paid. Individuals earning $100,000 and married folks earning $200,000 get hit.
A 3/4-cent increase in the sales tax, taking the rate to 7.5 percent in most of the state. Becki has it at 1/2-cent
$100 million in new sin taxes, including a 15-cent per pack increase in tobacco taxes. Becki adds that the beer tax will be two cents per can/bottle
The affiliate tax remains
Binker says there are no other new taxes, but Becki has seen mention of a three percent (3%) surtax on energy plus higher taxes on all forms of entertainment except rounds of golf
There is no need to raise taxes. It just takes some can-do spirit from our state legislators.
UPDATE: Includes new information from Scott Mooneyham (who is not on Twitter).
At a school board meeting this afternoon, several members floated the idea of writing a letter to the judge that would distance themselves from Margiotta, state the opinion of the board, and thank Stephens for his decision to accept two parcels of real estate in lieu of cash to settle Black’s fine.
At the same time, some board members expressed concern to school board attorney Ann Majestic that they were never informed of the impending deal until reading about it in the news media.
Margiotta raised some concerns about the validity of the appraisal that Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby and school board attorneys used to gauge the value of the properties.
The appraisal is a “restricted use and appraisal,” and is intended for the use only of the individual who commissioned it (in this case, Black’s son).
But the school board did not discuss the issue for very long, as Majestic said that they had no authority to influence the decision reached by the DA and Black’s attorneys.
Judge Stephens caught some attention last week when he blessed out Margiotta – by implication and not by name – for criticizing his decision to allow Black to use property rather than cash to settle the fine.
If you weren't spending enough for your energy needs, a proposed bill (HB 1050) would add another new energy tax. The purpose of the tax would be to create energy efficiency programs.
This new duplicative tax would be added despite SB 3, which already has mandated that utilities develop new energy efficiency programs. An example of one of these programs is Duke's Save-a-Watt program, which hasn't even been approved yet.
HB 1050 would have an independent administrator run energy efficiency programs, as opposed to the utilities.
Instead of replacing the utilities with an independent administrator, the bill would have both an independent administrator and the utilities run energy efficiency programs. These programs, in simple terms, charge customers extra for electricity and then provide these same customers incentives for doing the "right" thing when it comes to energy use.
I don't support any of these energy efficiency programs or any energy taxes. However, I do understand the motivation for having an independent administrator in lieu of utilities running these energy efficiency programs--an independent administrator would cost customers far less than what Duke is proposing with its Save-A-Watt program.
Many organizations pushing this independent administrator idea wanted the Utilities Commission to allow an independent administrator to run the energy efficiency programs instead of the utilities under SB 3. However, the statutory language doesn't allow this, as I argued (along with others), and the Commission agreed.
Instead of making a change to SB 3 to have an independent administrator, not utilities, run these programs, there is this push for both to run these programs. This makes no sense.
One of the fundamental problems in all the debate over health care reform is that health care is not, nor should it be, a system. Health care is a massively government-distorted market, or bunch of markets (insurance, primary care, surgery, hospitalization, maternity care, alternative medicine, pharmaceuticals, etc).
We don't look to reform the pencil system, the clothes system, the publishing system, the car system, the food system, or even the housing system. While the government offers assistance toward the purchase of some goods, government owns a car company, and government regulators set rules on what you can purchase, there is a general recognition that these are private decisions made in competitive markets.
I vow to stop complaining about the problems with our health care system and instead focus on the distortions in the health care market that make it difficult to act on price and quality information. As I've noted before, North Carolina's attempt to reform the state mental health care system crashed against the rocks in part because it separated payment and care decisions.
Sen Don Davis (D-Greene) amends the bill with a technical correction of statute references. And is running the bill in the Senate. He explains it consolidates the Energy Department and "Reshapes" the energy council. Will coordinate business, economic development and energy policy. He knows of no opposition and the governor likes it.
Sen Eddie Goodall (R-Union) points out it gives the governor much more control over energy policy. Doesn't look out for the consumer or taxpayer. Are they protected?
Davis says key stakeholders came to the table and this appears to be the solution the stakeholders wanted. This is the direction to go.
Sen Charlie Albertson (D-Duplin) asks why the governor gets so many appointees when it used to be evenly divided. He'll object to third reading, putting the final vote off till tomorrow to look into this.
Sen Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) asks about exploring for energy off the coast. Why is no one with knowledge of off shore exploration included on the council? Davis says key stakeholders have put together a team with energy background.
Vote on bill is 36-9. The nine senators voting no are Republicans.
David Bass' Carolina Journal Exclusive unearths an important study done by NC's Division of Air Quality arguing that ozone is not a precursor to the formation of particulate matter. As David points out, this conclusion undermined the AG's lawsuit against the TVA and after a meeting with the AG's office DAQ killed the study. What is interesting is DAQ's response to David's inquiries regarding the suppression of the study. Laura Booth, DAQ official, told Bass that they didn't drop the study because of pressure from the AG's office but because of "pushback from the U.S. EPA." Booth told David that the EPA "did not feel comfortable with what we had done there." In other words, what DAQ is saying is that they didn't drop it because of pressure from the AG but instead they dropped it because of pressure from the EPA.
It should be noted that DAQ did not say they dropped it because of any problem with the study itself or because of any flaws in its conclusions. From Bass’ story we can't say for sure where the outside pressure came from but what is quite clear is that the study was dropped because either the AG's office or the EPA wanted DAQ to drop it.
What this means is that DAQ is unwilling to stand behind analysis, performed by its own analysts, that is technically and scientifically sound because the conclusions of the study have proven to be unacceptable or inconvenient to people in other agencies. The question that needs to be raised is what other studies are being suppressed by DAQ because of pressures from other government agencies. And, given DAQ’s well known sympathies and connections to environmental advocacy groups, could these groups be having a similar influence?
With so many openings on the board of ed, the field of candidates has become crowded. Opponents of the current system of diversity busing hope the openings will present an opportunity to change the school system's direction.
According to data released today, 85 out of 97 charter schools (88 percent) made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) under the federal No Child Left Behind law. To make AYP, all student subgroups in a school must score at or above the "proficient" level on state tests.
The results must be approved at the August State Board of Education meeting. Changes to AYP status are possible.
Alpha Academy – Y
American Renaissance School – Y
Arapahoe Charter School – Y
Arts Based Elementary – Y
ArtSpace Charter School – Y
Bethany Community Middle School – Y
Bethel Hill Charter School – Y
Brevard Academy – Y
Bridges – Y
Cape Fear Center for Inquiry – Y
Cape Lookout Marine Science High School – Y
Carolina International School – Y
Carter Community School – Y
Casa Esperanza Montessori – Y
Charlotte Secondary School – N
Charter Day School – Y
Chatham Charter School – Y
CIS Academy – Y
Clover Garden – Y
Columbus Charter School – Y
Community School of Davidson – Y
Crosscreek Charter – Y
Crossnore Academy – Y
Crossroads Charter High – N
Dillard Academy – Y
East Wake Academy – Y
Endeavor Charter School – Y
Evergreen Community Charter School – Y
Exploris Middle School – Y
Forsyth Academies – Y
Francine Delany New School for Children – Y
Gaston College Preparatory – Y
Grandfather Academy – Y
Gray Stone Day School – Y
Greensboro Academy – Y
Guilford Prep Academy – Y
Haliwa-Saponi Tribal – Y
Healthy Start Academy Charter Elementary School – Y
Highland Charter Public School – Y
Hope Elementary School – Y
Kennedy School – N
Kestrel Heights School – N
Kinston Charter Academy – N
KIPP: Charlotte – Y
Lake Norman Charter School – Y
Learning Center – Y
Lincoln Charter School – Y
Magellan Charter School – Y
Maureen Joy Charter School – Y
Metrolina Regional Scholars' Academy – Y
Millennium Charter Academy – Y
Mountain Discovery Charter – Y
Neuse Charter School – Y
Orange Charter School – Y
PACE Academy – Y
Phoenix Academy – Y
Piedmont Community School – Y
Pine Lake Preparatory – N
PreEminent Charter School – Y
Provisions Academy – Y
Quality Education Academy – Y
Queen's Grant Community Schools – Y
Quest Academy – Y
Raleigh Charter High School – Y
Research Triangle Charter Academy – Y
River Mill Academy – Y
Rocky Mount Preparatory School – N
Roxboro Community School – N
Sallie B. Howard School – Y
Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance School (STARS) – Y
Socrates Academy – Y
Southern Wake Academy – N
Sterling Montessori Academy – Y
Success Institute – Y
Sugar Creek Charter School – Y
Summit Charter School – Y
The Academy of Moore County – Y
The Carter G. Woodson School of Challenge – N
The Central Park School for Children – N
The Children's Village Academy – Y
The Community Charter School – Y
The Downtown Middle School – Y
The Franklin Academy – Y
The Hawbridge School – Y
The Mountain Community School – Y
The New Dimensions School – Y
The Woods Charter School – Y
Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy – Y
Tiller School – Y
Torchlight Academy – Y
TRIAD Math & Science – Y
Two Rivers Community School – Y
Union Academy – Y
Vance Charter School – Y
Voyager Academy – Y
Washington Montessori – Y
Wilmington Preparatory Academy – N
Note from DPI: "Beginning with the 2008-09 accountability cycle, results of students' 1st retest will be used in the calculation of AYP results for grades 3-8. The higher of the two scores, (i.e., the original score or retest 1) will be used to calculate AYP. As a result, 2008-09 AYP results for elementary and middle schools will not be comparable with previous years results."
No meaningful amendments were introduced today in the House Appropriations meeting.
There were no amendments introduced to:
Provide county oversight
Require meaningful services so that a municipality has to provide just one service that is necessary or gives annexation victims a significant benefit (i.e. codifying the Nolan v. Village of Marvin case)
Change the title of the bill so it could be amended on the House floor
Strengthen the LGC's "oversight" in the bill so that it could at least have some teeth.
Require municipalities to pay for the costs of water and sewer infrastructure
There were no amendments to even fix the bill so that it would at least not hurt property owners, including:
1) Taking out the existing language that would define meaningful services as something other than what is meaningful. The language also would allow duplication of existing services such as expressly allowing cities to provide one extra cop to an area with excellent police service.
2) Taking out the language that will force individuals to pay for water and sewer infrastructure because municipalities (which provide water and sewer to their residents) would be required to provide water and sewer within three years.
Last Friday I posted about Representative Russ Carnahan of Missouri, who couldn't be bothered with questions from a constituent who feared that his business would be badly harmed by the "cap and trade" bill.
Well, the cretin (it's not hate speech to call a politician a cretin yet, is it?) is at it again as you can see here. This time it's the Obamacare bill and he's telling lies about it. The Democrats are so desperate to pass this authoritarian monstrosity that they can't even admit that the Congressional Budget Office has said it will greatly increase spending, not decrease it.
Now that the details of the health care "reform" bill are out in public, shouldn't the president go before the American people and honestly say that his earlier speech with the reassuring words that if you're content with your present health care arrangements, nothing will change are, well, no longer operational?
As this Wall Street Journal editorial makes clear, those words do not accurately describe the bill before Congress.
Support for the Obamacare plan seems to be sliding. It would slide faster, along with the widespread support our Beloved Leader still enjoys, if more people realized that he has been trying to deceive them into a horrendous mistake.
I love it when this happens. The Wall Street Journal frequently runs pieces by proponents of big government (unlike leftist papers such as the New York Times, which features pieces not by libertarians but centrists like David Brooks for "balance") but then publishes rebuttal letters that smash the writer. If you enjoy that as much as I do, take a look at this:
If James Stewart is puzzled why anyone in the U.S. needs a Swiss bank account (“Offshore Tax Evaders Deserve No Sympathy,” Common Sense, July 15), we must be living in different worlds. Banks in the U.S. are required to spy on their customers and report certain transactions to the government without informing their clients. That’s confidentiality? Presumably his contention that ours is a strong banking system is a joke.
Underlying Mr. Stewart’s column is the assertion that rich people “owe their prosperity to this country,” with the assumption that, therefore, their money actually belongs to the government. On the contrary, people become rich by hard work, intelligence and some good fortune. The fruits of their labor belong to them, not to Mr. Stewart, nor to me, or anyone else.
When the state contrives to steal more than 50% of one’s income (including state income, Social Security and other taxes) and threatens to take more (5.4% surcharge to pay for a new government medical system), giving hardly anything in return, then, yes, I can sympathize with those who say “enough.”
It is a herring of the deepest red to mention Bernard Madoff; to equate people who try to protect their own money with one who stole money from others is a false analogy.
Mr. Stewart indicates that the rich avoid their civic duties by hiding wealth in offshore jurisdictions and that the U.S. should take the moral high ground. He is wrong.
If consumers choose to pay 50 cents for a carton of milk instead of spending $5 for an identical carton, they are considered smart. Yet when the same logic is applied to taxes, smart consumers become criminals.
The U.S. should stop pointing fingers at nations with more efficient tax regimes. Increasing tax compliance shouldn’t be accomplished through eliminating financial privacy laws of sovereign nations, but rather through creating more attractive tax policies.
Republican legislative leaders used their weekly news conference to raise questions about the ongoing closed-door negotiations their Democratic counterparts are using in trying to finish a final state budget deal.
Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, also raised concerns about legislation related to easing the state's prison space crunch, while House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, discussed his opposition to the so-called Racial Justice Act.
House Appropriations Committee discussion on House Bill 524 continue.
Rep Lucy Allen (D-Franklin) amends the bill to bind utility services which easily passes by a voice vote.
Rep Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) proposes an amendment that gives a different referendum criteria for large cities. 150,000 population would have a 5 percent trigger. Vote of committee by a show of hands. Amendment fails 37 - 43.
Annexation reform advocate Rep Larry Brown (R-Forsyth) proposes an amendment that would leave 15 percent but only those who voted in the last municipal elections. Per a question by chairman Michaux, newly registered voters would be excluded. Rep Allen and Adams. Amendment fails by a voice vote.
Vote on the bill as amended, passes by a voice vote and will go the floor next. As previously noted, the bill will not be able to be amended on the floor because the title is so tightly written.
For what real annexation reform looks like, click here.
Rep Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) proposes an amendment that would lower the referendum trigger from 15 percent to 5 percent to city residents. And from those in area being annexed from 15 percent to 50 percent. Argues that the way the referendum is so tight that realistically it is very difficult to qualify.
Rep Lucy Allen (D-Franklin) says this is a clear quantum leap and would be a tragedy and a travesty for "the economic engines" (cities) of our state.
Rep Bruce Goforth (D-Buncombe) says a vote of the people will not destroy cities.
Rep Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) says this would win the battle and lose the war. If this amendment passes it will seal the bill's death in the Senate. Says this undoes the balance.
Rep Larry Brown (R-Forsyth) supports the amendment. Rep Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) says cities die when they don't offer people what they want at a price people want to pay.
The House Appropriations Committee takes up House Bill 524, annexation - omnibus changes aka annexation reform bill.
Former chair of the League of Municipalities, Rep Lucy Allen, (D-Franklin) has an amendment that would take out the referendum. Argues the bill without it is strong enough and is equitable. Says very few people out of 500 cities object to annexation laws. Cities are the key economic engine.
Bill sponsor Rep Bruce Goforth thinks the utility service is a good idea, but opposes taking the referendum out.
Rep Hugh Holliman, (D-Davidson) who is the one who put the referendum provision in the bill in the House Finance Committee speaks against the amendment.
Rep Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) says the vote is the fundamental key to annexation - this guts the bill, begs members to defeat the amendment. Longtime advocate for annexation rights, Rep Larry Brown (R-Forsyth) speaks to the right to vote as what America is all about. "Are we for the citizens or are we for a bunch of lobbyists who want to hound you all day?,"
Rep Lorene Coates, (D-Rowan) says the people have spoken and they clearly want a vote.
Rep Hugh Blackwell, (R-Burke) wants to amend the amendment to take out the removal of the referendum. Chair Rep Mickey Michaux says that will not be allowed.
Rep Winkie Wilkins (D-Person), says some communities have been doing it right - shouldn't punish those cities that have been doing it right.
Rep Jeff Barnhart (R-Cabarrus) talks about providing fire protection service. He is in favor of the amendment and says "we can't go too far."
Rep Nelson Dollar calls for a record of the vote on the amendment.
The amendment fails 39-43.
As a new iPod owner, I am busy finding material to fill it. After all, why waste an hour of commuting time every day? The Ashbrook Center has a treasure trove of speeches by the movement's intellectual and political leaders here.
I especially recommend:
Peter Schramm’s "Born American but in the Wrong Place" Peter Schramm, the president of the Ashbrook Center, gives his personal account of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. He was 10 years-old at the time of the revolution and his escape with his family to the USA.
Schramm's February 2009 Lincoln’s birthday speech is one of the most moving tributes to Lincoln I have ever heard. Both of these speeches show that Schramm is a master storyteller.
Ralph Rossum explains Antonin Scalia's jurisprudence based on "text and tradition."
The late Tony Snow's speech in 1995 should be heard by every intern. He discusses the political situation after the Republican revolution of 1994 led by Gingrich. It is hard to remember what it was like to control both houses of Congress. For those of us who do remember, the slide into oblivion is depressing, but the lesson for today is unmistakable. Tony's last word was that to remain in power, the Republican Congress must cut spending. Well they did not and the rest is history.
Steve Hayward offers a fascinating comparison of Churchill and Reagan
Some familiar voices are:
Amity Shlaes on “How 1936 gave us 2008” Her discussion of Harold Ickes and his administration of PWA exactly parallels Obama’s stimulus spending.
Larry Schweikart on “American History”, but he also recounts his glory days before graduate school playing is a rock band.
Richard Vedder on “The American Economy.” Vedder is hilarious using his famous “West Virginia PowerPoint” to illustrate his data even though you cannot see him.
The N.C. Court of Appeals has upheld this morning Superior Court Judge Howard Manning's May 2008 ruling denying plaintiffs ("students, parents, and school boards from Hoke, Halifax, Robeson, Cumberland, and Vance Counties") $2.5 million in attorneys' fees in the long-running Leandro school-funding lawsuit.
You'll find that unanimous three-judge ruling here, along with the following:
A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a lower-court ruling siding with Pinehurst and against the gated Pinewild community in a forced annexation dispute.
A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a lower-court ruling siding with N.C. State University against an employee who contends he was demoted from his university job based on his age and sex.
A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a lower-court ruling to side with Greensboro and its Minimum Housing Standard Commission in a dispute over an order to repair or demolish a dilapidated home.
A unanimous three-panel affirmed a lower-court ruling that blocked Chatham County from permitting a 2006 rezoning for a "home improvement center and other retail stores and personal service shops" because of procedural violations connected with the rezoning.
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report about state air quality officials scrapping a report that might have hurt North Carolina's court case against the Tennessee Valley Authority.
John Hood's Daily Journal examines the problems associated with local governments using tax dollars to prop up ventures such as golf courses.