The Locker Room

June 22, 2009

Re: Education budget unveiled

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 6:59 PM

Are legislators serious about making strategic cuts to the education budget?

Not even close.

The fact that they will likely appropriate $12 million for dropout prevention grants says it all.

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Education Budget Negotiations Unveiled

Posted by Becki Gray at 6:58 PM

The Education Subcommittee of the Joint Conference Committee trying to hammer out a state budget by July 1 finally meets this afternoon after a couple of delays. 

We get a first peak at the "work in progress" of the education part of the budget.  The conference committee chairs have been meeting over the weekend and this committee receives a progress report.  They are over their target spending limit by $102,650.062 the first year; and $151,095,426 the second. 

The main sticking points that the conferees are having a problem working out are:

1.  DPI position reduction (House says eliminate 115 total, Senate says 300 total, Governor didn't specify a number)
2.  University tuition increase (The House increased it by $200 per student; the Senate didn’t)
3. Resident tuition for non-resident students (The House took out the whole allocation of #13,880,000; the Senate left the whole thing in)

A few highlights of what they have reached a compromise on:

1. There will be no reduction in the NCSU speakers' series
2. Centers located within UNC system will have funding reduced by $12 M the first year and $14 M the second
3. Drop out prevention grants will get $12 M (Senate had $1 M; House had $13 for Speaker Hackney's pet project)
4. More At Four gets $15 M less the first year and $30 M less the second (Senate had $86 M cut each year; House cut $10 M each year)
5.  Career & Technical Education (CTE) funding that the House took out ($12 M the first year; $10 M the second)  has been put back in.

The appropriations committee is making these decisions without knowing what the revenue package will look like.  Rep Ray Rapp (D Madison) does say they are hoping for "manna from heaven."  Does that mean that taxpayers are angels?

The committee adjourns with no real decisions being made.  The real decisions are made by the chairs of the conference committee with these proposals rolled out for consideration and information by the rank and file members of the committee.  Deliberative and transparent, it's not.


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New TV ad--fight the cap and trade energy tax

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 6:08 PM

Newt Gingrich's group American Solutions has produced a new TV ad that they are trying to raise money to run across the country. It's meant to counter the eco-social engineers and their attempt to take over the energy industry, like they've succeeded in doing with the auto industry. Chick it out.

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I thought taxpayers were picking up the whole tab

Posted by Becki Gray at 5:36 PM

As I'm waiting for the Joint Appropriations conference subcommittee on education to begin their meeting, a high-level education lobbyist comments that the holdup in the education part of the budget is in determining if the public schools are going to pay for the universities.

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Applying military strategy to the business world

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:39 PM

Can modern-day business leaders learn from 2,500-year-old quotations attributed to a Chinese general?

Mark McNeilly thinks so. The Lenovo executive is author of Sun Tzu and The Art of Business. He shared some themes from that book during today's John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury Society meeting.

Click play below for a sample of the presentation.

3:10 p.m. update: Watch the full 51:39 recording by clicking the play button below.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Perdue offers little substance on education

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:27 PM

Under the Dome has the details here.

"It seemed like it was just sort of a pep rally," said Ellis Harmon, a music teacher from Edgecombe County, who said he was worried about his pay being cut. "She didn't say anything specific."
The NCAE also failed to devise a coherent plan to deal with the budget deficit. Their default position - to tax the bejeezus out of everyone - reflects a failure to think creatively about specific, workable solutions to the budget problem.

I suppose it's all in the family.

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Special needs tax credits: let's get it done

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:59 PM

Tomorrow, the House Education Committee will discuss HB687 - Tax Credit for Children with Special Needs. This bipartisan bill would be a major victory for parents and special needs students.

Here are some considerations:

1) This bill saves the government money, while providing $10-18 million in credits for parents. Moreover, all of the state savings are redirected back to DPI for special needs children in the public schools, realizing additional savings for school systems.

2) This is not a voucher. The school does not even know if parents receive the credit, unless they happen to tell the school. If public school advocacy groups are truly opposed to vouchers then they should oppose Smart Start and legislative tuition grants for private colleges, which are actual voucher programs. In fact, last year 110 members of the House voted against the amendment to reduce “vouchers” to the private colleges.

3) Opposition to bill by NCASA (NC Association of School Administrators), the NCSBA (NC School Boards Association) and the NCAE (NC Association of Educators) has nothing to do with what is best for special needs children. They simply want to perpetuate the public school monopoly because they benefit handsomely from it.

4) Others oppose the bill because they think that parents are too stupid to make an informed decision about their child's education.

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Obama's Animal Farm administration

Posted by George Leef at 1:14 PM

A letter writer in today's Wall Street Journal sees the Obama administration as increasingly like the state that emerged in Orwell's Animal Farm. Here's the letter:

The parallels between the actions of this administration and the leaders in George Orwell's book "Animal Farm" are amazing. I presume under the Obama transparency dictum the five principles of the administration, as spelled out by Mr. Summers in his defense of President Obama, will soon be painted on the side of the Capitol as the Seven Commandments in "Animal Farm" were painted on the barn. If so, we'll have the opportunity to observe as the text changes and the changes are explained in fanciful rhetoric that the populace will accept. Meanwhile, capitalism dies and free choice goes with it.

Jerry Knoski
Tucson, Ariz.

Is the UAW the animal that's more equal than others?

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JLF knows the lottery

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:51 AM

The budget-saving state lottery is running well below projections in ticket sales and revenue for the state. Just $1.1 billion in sales and $350 million in net state revenue in the year ending June 2008, with state revenue of just $368 million expected in the next fiscal year.

Back in 2001, Roy Cordato and others at JLF said the state could expect $317 million in net revenue from a lottery based on sales of $933 million while Gov. Mike Easley projected $500 million on sales of $1.5 billion. By the time the lottery actually passed, in 2005, government projections were for $425 million a year in new revenue, a number that has never been approached.

Adjusting the 2001 JLF projection of $317 million for inflation yields $354 million. Go figure.

The lottery also gets more sales in poor counties and gives less to school districts with critical needs.

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“Hush, child!”

Posted by John Hood at 10:30 AM

Longtime CBS journalist Charles Osgood has recently been studying the climate-change issue in depth, given what he said on an April program: 

“The sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity—and last year, it was supposed to have heated up—and at its peak would have a tumultuous, boiling atmosphere, spitting out flares and huge chunks of superhot gas. Instead, it hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity. Right now, the sun is the dimmest it’s been in nearly a century,” said Osgood.

“In the mid-seventeenth century, there was a quiet spell on the sun, known as the Maunder Minimum, which lasted 70 years and led to a mini-Ice Age here on Earth,” Osgood explained. “Right now, global warming is a given to so many, it raises the question: Could another minimum activity period on the sun counteract, in any way, the effects of global warming?”

“Hush, child! You’re not even supposed to suggest that,” answered Osgood sarcastically. “The only thing that can change global warming is if we human beings—we Americans, especially—completely change our ways and our way of life.

“I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this solar dimming business, now that the story is out. Remember, you heard it here first,” Osgood concluded.

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Private insurance still works better

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:12 AM

Despite the best efforts by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pres. Barack Obama, among others, to expand government-provided insurance, the private sector still works better.

To fix leaking underground storage tanks, the state spends more than $2.6 million a year, plus $3.8 million in federal bailout money the next two years. A new paper finds that private insurance, by providing incentives, can cut the occurrence of leaks by 20 percent.

Safeway has saved 40 percent on health care through incentives. Patient-directed health plans have also produced savings. Insurance in Massachusetts, however, has gotten more expensive for people and government under reform. And the partial price tag for bills before Congress start at $1 trillion.

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About Obama's new financial regulation proposal

Posted by George Leef at 08:51 AM

Peter Schiff thinks it's absurd.

He writes, "Obama's plan focuses on the symptoms of the disease and not the cause. The American financial system imploded for two reasons: cheap money and moral hazard -- both of which were supplied by the government. Under the proposed new regulatory structures, these toxic ingredients will be combined in ever-increasing quantities.

Read the whole thing here.

At the end, he suggests, "With the transition now fully under way, I proposed that we end the pretense and rename our country 'The United Socialist States of America.'" Good idea. There's virtue in honesty at least.

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Jim Black story grows legs

Posted by Rick Henderson at 07:31 AM

Today's Charlotte Observer reports on the high-profile support jailed former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black is receiving as he pleads for either clemency or at least a transfer from Pennsylvania to a prison closer to his Matthews home. Backers include former GOP Gov. Jim Martin.

Among those writing for leniency were several lawmakers and former lawmakers, Charlotte investor Mark Erwin and businessman Cameron Harris.

Tony Zeiss, president of Central Piedmont Community College, and Woodward, the former chancellor of UNC-Charlotte, wrote on Black's behalf. The former speaker helped get millions for both their institutions.

But the Observer, citing a Carolina Journal exclusive published Thursday, notes that there are plenty of unanswered questions about whether Black got favorable treatment as he settled a $1 million fine that was part of his sentence on bribery and corruption charges.

While friends are rallying to Black, attorneys are defending a deal in which Black swapped land as partial payment of his million-dollar fine.

A Raleigh law firm that represents Black wrote the John Locke Foundation late last week taking issue with a Carolina Journal article questioning the land deal. Black was prosecuted in Wake County and, under law, fines go to local school systems.

While Black paid Wake schools half the million-dollar fine in cash, he paid the balance in nine acres of undeveloped property. The Journal noted it has a tax value of less than $150,000.

However, attorneys for both Black and the Wake school system pointed to a May appraisal of the land for $613,000.

And attorney Kris Gardner, who represents the system, said the property had been under contract in 2007 for $574,000 before the deal fell through.

“We feel very confident that the property value is worth at least $500,000 today,” Gardner says. “There may not be many takers right now, but the school system doesn't have to sell it right now.”


Over the weekend, CJ's David N. Bass and Jeff A. Taylor updated the story, finding other issues about the deal, including an apparent inconsistency about the ownership of the land that was surrendered, and whether prosecutors could have gone after other real estate Black owned instead of the undeveloped Matthews parcels.

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Trying to justify cap and trade

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

We also read a brief in the latest TIME (found in a slightly different form here):
The Obama administration’s first climate change survey found “unequivocal” evidence of man-made global warming with potentially dire consequences in the U.S.

Hmm. I wonder why we need to know now about the “potentially dire” consequences.

Richard Lindzen described the folly of global warming alarmism during a 2007 Carolina Journal Radio interview.

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Bureaucrats armed with statistics

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:39 AM

The latest TIME discusses the Obama administration’s efforts to reform American health care:
They've already stuffed $1.1 billion into the stimulus bill to jump-start "comparative effectiveness research" into which treatments work best in which situations. Now they're pushing to overhaul the entire health-care sector by year's end, and they're determined to replace ignorance with evidence, to create a data-driven system, to shift one-sixth of the economy from "that's what we do here" to "that's what works."

So what’s the problem? Click play below to hear Sally Pipes discuss “comparative effectiveness research.”

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Solving problems by printing money

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:38 AM

The latest Business Week offers us this assessment:

The nation's monetary base—consisting of bills and coins in circulation plus banks' deposits at the Fed—has climbed 114% over the past year through May. For comparison, the biggest annual increase before this crisis, going back as far as 1960, was a little under 16%. It's only natural to wonder whether the Fed is making a big policy mistake that will lead to high inflation, either soon or a couple of years from now.

Crazy as it sounds, though, the Fed is probably going in exactly the right direction. In fact, if anything, the wave of money it's generating may not be big enough.

I suspect the author of Meltdown would wholeheartedly disagree.

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Reversing the low-birth trend?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:36 AM

The latest Business Week tells us about the Japanese government’s efforts to boost the nation’s birthrate. That rate has climbed from a record low of 1.26 kids per married couple in 2005 to 1.37 to last year.

The discussion reminds me of one of the key themes from Mark Steyn’s America Alone.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:33 AM

The week's first Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' follow-up report on the value of property former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black surrended in order to pay off his corruption-related fine.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on the disconnect between politicians' rhetoric and actual government policies when it comes to big and small businesses.

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