The Locker Room

May 28, 2009

Response from Revenue Department

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:41 PM

As noted yesterday, the N.C. Department of Revenue has declined to give a definite answer on whether the verification of large families is a new policy under Secretary Lay's administration. A short time ago, I received this response from a Revenue Department spokeswoman regarding that question:

As you likely know, all deductions claimed on an individual income tax return are subject to verification by the Department. The number of dependents and filing status are amoung [sic] those items. This is long standing agency policy. What has changed is our verification process. This year, in order to increase organizational effeciency [sic] and effectiveness we are handling more of the verification process up front. This reduces our cost of collection and improves our ability to more effeciently [sic] carry out our mission of collecting the revenues fairly due the State.

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Wait ... I thought car dealerships were closing

Posted by Rick Henderson at 4:15 PM

From a press release by the National Automobile Dealers Association: 

[T]he Small Business Administration announced today it’s launching a pilot program that will—for the first time—provide eligible dealers with government-backed lines of credit to finance their vehicle inventory.

 Stephen Spruiell at The Corner quips: "I assume donors to both parties will be eligible."

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Correction, Sen. Hoyle: Incentives are "play and lose" giveaways

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:15 PM

In discussing the "incentives for Apple" bill, Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston) is quoted in the Charlotte Observer giving the legislature's habitual crocodile-tears approach to the issue (the Gee, we really hate this stuff but we gotta do it; we just gotta! approach):

Apple would get tax breaks that are worth $3 million a year and could grow to $12.5 million annually for a project expected to generate 50 jobs. An additional 250 contractors could get jobs tied to the center.

Apple would have to invest $1 billion over nine years. ...

Some lawmakers have raised questions about the state's continued practice of handing out millions of dollars to lure companies. Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat, said North Carolina is vying with other states offering their own financial sweeteners in an expensive competition for jobs.

"It's play or lose," Hoyle said.

No, actually it's play and lose. If our legislators are that convinced that lower taxes would be good for business and the economy — and indeed they would be — then they should stop playing favorites with tax policy and reduce taxes on everyone.

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Apple bill keeps rolling - SB 575

Posted by Becki Gray at 12:07 AM

Senate Bill 575, Modify Corporate Apportionment Formula a.k.a. Corporate Welfare for Apple was back in the Senate today for a vote on the bill as changed in the House.  Changes from the original Senate version include a requirement that the Dept of Commerce certify that the company will make a $1 Billion investment, added a wage standard and requirement that health insurance be provided and that the facility would have to be in a Tier 1 or 2 county.

With no debate the bill passes 42 - 6.  Because it is a bill that appropriates state funds, the final vote has to be held on a separate day. Final vote will be Monday night and then will go to the governor for her signature.  Bill sponsor, Sen. David Hoyle (D Gaston) commented that the Dept of Commerce was anxious to get it passed. Not nearly as anxious as Apple, I'm sure.

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High School Graduation Project no longer required

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:45 AM

The Senate voted on House Bill 223, No High School Graduation Project Required today.  In his explanation of the bill, Sen. David Hoyle (D Gaston) said athough the original intent was probably good, it was really poorly planned and there was not enough understanding and clarity on what was required and no funding was provided to local education units. The bill imposes a 2 year moratorium on the projects while the NCGA program evaluation committee looks at it to determine the effectiveness and cost of the project.  (Aren't there some other education programs that could stand a cost/effectiveness review?)  Bill passes 48 -0 and goes to the governor for her signature.

High school students across North Carolina are cheering! 

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Condoms: Just as effective as coitus interruptus, a.k.a. "pulling out"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:07 AM

Some interesting research from the Guttmacher Institute, per ABC News:

The act of withdrawal -- the male pulling out before ejaculation -- is a long controversial method of birth control, one many sex education classes have condemned as risky.

But [researcher Rachel K.] Jones' findings, based on several studies and data from the Guttmacher Institute , a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health where she is a senior research associate, were just the opposite.

Her studies found that in perfect use -- meaning the man pulls out every time -- withdrawal has a 4 percent failure rate, as compared to condoms, which have a 2 percent failure rate.

"But nobody's perfect," said Jones, who published her commentary in the June issue of Contraception magazine.

In typical use, when used consistently and correctly, coitus interruptus and condoms have an 18 and 17 percent failure rate, respectively.

Please note the researcher's distinction between "perfect use" and "typical use," because most sex-ed advocates prefer to harp the "perfect use" numbers in making the case that condoms are the perfect panacea for preventing kids from suffering the consequences1 of premarital sex, which therefore become easier to bear than the consequences of abstinence.2


1. These consequences are assumed to be only physical — not emotional. Furthermore, the physical consequences are assumed only to be related to pregnancy. Sure, there is discussion of venereal diseases, but when condoms are discussed in terms of safety, it is in the context of pregnancy, although an impression may be allowed to take that condoms are safe in prevention of venereal disease as well. It depends upon your definition of "safe." They are, after all, in "perfect use" safer than using nothing:

[The CDC's] fact sheet on "Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases" notes first that abstinence or staying in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is the best method of avoiding STDs. Afterwards, for "persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk of STDs," it cites the risk-reducing measures of "correct and consistent use" of condoms – and after citing that "condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD," it stresses again that condoms must be used "correctly and consistently." Incorrect use "diminish[es] their protective effect," and inconsistent use "can lead to STD transmission because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse."

[T]he CDC have also noted, "condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky."

A pregnancy-prevention failure rate of 17 percent is statistically the same as the hole-in-the-head-prevention failure rate in Russian Roulette. Consider, however, that pregnancy isn't a necessary consequence of sperm transmission; infection may be another matter. If condoms in "typical use" are only 83 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, just how less effective are they in preventing STDs?

2. It is assumed that kids have no ability to withstand "the urge," and therefore teaching them that the only safe approach to sexual activity isn't abstinence save in marital monogamy is foolish and dangerous. Given those assumptions, the educational goal becomes teaching that safety is in condom use, and therefore that it is foolish and dangerous to question condom effectiveness or promote responsible behavior.

Essentially, kids can't be expected to avoid sexual activity, but they can be expected to use condoms perfectly.

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RE: Gangster

Posted by Rick Henderson at 11:06 AM

At NRO, Jonah Goldberg says he's skeptical of the reports. Doesn't explain whether saving the McLarty/Johnson dealerships from termination was fully above board, but still ...

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Gangster capitalism, today's edition

Posted by Rick Henderson at 10:10 AM

CJ's Jon Ham has been following anecdotal reports that the White House may have played a role in which Chrysler dealerships were closed as part of the bankruptcy deal worked out by the adminstration and the automaker. (For instance, a dealer network co-owned by former Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson was spared the ax; their competitors weren't.)

Today's Washington Examiner weighs in with an editorial. Meantime, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds posts a note from a reader pointing out that the Obama administration's car czar, Steven Rattner, is married to Maureen White, former national finance chair for the Democratic Party.

Reynolds thinks the Department of Justice should look into this. I place the odds of that at next to zero.

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Sotomayor: "Where policy is made"

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:57 AM

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First look at the House Dept of Health and Human Services Budget

Posted by Becki Gray at 09:44 AM

The appropriations subcommittee for DHHS gets its first look at the House budget this morning. At a first glance, the only expansion is $115 Million the first year and $215 Million the second for projected Medicaid growth.  There are 157 reductions totaling $1.9 Billion for 2009-10 ($1.18 billion  recurring; $800 Million non-recurring) and $1.88 Billlion in 2010-11 ( $1.53 Billion recurring; $353 million non-recurring). The proposal eliminates 754.54 positions, some are unfilled, some are not.  Total DHHS budget for the first year is $3.555 Billion and $3.920 Billion the second.

Some items of note:
-$10 M reduction of Smart Start
-$16 M reduction in child care subsidies. They however will use $65 M in federal stimulus money for child care subsidies.
-$7 M reduction in LME administrative funding and pays providers directly
-Makes vital records operation receipt supported.
-Eliminates funding for 2 tobacco cessation programs
-Increases co-pay for emergency room for non-emergency visits and prescription drugs in NC Health Choice and Medicaid.
-Eliminates a fund set up in 2008 to recruit doctors to mental health hospitals which has never been used.
-Eliminates $1.2 Million to non-profits including Food Runners and institute of Medicine
-Modifies personal care services benefits in medicaid to "reduce overutilization" of services to save $49 Million

Not really cuts but a shift of funding:

-It replaces a lot of funding for specific programs with federal funds. Doesn't cut just shifts to federal taxes.-It also uses at least $241.5 million in federal stimulus money for programs that the state was paying for.

Committee debate brings up the point that this is a first pass and there will be some changes and shifting around of money. The committee room is full of lobbyists for health care providers and services and reps from DHHS, who I'm sure will be busy over the weekend trying to protect their interests. Committee members expect many emails and calls. The debate will continue next week.  And we'll be watching.

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Want to make cuts to education?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:39 AM

Start with the bureaucrats and the non-classroom personnel.

The General Assembly cannot fill the budget gap by eliminating non-classroom personnel only, but it is the place to start. My new report, "No Bureaucrat Left Behind," has the details.

Update: Here's the sexy video...

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Bev's your girl, NCAE. Remember?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:11 AM

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) is mad at Bev Perdue for proposed budget cuts to public education.

Let's take a trip down memory lane...

"Bev Perdue has been NCAE's partner in the effort to improve public education in North Carolina for years. She is a committed, determined leader whose record of support for teachers and the profession is second to none," NCAE president Eddie Davis said in a statement Saturday. (30 September 2007)
"Today we celebrate a victory for North Carolina's children and public education," says NEA President Reg Weaver. "NCAE and NEA members let their voices be heard in this election. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue has been a long-time advocate for public education, ensuring that our children have the resources they need to succeed and that North Carolina's public schoolteachers receive professional pay. Bev Perdue has supported public education, and, today, NEA members were able to return that support." (7 May 2008)
"Without a doubt, this has been a historical election season," said Sheri Strickland, president of the 65,000 plus-member North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). "Educators across the country--especially here in the Tar Heel state--were energized and mobilized. We're very proud to have helped deliver victory for these very worthy friends of public education--including members of our very own education family like Bev Perdue and Larry Kissell." (5 November 2008)
“NEA wanted to support candidates that would be pro-public education and would look to educators for help in making policy decisions,” N.C. Association of Educators President Sheri Strickland said. (17 November 2008)
The NCAE has helped Democratic governors such as Mike Easley and Jim Hunt get elected. It made an even more intense effort to elect Perdue.

John Wilson, the NEA executive director and a North Carolina native, said the group spent $2 million in the state, much of it on behalf of Perdue during the primary and general elections. That was more than the NEA spent on any state race in the country -- excluding referendum battles over school vouchers.

When Perdue seemed in trouble two weeks before the election, the NEA dispatched 10 staffers to North Carolina to help.

"We have a high level of confidence in her," said Wilson. "When you couple that with her opponent, who supported vouchers, which we believe undermines the schools, it just generated even greater support." (29 November 2008)

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:50 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen Welsh's report on a charter school group that has seen growing demand for slots at its North Carolina schools.

John Hood's Daily Journal pokes holes in the theory that North Carolina should raise taxes to balance the state budget.

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