Liberals Can’t Stand To See Republicans Succeed In N.C.

By Paul Sperry

RALEIGH, N.C. — If there’s one state that’s drawn the ire of Democrat activists, it’s North Carolina, a blue state turned bright red, thanks to dissatisfaction with President Obama.

Liberals can’t stand the fact that North Carolinians, after voting for Obama in 2008, thought better of it and voted to fire him in 2012, the only swing state to do so. The anti-Obama sentiment also swept Republicans into power in both the statehouse and governor’s mansion for the first time in more than a century.

At breakneck speed for politics, the party has made a series of conservative moves, including: slashing taxes, requiring voter photo ID, curbing Medicaid and unemployment benefits, funding school vouchers, banning Shariah law, amending the state constitution to protect traditional marriage and passing anti-abortion measures.

Naysayers on the left say the GOP is taking the state back to the horse-and-buggy days; they warn that the nation could suffer the same fate if Republicans take control of Washington, D.C.

Joining the chorus of haters is Obama shill Margaret Carlson. “A dystopian nightmare is unfolding in North Carolina,” she opines in a Bloomberg News column printed nearby. “It is what the whole country would look like if you were to marry David Koch to Ted Cruz.”

She claims the GOP agenda has kicked the poor to the curb, disenfranchised black voters and polluted rivers. She maintains that “beleaguered North Carolinians” are sorry they ever turned over the keys of power to such troglodytes. Though passionate, her tirade is a factual flop.

For starters, Gov. Pat McCrory’s job approval is higher than Obama’s, despite the NAACP and other leftist groups busing out-of-state hippies, union goons and rights activists to Raleigh virtually every week to protest McCrory’s “nasty,” “vicious,” “racist” policies. And the General Assembly is twice as popular with North Carolinians as Congress is with Americans.

Some 52% of Tar Heel State residents approve of the legislative agenda or wish it were more conservative, a recent High Point University poll found; 52% say they oppose gay marriage and like the state amendment banning it. The voter ID law’s also popular.

Unlike Obama, McCrory made job creation his No. 1 priority, and he’s gotten strong results. In January 2013, when he was sworn in, the state jobless rate was 9.5%. It’s now 6.4% — better than the national rate and the lowest since 2008. Joblessness in the state has dropped for eight straight months.


Economists call it the “Carolina comeback,” and they credit GOP tax reform and other pro-business policies.

Republicans flattened the high state personal income-tax rate to a lower rate of 5.75% while slashing the corporate tax rate to 5% to provide much-needed relief for N.C. businesses. As a result, North Carolina is 17th in the Tax Foundation’s state business tax climate index, moving up from 44th.

The only thing holding back the state economy is federal policy — namely, ObamaCare. It might cost North Carolina 74,000 full-time workers, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Ignoring the state’s GOP-led economic turnaround, Carlson seizes on environmental disaster. She blames McCrory’s “toxic deregulation experiment” for the Duke Energy coal-ash spill that polluted the Dan River, a source of drinking water, in February.

“McCrory was doing what he could to remove regulations on business so they could do pretty much what they wanted,” she wrote. “It usually takes a while to see what happens when business is allowed to conduct unfettered business, but not in North Carolina. The results are quickly apparent.”

Carlson suggests Duke got a pass from McCrory to leak pollutants. But internal state emails show McCrory’s Democratic predecessor — Gov. Bev Perdue — is the one who looked the other way. Regulators repeatedly tried to impose storm-water runoff controls at Duke, but Perdue dragged her feet approving them. Even the liberal Charlotte Observer noted that “the emails appear to show inaction by the Perdue administration.”

At the time, Duke CEO Jim Rogers, a Democrat and Obama donor, was cozying up to Perdue in Raleigh, as well as Obama in Washington.

In fact, Duke helped bankroll the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The roughly $15 million the company and Rogers donated to Democrats for the event was a small price to pay for the hundreds of millions in stimulus pork they had received from the Obama administration.

Carlson ought to get out from behind her desk in Washington and tour the state before maligning it.

If she did, she’d see a different reality and stop her silly scaremongering.

Sperry, formerly IBD Washington bureau chief, lives in North Carolina.

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McCrory Administration Accomplishments

This administration has initiated more change in state government than any past Governor in the past 30 years in a short eight months.”– Governor Pat McCrory

 

Tax Reform:

  1. The plan is uniform for all North Carolinians across the board – it broadens the tax base, lowers income tax rates and reduces taxes for North Carolina working families.
  1. It is also fiscally responsible and ensures appropriate revenue for state government services.

  2. Personal income tax rates – This reform reduces and simplifies the 3-tiered state personal income tax from the current maximum rate of 7.75% and minimum rate of 6% to 5.8% in 2014 and 5.75% in 2015.  
  3. Corporate income tax rates – Reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9% to 6% in 2014 and then to 5% in 2015 a 29% rate reduction. If the state meets revenue targets (i.e. if there is additional tax revenue growth due to a growing economy), the corporate income tax will drop to 4% in 2016 and 3% in 2017.

Vocational Education:

  1. Governor McCrory’s first legislation signed into law was a vocational training bill that will increase opportunities for high school students to enroll in high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs in areas with high employment needs.

  1. The bill will give students two educational pathways to success by establishing vocational and higher education diploma endorsements.

  1. The bill also directs the State Board of Education and State Board of Community Colleges to work together to develop strategies to increase the number of students enrolled in CTE programs

 

Commerce Reorganization:

  1. In the past, we have spent millions on economic initiatives, but they lacked strategic focus on positive outcomes – specifically net job growth.
  1. We will create a public-private partnership that will realign our state’s economic development resources and bring more good-paying jobs to communities across the state.

  1. This reorganization will emphasize job creation in all 100 counties in North Carolina.

Transportation Reform Through the Strategic Mobility Formula:

  1. The Strategic Mobility Formula will create more transportation jobs and allow us to complete more transportation projects to better connect North Carolinians to job centers, healthcare centers, education centers, and recreation no matter where they live.

  2. TheStrategic Mobility Formula will yield 260 projects and create 240,000 jobs during the next 10 years, 85 more projects and 66,000 more jobs than the formula it replaced.

Medicaid Waiver:

  1. Out of control costs and budget unpredictability in our state’s Medicaid system is crippling our ability to fund other vital areas of state government like education, public safety, and transportation.

  1. We made a huge first step in reforming Medicaid with a waiver included in this year’s budget.

  1. As a part of the budget, we are establishing a Medicaid reform advisory committee, which will advise DHHS during the waiver development process, which will eventually be submitted to the General Assembly and the federal government for approval.

Reform of the State Personnel Act:

  1. The State Personnel Act had not been changed in more than 60 years. The legislation Governor McCrory fought for and signed into law modernized the Act and began to bring the state’s human resources system into the 21st Century.
  1. The new law places an emphasis on mediation and resolving grievances in a timely manner. Under the old system, it took an average of 450 days to adjudicate a grievance, with one taking more than 1,000 days.

  1. Additional exempt positions provide cabinet secretaries flexibility in implementing business and organizational needs, while reducing needless levels of bureaucracy and government red tape.

Fact Sheet 12/12/13

Commerce:

  1. Since January 2013, North Carolina has created 80,100 net jobs, meaning 80,100 more North Carolinians are working today than there were this time last year.
  1. We have announced 20,709 of those jobs.
  2. We have announced $2.6 billion in investments.
  3. That does not reflect that total investment into North Carolina when considering the additional 60,000 jobs that have been created but have not dealt with the Commerce Department.

  1. In the latest jobs report from October 2013, North Carolina experienced the third largest over-the-month increases in employment.
  1. Our goal is to lead the nation in net job growth, and we won’t stop until we do.

Budget/ Revenue:

  1. North Carolina is spending less and taking in more.

  1. Taking in more:

  1. Through the first five months of this fiscal year beginning July 1, collections are ahead of revenue expectations by $19.7 million.
  1. This is $2.7 million ahead of where we were at the same time last year.
  1. This is mainly driven by better than expected corporate tax collections, up $62.1 million from what was projected, meaning businesses are making more and spending more money in North Carolina.
  1. Spending less:

  1. Through the first four months of the fiscal year beginning July 1, expenditures are $91 million below where we were at the same time last year.
  1. This means the unreserved fund balance of $1.243 billion is $297 million above where we were at the same time last year.

Unemployment:

  1. In January 2013, North Carolina had a debt of $2.57 billion scheduled to be paid in 2018.
  1. In January 2013, North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 9.5% with 453,425 North Carolinians unemployed.
  1. As of December 1, North Carolina now owes $1.9 billion and is scheduled to pay off our debt by November 2015, three years ahead of schedule.
  1. Thanks to our proactive measures to repair our unemployment system, our debt is below $2 billion.
  1. This progress comes at the same time North Carolina’s unemployment rate is at 8%, the lowest rate in five years.

Tax Reform:

  1. Lowers personal income and corporate tax rates for everyone:
  1. Reduces and simplifies state personal income tax to flat 5.8% in 2014, 5.75% in 2015
  1. Reduces corporate income tax to 6% in 2014 and 5% in 2015, a 29% reduction
  2. If state meets revenue targets, will drop to 4% in 2016 and 3% in 2017

  1. Closes loopholes for special interests such as eliminating the 1% receipts tax previously on admissions and replacing it with the standard 4.75% sales tax applied to all other industries.
  1. This ensures a fairer, simpler system that is fiscally responsible and ensures appropriate revenue for state government.

  1. Tax reform has played a major role in bringing companies to North Carolina:

  1. Lee Controls, a motion component manufacturer, moved their operations to Brunswick County from New Jersey, citing tax reform as a major factor for their move:
  1. North Carolina’s overall lower cost of doing business was a major reason why Lee Control chose to relocate to Brunswick County,” said Glen Michalske, President of Lee Controls. “We applaud the State’s recent tax reform, which allows us to reinvest in our employees and the future growth of our business. We are delighted to join the North Carolina community.”

  1. Tax reform has played a major role in allowing companies to expand in North Carolina.

  1. Received great feedback on tax reform from a recent trip to California.

Chapel Hill Professors Question Group’s Public-Records Request

Thirty professors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill signed a letter, published on Tuesday, that questions the motives of a conservative group that is seeking emails, phone records, and other documents from the director of a poverty center at the university’s law school.

The public-records request was filed in October by the Civitas Institute, which bills itself as “North Carolina’s conservative voice.” The group is seeking six weeks’ worth of documents from Gene R. Nichol, a former dean of the law school who is now director of its Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity. Eric L. Muller, a professor who helped circulate the letter, told The News & Observer, a newspaper in Raleigh, that he thought the records request was an attempt at intimidation.

Civitas’s president, Francis X. De Luca, rejected that criticism. He declined to say exactly why his group had filed the records request, but he said that Mr. Nichol, as director of the poverty center, was “not your normal faculty member” and that there were reasons “to want to know what he does, way outside of his role as a professor.”

Mr. Nichol also writes an op-ed column for The News & Observer. In a column published days before the Civitas records request was filed, he criticized the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, for not attending the funeral last August of the civil-rights leader Julius Chambers and for later signing “the country’s most oppressive voting bill.”

Mr. Nichol has squared off with conservatives before—notably, during his tenure aspresident of the College of William and Mary, in Virginia. He told The News & Observer on Tuesday that the new scrutiny from Civitas was unlikely to curb his commentary. “I’m too old for that,” he said. “I try to avoid being bullied by thugs, so I don’t think I’ll change.”

The professors’ letter was published online on Tuesday by The Chapel Hill News. The full text follows.

Civitas Request Troubles Faculty

The Civitas Institute, a private organization that says its mission is to protect liberty, has demanded to review all of the email correspondence, phone records, and calendars of our friend and colleague Gene Nichol, Director of the Center on Work, Poverty, and Opportunity at the UNC School of Law, over a six-week period this fall.

Surveilling a professor’s communications is a really troubling approach to protecting liberty.

We deeply admire Gene Nichol’s commitment to protecting and speaking for the state’s poor and disempowered. The only comfort we take from this sorry request by Civitas is our confidence that it will increase his passion.

Eric Muller
Maxine Eichner

Editor’s note: This letter was also signed by 28 other current and retired members of the university faculty.

Classroom Size & Vouchers: More Lefty Lies

Senator Thom Goolsby

As North Carolina schools crank up for another year, the de facto teachers union (NCAE) and its media lackeys continue to bash Republicans with outright lies and disinformation.

One big falsehood is that the GOP-controlled General Assembly increased classroom sizes. This is yet one more example of the length to which the Raleigh educrats (education bureaucrats) are willing to go in order to distort the facts.

For many decades when the Democrats were in control, the General Assembly established a one-size-fits-all mandate for classrooms across our state. This year Republicans removed the classroom size mandate and gave local school boards the authority to make these decisions. This devolution of power is based upon the belief that superintendents, principals and teachers have a much better sense of their local resources and where these resources should be focused. What a novel concept!

Legislative Republicans have enacted a major policy innovation inconceivable to the Democrats:  they have actually given power to local school authorities. If there is one thing the big government educrats will not tolerate, it is local leaders making decisions. The NCAE’s power comes from centralized, not decentralized authority. Republicans trust local leaders.

With local control, is it possible that class sizes could increase? Yes — for instance, a local superintendent may desire to increase class size in one grade in order to hire an additional teacher in another. The new law gives local authorities the power to decide what is best for students. By effectively targeting local resources, school leaders can enhance flexibility and protect programs that individual districts consider more essential.

How has the NCAE distorted the empowering of local authorities to set classroom sizes? The teachers union has declared that Republicans have increased classroom sizes and a willing liberal media has been happy to run with this fabrication.

But that’s not the only lie. Another fairytale concocted by the Democratic Left revolves around tuition vouchers. In this case, the misinformation breaks down into two claims.

First, educrats hint that tuition vouchers will go to wealthy kids whose parents could pay for their education. Second, they claim that these Opportunity Scholarship grants will take money away from public education.

Neither one of these claims is based upon the facts. Republicans, for the first time in state history, created a new pilot program that rewards Opportunity Scholarships to 2000 low-income students. Far from going to rich kids, these grants can only go to children who already qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

It does not take a math teacher to calculate savings to public education for each underprivileged child who leaves the public system and uses an Opportunity Scholarship. We know that it costs $8757 a year to educate a child in a public school. The Opportunity Scholarship grants will be in the amount of $4200. When a child checks out of the public system, $4557 additional money will be left in the public school system and there will be one less child to educate. So, you may ask, where is the loss to public education?

Regardless of the truth, the education establishment has roundly bashed the Republican voucher system for underprivileged children. This criticism flies in the face of locally-based private scholarships that have already worked very well in North Carolina.

Opportunity Scholarships aim to replicate these successes at the state level. One example of past success is the Charlotte Children’s Scholarship Fund. It benefits predominantly African-American, low income children. With the help of these scholarships, student performance in reading and math scores increased by six percentage points after just one year in the program!

As with giving more control to local education leaders, tuition vouchers offer yet another blow to the tightfisted grip of educrats and the teachers union. These big government Leftists desire centralized control so they can call the shots. They hate the fact that the GOP is eroding their power base and putting the Tar Heel state on the road to real educational reform. It is no surprise that the NCAE will resort to lies and misinformation to bash reform-minded Republicans in the union’s desperate attempt to cling to power.

 

Dispelling Education Lies

Senator Thom Goolsby

Last week, this column broke the fact that North Carolina ranks at the top (number 11) in state-level spending on education. Although the Tar Heel State ranks 45th on overall spending on education, it has nothing to do with any policy promulgated by the General Assembly.

In high spending states, city and county governments make up the difference. Apparently, our municipal governments see no need to pitch in money for education to the extent of cities and counties in other states. Regardless of this truth, the liberal North Carolina Association of Educators (de facto teachers union) and its minions in the press continue to wrongfully attack GOP state leaders.

This week, let’s look at another dishonest criticism posed by leftist education leaders:  Why won’t the General Assembly give teachers a pay raise? What’s dishonest about this question and the criticisms it raises? First, the actual pay rate of teachers is determined at the local level. All the Legislature does is set the base pay for public school teachers in North Carolina.

Local governments can always decide to pay their teachers more money. However, city and county officials always seem to have higher priorities than teacher pay. Maybe it’s a park, a new government building, hiring lobbyists for City or County Hall, a beautification program, consultants — you get the picture.

Local governments could help more, as they do in other states, but they do not do so in North Carolina. They escape accountability with the help of a compliant media. Instead, they blame “Raleigh.”

Here’s another fact — Republicans gave all state employees, including teachers, a small bump in their base pay of 1.2 percent last year. Democrats had provided no raises for the three prior years, before they lost control of the General Assembly in 2011. Just another little factoid you will never see in the liberal press!

It is also worth noting that when Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011 (the first time in 140 years), the state health care and retirement plans were in a shambles. The GOP moved quickly to do what the Democrats had been incapable of doing — Republicans protected state employees by restructuring and properly funding both programs, taking them out of the red and into the black.

With all this talk about money, what do teachers actually get paid? According to the NCAE, the average annual salary of a North Carolina teacher is $45,947.00. However, this figure is misleading. It does not include health and pension benefits (yes, unlike almost everyone reading this article, teachers actually have a guaranteed retirement pension). The average teacher receives $4,931.00 in health insurance benefits and $5,383.00 in state pension benefits, along with $3,139.00 in Social Security contributions.

So what is the real total annual compensation for a teacher who works an average of 10 months out of the year? Just under $60,000. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina teachers make almost twice the weekly wage of the average citizen.

Bottom line: do our really good teachers deserve more pay? Absolutely! That’s one reason why the General Assembly replaced the outdated tenure system with a contract system based on job performance. It rewards the best teachers through a merit pay system. Republicans funded this reward program for high-performing teachers with $10.2 million for bonus pay. Believe it or not, the NCAE opposed this reform!

Will we ever get the truth from the mainstream media when it comes to education? Sadly, the answer appears, “No.” It’s easier to ignore the facts, listen to the liberal teachers union and blame “Raleigh.” All the while, municipal governments are allowed to join the chorus and shirk any responsibility to increase funding for education. At least you now know the facts!

 

Hoodwinking Education — Lies Continue

Senator Thom Goolsby

With a wink and a nod, the left-wing media continues to help push the deceptive agenda of the teachers union (NCAE) in the Tar Heel State. It is readily apparent that neither the NCAE nor the media support real educational reform in North Carolina.

The original lie touted by the NCAE was that Republicans were firing thousands of teachers and cutting the education budget. After being forced to retract those fabrications, a new falsehood has emerged — the five percent increase in K-12 spending passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly does not keep up with the increase in inflation and student enrollment. Yes, another lie.

Actually, inflation is holding steady at 1.5 percent growth and student enrollment is increasing at half a percent each year. It does not take a math teacher to realize that a five percent increase in the education budget is more than enough to cover the two percent rise in inflation and student enrollment.

Similar prevarications and more were spouted two and a half years ago by Democrat representatives Rick Glazier, Mickey Michaux and Ray Rapp when the first Republican-controlled General Assembly in over 140 years passed its budget. These Chicken Littles were joined by a chorus of other liberal chicks, including then-Governor Beverly Perdue. The prophets of doom warned that class sizes would double, 20,000 teachers would be fired and the GOP budget would cause “generational damage” to our state’s public schools. More lies — and big ones at that.

None of these dire warnings came true. In fact, North Carolina public schools went on to post the highest graduation rate in state history at over 80 percent this year. According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), all teaching positions were fully funded, with schools adding 3,198 state-funded education jobs this year alone.

Another extremely misleading complaint made by the NCAE is that the state of North Carolina is at the bottom in terms of money spent per student and the GOP General Assembly, of course, must be at fault. According to DPI, total federal, state and local spending is around $8600 per child. This would indicate that North Carolina is in 45th place for education spending. Yet, here’s the rub: when it comes to state spending in the budget passed by the General Assembly, North Carolina ranks among the highest national percentages of funding from state dollars (11th in the nation and 2nd in the Southeast according to DPI).

Here’s the breakdown on funding:  the Feds provide 16 percent of K-12 funding and local governments around a quarter of the money. The state picks up the rest of the tab at just over 60 percent or $7.5 billion a year, plus hundreds of millions more maintaining and building schools.

So where does the money come from in other states that spend more on education? It comes from local governments through increased property taxes and bonds, not through state dollars. In other words, county and city governments are free to spend more on educating our children, but they choose NOT to do so.

So if spending more money on education is the goal, why aren’t the partisan press and teachers union going after local governments? Good question! Could it be that most of the municipal governments, particularly in the most populous areas (where most of the children live) are Democrat-controlled? Also, why didn’t the NCAE and leftist media go after the Democrats when they actually cut education spending after 2008 through 2010, just before North Carolina voters threw them out of power? Another good question!

The bottom-line is that we have all had enough of the misleading information and outright lies from the Left regarding education in the Tar Heel State. Despite claims to the contrary, the NCAE does not represent our children. It uses the money it collects from its members to support liberal candidates who promise the NCAE more money and power in return.

If improving education in North Carolina was a priority for this de facto union, they have an abysmal track record. The gig is up for these leftists. Try as they might, their stranglehold on education policy has been broken and better days are ahead for North Carolina’s children.  Reforms are in place and more are coming. In the meantime, expect the lies, screaming and shouting to get louder. However, rest assured that in the end, the truth will prevail!

Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees.

K-12 Education Cuts: Outright Lies

Senator Thom Goolsby

Vladimir Lenin said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Professional educrats (education bureaucrats) and their buddies in the mainstream media have taken this quote to heart.

Before Republicans passed the recent state budget, pundits on the Left had been screaming for weeks that spending on K-12 education was being cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. Here is just a little fact check for those who live in reality:  Republicans increased K-12 education funding by almost five percent or $361,407,582.

So where are these cuts? Good question. One can do a web search and find literally hundreds of liberal media articles and reports bemoaning non-existent budget cuts to education. Where is a truthful answer to our question?

What has happened to fact checking and real reporting by the media? Has the press become so hyper-partisan that it is impossible for the truth to reach the common person?

Republicans made huge educational reforms at the state level and the Democrat-controlled, left-leaning teacher’s union (NCAE) is not happy. They lost every battle they fought in the last session of the General Assembly.

Republicans understand that children must have a good teacher in order to learn. That’s why they ended teacher tenure. This old system was so broken that only 17 of North Carolina’s 97,184 teachers were fired for cause last year. Really? Only 17 bad teachers out of almost 100,000? Remember, the NCAE does not represent schoolchildren or parents — it doesn’t even represent all teachers — just those that pay it dues to protect the status quo in education.  Under Democrat rule, all teachers, good or bad, were guaranteed lifetime employment. Those days are gone.

Republicans have funded our state’s first locally controlled “merit pay for teachers” program. Over the next year, local school districts will develop a system that identifies their best teachers and rewards them with increased pay. That’s right, you won’t get paid more just because you have seniority.

Beginning in 2014, using a locally developed system, school districts will reward four-year contracts to the top 25 percent of the teachers in their systems. Even better, these contracts will provide $5,000 in pay for excellence to the best teachers, guaranteeing top teachers a $500 a year pay raise for four consecutive years.

What about the bad teachers? With the end of the teacher tenure system, local school districts will be empowered with the authority to remove bad teachers from the classroom. Now do you understand why the teachers’ union is so angry with the Republicans?

But, the GOP did not just stop there. Republicans adopted a new easily understandable grading system for public schools across the state. Every public school will be rated A through F. The new grading system takes into account early grade literacy scores, career readiness, overall student academic gains and preparedness for college. The NCAE did not like this plan either.

Lastly, the Republicans took steps to maximize instruction time by getting rid of unnecessary testing. The new changes also require that end of grade tests be administered only during the last two weeks of the school year in order to maximize classroom instruction time.

This is the new face of public education in North Carolina. This is real reform, not protection of the failed status quo. If you have not read or heard about these changes, you might consider changing your news source for a more credible one — unless you don’t care to live in reality.

Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees.

 

Senate Update—August 1, 2013

 

We Kept Our Word

In the 2012 campaign, I and my fellow GOP Senators made promises to the voters.  The 2013 long session ended early Friday morning (7-26-13).  You will find below a list of our promises with a check mark beside the promises delivered.  I will try to do this every long session as long as I serve in the Senate.  You deserve no less.  Accountability counts a lot where I come from….. (See 2013 report card below)

GOP Senate Legislative Priorities

Election Laws

ü  Photo Identification to Vote (#1 Priority)

ü  Total re-write of election laws

Tax Reform

ü  Significantly reduce and ultimately phase out the personal income tax

ü  Reduce and possibly the corporate income tax

ü  Close special interest loopholes, credits, deductions, and exemptions

ù  Expand the sales tax base to include services; lower combined state & county tax rate

ù  Reduce franchise tax rate

ü  Eliminate the estate tax

Budget & Spending Goals

ü  Reduce Spending (Between $250 million to $1 billion)

ü  Target underperforming programs and redundant programs for elimination

ü  Fix DHHS by reducing entitlements and bending the Medicaid cost curve

ü  Continue moving transportation spending in the direction of data-driven road building decisions

ü  Bring accountability to University funding

Education Reform

ü  Eliminate tenure

ü  Continue reading initiatives

ü  Project reforms from 2012 – including school grading & calendar changes

ü  Begin implementing teacher evaluations

ü  Institute scholarship program for lower income children

ü  Critical evaluation of University System (see budget)

Regulatory Reform

ü  Rules review & commission changes

ü  Implement standard for regular review of rules

ü  Reverse Hardison Amendment to local level

ü  Action to standardize local regulatory and building codes

2nd Amendment

ü  Concealed registry fix

ü  Expanded concealed carry laws

Energy Sector Development

ù  Continue moving forward with development and legalization of hydraulic fracturing

ù  Take steps to open offshore areas to development and exploration

Note: Democrats are complaining loudly about our legislative agenda.  I would be worried if they were happy.  I didn’t get elected by people in love with their tax and spend philosophy…..

I trust people who keep their word.  Talk is cheap.  Results are harder to come by.  You be the judge.  Many of you remember Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator who never lost an election.  Many people cussed Jesse because of his conservative views.  However, they knew his views were based on firm and unwavering principles.  I can live with that.  I have a few liberal friends in the legislature who vote that way and advocate strongly for their beliefs.  I can live with that as long as they stand on principle.  I can’t tolerate the fence straddler who is conservative or liberal if it meets the whim of the day.

            “When a President (or legislature) walks through The White House door and does what he says he gonna do, we’ll all be drinking that free bubble up and eating that rainbow stew.”—Merle Haggard

I ask my constituents to examine our legislative report card.  Decide for yourselves.  Talk is cheap – real cheap…..

There is still unfinished work to do.  The first difficult steps to reform government, education, taxes, regulations, infrastructure and election law have begun.  We will not stop here.  Stay tuned and share your thoughts with me as we continue the work……

Democrats Looking Out For Poor?

Maybe you believe that; Democrats sure hope you do.  In North Carolina, up until four years ago, Democrats were in charge for 140 years.  That’s right 140 years….. Now I ask you – if Democrats did such a good job looking out for the poor for 140 years – why are you still poor, still unemployed, and still looking for taxpayers to keep you up.  What Democrats really want is for you to keep voting for them and blindly keep chasing that rainbow…..

Republicans believe in helping the 10-15% who are truly needy and not the 40-50% who are looking for a government (taxpayer) supported retirement plan….. Not going to happen….. Maybe in Washington DC – not in Raleigh.  You will see……

Note: The working men and women I know are having enough trouble keeping themselves up and are unwilling to do it for that segment of the population who have become dependent upon it.  Enough is enough…..

 

State Senate Update 7-24-13

State Budget

Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina Senate tentatively passed a $20.6 billion state budget Tuesday.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard Democrats fight to deny tax relief for working families, impede our efforts to attract new jobs, reject meaningful improvements to public education and resume the same wasteful spending that led to a multi-billion deficit when they last controlled state government. In spite of their efforts, I’m proud the Senate was able to pass a budget that funds core priorities, strengthens our schools and makes smart investments in our future.

Don’t Buy The Rhetoric

If your only source of information is what you see and read in the news of the day, you’re missing a lot – a whole lot….. The agreed upon budget does many worthwhile and positive things:

  • Fully funds growth in K-12, community colleges and universities.
  • Spends more money in education, nearly $500 million, than the previous budget.
  • Eliminates negative reserves in K-12 budget.
  • Funds excellent public schools at $236 million (will strengthen literacy, improve graduation rates and increase accountability).
  • Eliminates tenure (provides $500 bonus to high performing teachers), $10.2 million.
  • Establishes pay for performance rather than pay for time served.
  • Gives increased flexibility to K-12, community colleges and universities.
  • Increases Medicaid funding and attempts to reform an out of control system.
  • Reforms transportation and project priorities to enhance highway infrastructure and promote safe and effective travel.
  • Eliminates needless and duplicative regulations.
  • Eliminates Rural Center and provides Commerce with tools to provide quick and efficient service to rural area projects.
  • Reforms outdated tax code.
  • Cuts a billion dollars in taxes for all taxpayers.
  • Funds budget with recurring dollars – not one time money as our predecessors continually did.

The Truth About the Education Budget

Yogi Berra – famous New York Yankees catcher and purveyor of famous one liner “Yogi-isms” – once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”  That is an accurate description of the sounds coming from the left regarding the education budget.  The North Carolina General Assembly has a history rich in dialogue and debate.  But, when it comes to the left’s dialogue about the education budget, I can think of no better characterization than President Ronald Reagan’s “here we go again.”

In 2011, we arrived in Raleigh with a $2.5 BILLION dollar budget shortfall to deal with right out of the gate.  I don’t know if you can wrap your mind around a figure this big, but trust me, it ain’t pocket change.  Did we have the luxury of piles of surplus money lying around?  No.  We had to find a way – without raising taxes – to balance the budget and provide adequate funding for the necessities of government.  And we did just that. 

The cries of doom and gloom from the left surrounded the budget process from start to finish.  I think “draconian” won the award for most over-used word by the left – a word that they tossed in every chance they had in hopes of scaring the people.  They had no facts, but that didn’t matter.  If you bought into their fear-mongering, you were convinced that public education in North Carolina was flat out going to shut down.  School doors would be padlocked and children would roam the streets with no hope of ever receiving an education.

I stood up in the Senate chamber and called them out for such outrageous grandstanding.  I said, “Schools will open in the fall, teachers will teach, and public education will continue to grow in North Carolina.”  Schools did open, teachers are teaching, and public education is on the road to great improvement thanks to the “Excellent Public Schools Act” and other much-needed reform legislation that was passed last session and in the current session.

So here we are again.  This time around the buzz word is “de-funding.”  Scare tactics and untruth once more are flying fast and furious.  But let the facts speak for themselves: 

The budget that we have proposed fully funds enrollment growth across the board.  And, the proposed K-12 budgeted amount for Fiscal Year 13-14 is $7,867,960,649.  This budgeted amount is 2.1% above what was spent in Fiscal Year 12-13, which was $7,705,071,707.  Now you tell me, is spending nearly $8 BILLION dollars on K-12 de-funding education?  Is spending more on K-12 this session de-funding education?  I don’t know about the left, but the folks I represent can answer these questions…

The bottom line is that we are funding education in North Carolina.  We are investing millions to help children learn to read by the 3rd grade.  (When community colleges and universities say that the biggest problem they have is freshmen not being able to read, something ain’t right.)  We are giving local school districts the flexibility to spend their State funds in the way that is best for their particular schools.  And we are keeping the budget balanced.  I’d say we are doing what we were elected to do…You will see…

Election Reform

  • We have an outdated, archaic state election code that is no longer relevant to today’s political landscape. Our election code hasn’t seen comprehensive change in 3 decades.
  • Our reforms restore transparency to the election process, create clear guidelines that everyone can understand and follow and reduce the opportunity for political gamesmanship.
  • Our bill also fulfills one of our most important campaign promises – ensuring the integrity of elections by requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Photo ID

  • Our bill guarantees any North Carolina citizen who wants to vote will have that opportunity. It establishes a list of valid government-issued photo IDs – including driver’s licenses, non-operator ID cards, tribal and military IDs and passports – that voters can present at their polling places. And it allows anyone without a photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • It also outlines a gradual implementation timeline, beginning with the 2014 elections, for informing voters and enacting the photo ID requirement, until the law is fully enforced in 2016.
  • For years, polls have consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support this common sense policy.
  • And our action makes North Carolina one of more than 30 states and one of the last states in the Southeast to adopt a voter ID law.
  • Our bill brings clarity and transparency to the voting process. It curtails questions of voter fraud by folks on both sides of the aisle and helps ensure every candidate wins or loses on his or her own merits.
  • Liberals claim we shouldn’t be worried about protecting our elections because voter fraud isn’t happening. But it’s reckless to claim the problem doesn’t exist when we haven’t been looking for it.

Early Voting

  • Our bill streamlines the early voting process to10 days while providing counties the flexibility to increase the overall number of early voting hours – ensuring ample time for voters to make their voices heard.
  • Currently, each county sets their own early voting days and hours on a location-by-location basis. This lack of consistency creates confusion among voters and increases opportunities for gamesmanship, since local election boards could set longer hours for particular sites to increase partisan participation.
  • For this reason, our bill specifies that all of a county’s one-stop sites must operate the same days and hours. Counties will continue to have the option to open polls on Sundays.
  • The bill allows time to verify voter information by repealing same-day registration, ensuring accuracy.  And it strengthens the requirements for absentee ballots.

Quotes

 

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” –Ernest Hemingway

 

In the 14th Century, St. Francis was a respected theologian, scholar and writer.  When asked this question, “What would you do if today was your last day on earth?” He replied, “I would do what I do every day – start my day with prayer and supplication, see loved ones, tend my garden and go to bed.” Sounds like a man at peace with himself and with his maker…..

 

Faded shirt, your weathered brow
Your calloused hands upon the plow
I loved you then and I love you now, Reuben James” – Alex Harvey

 

Take These to the Bank

 

·         You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

·         What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

·         The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

·         You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

·         When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of a nation.

 

 

Press Release

Governor, Senate, House Reach Historic Deal on Tax Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 919-814-2100
Monday, July 15, 2013 govpress@nc.gov

Raleigh, NC- Governor Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) announced late this afternoon they have reached a historic agreement on tax reform.

North Carolina has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country and needs tax reform to compete with neighboring states for job creation.

“All of us were elected to change the status quo here in Raleigh and address problems head on,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “One of the biggest challenges we faced coming into office was working to help create jobs in the existing environment. This tax reform plan is a major step in restoring confidence in the economy so that employers start hiring again, and it will help us continue to attract new employers. Just as important, this tax reform will allow North Carolinians to put more money in their pocketbooks so that they can spend and invest in North Carolina.”

The tax reform agreement provides fiscally-responsible tax relief to all North Carolinians. It will lower income tax rates for all taxpayers to 5.8% in 2014, allowing North Carolina families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The corporate tax will be reduced to 6.0% in 2014 to make North Carolina more attractive to job-creators.

“Reforming a state’s tax code is no easy task in the face of a barrage of special interests fighting to preserve the special treatment they receive at the expense of all taxpayers,” said Senator Phil Berger. “We’ve seen several other states – Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska – give it their best shot but miss the mark. I’m proud of what we’re achieving here in North Carolina – we are truly a positive model for the rest of the nation.”

The tax reform proposal is fiscally responsible and provides reasonable revenue growth every year to meet the state’s budget needs. Since tax reform is expected to grow the state’s economy and bolster the tax base, further rate reductions could be triggered by revenue growth in 2016 and 2017. However, if for whatever reasons the tax revenue does not grow, the further reductions will not be triggered, ensuring that state revenue is preserved for public services.

“This plan will provide tax relief for working families throughout North Carolina and will enable businesses to create jobs for our citizens,” said Speaker Thom Tillis. “Our state will become more competitive because of this tax reform legislation, and North Carolinians will have more dollars in their pockets. I congratulate everyone who had a role in this historic agreement, especially Representatives David Lewis and Julia Howard, who led this effort in the House.”

“This plan reducing both personal and corporate income taxes combined with the General Assembly’s successful efforts last session to repeal the temporary sales tax accomplishes broad based tax relief that is unmatched in North Carolina’s history,” said Governor McCrory. “No other state has accomplished this level of tax reform this year and I would like to commend Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger for their hard work and congratulate them on reaching this agreement.”

Tax Reform Proposal Highlights

Personal Income Tax:

• Reduces and simplifies the 3-tiered state personal income tax from the current maximum rate of 7.75% and minimum rate of 6% to 5.8% in 2014 and 5.75% in 2015.
• Increases the standard deduction for all taxpayers, applied to the:
1. First $15,000 of income for those married filing jointly
2. First $12,000 of income for heads of household
3. First $7,500 of income for single filers;

• Retains the state child tax credit and increases it for families making less than $40,000;
• Offers a $20,000 combined maximum deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes;
• Makes charitable contributions fully deductible;
• Protects all Social Security income from state taxes.
Corporate Income Tax:

• Reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9% to 6% in 2014 and then to 5% in 2015 a 29% rate reduction.
• If the state meets revenue targets (i.e. if tax revenue grows due to a growing economy), the corporate income tax will drop to 4% in 2016 and 3% in 2017.
Other Highlights:

• Caps the state gas tax;
• Eliminates North Carolina’s death tax;
• Preserves the sales tax refund for nonprofits.

 

Senate Update 6-25-13

Tax Reform and Budget Negotiations

 

If things seem a little on the hectic side lately, it’s because they are.  The House and Senate are debating tax reform and the budget at the same time.  Either one would be more than a plate full.  We can’t seriously get into the budget without first agreeing on a single tax reform bill.  We have to know the bottom line on the revenue first.  This may prove to be more than a difficult task.  With a tax code born in the 30’s, a lot of work has to be done.  More than likely we will take a small step, not a bold one which offers significant reform.  Time will tell…

 

Whatever tax reform plan emerges, I hope there will be a reduction in state spending and a tax cut for all North Carolinians.  Will this be enough to spur economic growth?  I don’t know.  I truly hope it will.  If we succeed in reducing the size of Government and cutting taxes, we will have moved the ball in the right direction.  This we promised to do when we (GOP) ran for office.  This we intend to see become law this session…unless the train completely jumps off the track…

 

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me on the issues important to you.  Many of your suggestions are under consideration at this time.  We will see…The next few weeks will be interesting.  Stay tuned…

 

State Unemployment Insurance Reform

 

During good economic times, previous Democratic legislatures and administrations made irresponsible decisions that hurt the solvency of our state’s unemployment insurance system. When the recession hit, North Carolina was completely unprepared to pay the flood of new unemployment claims and was forced to borrow more than $2 billion from the federal government. In fact, our state had the 4th highest UI debt in the country behind only California, Pennsylvania and New York.  House Bill 4 included a prudent plan to pay it off by 2016.

 

If the General Assembly had failed to act, the state’s debt would not be paid off until 2019. By that time, North Carolina employers would pay a federal tax of $718.2 million per year rather than the standard $79.8 million per year – threatening existing jobs and making it harder to create and recruit new jobs.

 

House Bill 4:

 

•           Required employers to contribute significantly more money to fund unemployment benefits.

 

•           Adjusted benefits to workers who lose their jobs starting July 1 to bring them more in line with other Southeastern states.

 

•           Grandfathered in people who were receiving unemployment benefits at the time of the bill’s passage. 

 

•           Rebuilt a $1 billion surplus in the unemployment insurance fund to prepare for the next economic downturn.

 

The General Assembly worked closely with the U.S. Department of Labor when crafting the bill, incorporated their feedback and had them review the bill for compliance with federal law.

 

Federal fiscal cliff negotiations threw a wrench into the plan by failing to grandfather our unemployment insurance reforms (set to begin July 1, 2013) into an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits. A condition of the fiscal cliff deal was that North Carolina maintain its current benefit levels in order to accept a one year extension of federal benefits.

General Assembly leaders called on Senator Kay Hagan (whose party in the U.S. Senate led fiscal cliff negotiations) and the rest of the N.C. Congressional delegation to grandfather in the unemployment insurance reforms into the final fiscal cliff package, so North Carolinians could be eligible for extended benefits.  Because of their failure to act, an extension of federally funded payments for those unemployed longer than 26 weeks did not happen.

 

Four other states (Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, and Rhode Island) had changes to their UI programs grandfathered in to a previous round of federal unemployment benefit extension negotiations in February 2012.  North Carolina was the only state with a UI reform bill ready to go when federal fiscal cliff negotiations were taking place in December 2012, so we were the only state with the potential to be grandfathered.

 

Finally, under the Sequester that took place on March 1, 2013, the federal government required a 5.1 percent reduction in unemployment benefits for FY 2013. If we had not passed HB 4, we would have still been forced to cut unemployment benefits anyway – without making our unemployment system fiscally solvent.

 

I hope this clarifies our position on the UI program in North Carolina which is scheduled to begin July 1, 2013.

 

Upholding Second Amendment Rights

  • The Senate version of House Bill 937 continues our commitment to protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding North Carolinians while strengthening safety measures for the public and penalties for criminals who violate our gun laws.
  • It expands the number of places that people with a concealed carry permit can carry firearms to protect themselves and their families. Concealed carry permit holders are adults over the age of 21 who have passed rigorous background checks and safety training.
  • For example, the bill expands concealed carry to restaurants with ABC permits whose owners have no objection – bringing North Carolina in line with an overwhelming majority of states that allow restaurant carry. Current law prevents those who carry from consuming alcohol, and our bill strengthens penalties for violations.
  • And it gets rid of a restriction that prevents concealed carry permit holders from keeping their firearms inside their locked vehicles on educational property.
  • The bill also safeguards the privacy of law-abiding citizens by keeping records of permit holders and gun owners confidential, except to law enforcement.
  • It eliminates a loophole that allows felons to purchase pistols – brought to light by the Charlotte Observer – by repealing the requirement for a pistol purchase permit. Instead, anyone who purchases a pistol from a licensed dealer will undergo a background check, which complies with federal law and follows more than 30 other states.
  • And it boosts safety protections by requiring mental health determinations be transferred to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and requiring sheriffs to revoke the concealed carry permit of anyone found guilty of a crime.
  • Finally, our bill strengthens laws against using guns inappropriately by:
    • Toughening the punishment for those who use firearms in the commission of a felony.
    • Increasing criminal penalties for violating the conditions of a concealed carry permit.
    • Making it a crime to allow young children to use a firearm.

 

 

 

 

Real Tax Reform Needed for a Bright Future

Senator Thom Goolsby

High taxes have stifled North Carolina’s economic growth for decades. The Tar Heel State has the highest taxes in the Southeast and ranks 44th as the worst state in the country for business, according to the Tax Foundation.

In the years running up to the Great Recession, neighboring states grew two to four times as fast as North Carolina. Due to higher taxes, our state has been forced to offer tax incentives in order to lure businesses here. Time and time again, when the incentives run out and the companies face paying North Carolina taxes, they leave or demand more tax breaks to stay. The math is simple for businesses – it costs too much to operate in our state.

Our current tax code was written during the Great Depression for an agricultural-based economy. Over the years, the tax system became riddled with exemptions and loopholes so politicians could pick winners and losers. This type of “good ole boy” mentality benefited lobbyists and special interests, but it did so at the expense of small businesses and working families.

The good news is that the North Carolina Senate has offered a new plan. It moves in the opposite direction of the past by simplifying the tax code and wiping out hundreds of the special interest loopholes. The goal is to make the tax system fair to everyone.

Not only does the Senate plan reform the tax code, it also updates the code, spurring our economy to attract 21st-century jobs. It is also structured to place more money into the pockets of hard-working families and job-creating businesses by reducing tax rates, as well as taxes. In just five short years, the plan puts over one billion dollars back into the pockets of working families and encourages job growth by providing tax relief to job-creating businesses.

Best of all, it’s simple. The first step is the phasing out of North Carolina’s personal income tax. Off the top, the current maximum 7.75 percent income tax is slashed 30 percent to 5.4 percent in 2014 and then to 5.25 percent in 2015. The food tax is phased out and eliminated by 2016. The death tax is abolished.

A new zero percent income tax bracket is created for all families for the first $15,000 of income, while keeping the child tax credit in place. Corporate income taxes immediately begin being phased out and will be eliminated by 2017. The business franchise tax and local business privilege taxes will be abolished by 2018.

How can the state afford these tax cuts? It’s quite simple – the plan holds the line on spending increases in the future.  The out-of-control growth of government must stop in order to control spending and for any tax plan to work. Further, the plan establishes and funds the key priorities of education, public safety and roads.

For years, free-spending politicians blew every dime in the state treasury, borrowed all the money they could and increased taxes. This type of mentality drove North Carolina to the edge of bankruptcy just three short years ago. After much hard work, the state has been put on sound financial footing, but now we must get competitive. High tax rates are killing North Carolina’s ability to compete with surrounding states, attract good jobs and grow our own businesses. The new Senate plan offers a common sense, well thought-out solution. It is our best hope for a bright future for the Tar Heel State.

 

 

Awarding Drivers’ Permits to Illegal Aliens is an Ill-Conceived Idea
By Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

Our nation was founded on the principal of “rule of law” meaning that people are responsible for their actions and the consequences that follow. In a civil society, it is necessary to not reward illegal behavior otherwise more illegal behavior will follow. Soon, the General Assembly will decide whether or not North Carolina will award illegal aliens with drivers’ permits. Rewarding illegal aliens with a privilege that is reserved for citizens and those lawfully present in North Carolina is wrong. This bill, if passed, will lead to two consequences. First, an influx of illegal aliens will come to our state for the purpose of working unlawfully. The drivers’ permit will exempt them from the E-Verify system, and they will be able to obtain an illegal job with little to no enforcement of their unlawful status. Second, if they choose not to work, they can use the state issued drivers’ permit to live here free from enforcement and tap into our state’s social welfare safety net. Either way, the law abiding taxpayers of North Carolina will pay the price through social services or through unfair competition for jobs, driving down wages and taking employment away from North Carolina citizens. North Carolina has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the nation. Ill-conceived legislation that harms our legal citizens who are struggling to make ends meet only exacerbates the problem. Those of us elected to office owe it to the citizens of our state to protect the rule of law. Our legislature should pass laws that encourage legal actions, not illegal ones.

 

 

Office of the Speaker

Rep. Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House

Friday, June 7, 2013

NC HOUSE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE TAX REFORM PLAN
House Bill 998 reduces personal, corporate income tax rates

Raleigh – Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives today passed the “Tax Simplification and Reduction Act” on its second reading, delivering on their promise to comprehensively reform the state’s tax code.  The 72-32 vote is the result of months of discussion around a tax system that was built on a 1930’s population model that has subjected North Carolinians to the highest income taxes in the Southeast.

 

Tax reform is not an event, it is a process,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg).  “During our first session in the majority, Republicans in the House began that process by providing more than a billion dollars in sales tax relief.  Today, we took another major step in that process by passing a comprehensive tax reform package that will provide across-the-board tax relief for North Carolinians.”

 

House Bill 998 eliminates North Carolina’s three-tiered personal income tax bracket system (with rates currently at 7.75%, 7% and 6%) and replaces it with a flat 5.9% personal income tax rate.  Under the plan, every tax filer would see a reduction in their personal income tax liability.  The plan doubles the size of the standard deduction and increases the child tax credit from $100 to $250 for families making less than $100,000.  The bill provides a $25,000 combined maximum deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, while deductions for charitable contributions remain unlimited.  Social Security benefits are not taxed under the plan.

 

The measure also cuts business taxes, reducing the franchise tax by more than 10% and shrinking the corporate income tax from 6.9% to 5.4%.  The plan would expand the state sales tax to only those services that are provided by entities that currently collect and remit sales tax revenue.  Essential goods such as medicine and food would not be subject to the sales tax.

 

The Tax Simplification and Reduction Act will provide the working families of North Carolina with more dollars in their pocket, and our state will become more competitive for job creation,” said Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), the bill’s sponsor.  “This comprehensive bill will move our state toward a fairer tax system that will help families prosper and stimulate job creation.  It is long overdue, and I am proud of the action taken by the House today.”

 

The bill is expected to receive final approval in the House on Monday, after which it will be sent to the Senate for consideration in that body.

 

 

 

A Different perspective on Common Core…..you decide for yourself!!

NC needs to realize Common Core is a conservative victory
Published: June 5, 2013

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/05/2941375/nc-needs-to-realize-common-core.html

By Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli

For some time now, outside groups have been vigorously spreading misinformation about the Common Core State Standards. The effort has been relentless, and North Carolina has not been immune to the falsehoods.

North Carolinians should understand that the Common Core arose as a state initiative and, with continued support, the standards will gain traction in schools and yield gains for students as well as for the state.

We can think of six strong, conservative arguments for supporting the Common Core:

1 Fiscal responsibility. You have already invested time and money to implement the new standards. Many districts have already spent scarce dollars training teachers for Common Core’s increased rigor. Calling for a do-over at this point would waste many thousands of man hours already expended. It would also forego the economies of scale that will come from textbooks and other instructional materials that will be cheaper because they won’t have to be customized for every state.

2 Accountability. The Common Core standards are pegged at a high level, which will bring a healthy dose of reality to the education reform conversation. No longer will state tests show that upward of three-quarters of young North Carolinians are “proficient” when the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows the number to be closer to one-third. The truth may be painful but, in the long run, it will serve your children, your educators and your state economy far better.

3 School choice. As strong supporters of parental choice, we are often asked how to reconcile our enthusiasm for the Common Core. Doesn’t it force a “one-size-fits-all” approach onto schools? The short answer: No. Standards describe what students are expected to know and be able to do. Written correctly, they do not dictate any particular curriculum or pedagogy. Plus, the information that comes from standards-based testing gives parents a common yardstick with which to judge schools and make informed choices.

4 Competitiveness. While the U.S. dithers, other countries are eating our lunch. If we don’t want to cede the 21st century to our economic and political rivals – China especially – we need to ensure that many more young Americans emerge from high school truly ready for college and career. No, that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to go to a four-year liberal arts college. But as Lamar Alexander used to say when governor of Tennessee, “Better schools mean better jobs.” This is why the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce support the standards because they will help ensure that students are ready to succeed on the job.

5 Innovation. The Common Core standards are encouraging a huge amount of investment from states, philanthropy groups and private firms, which is producing Common Core-aligned textbooks, e-books, professional development, online learning and more. Online learning especially is going to open up a world of choices for students and families, and it is going to be aligned to the Common Core, not to individual state standards. (Just in the past few weeks, we learned that the much-admired Khan Academy is developing Common Core-aligned math lessons for students or schools to use at no cost.)

6 Traditional education values. The Common Core standards are worth supporting because they’re educationally solid. They are rigorous, they are traditional – one might even say they are “conservative.” They expect students to know their math facts, to read the nation’s founding documents and to evaluate evidence and come to independent judgments. In all of these ways, they are miles better than three-quarters of the state standards they replaced – standards that hardly deserve the name and that often pushed the left-wing drivel that Common Core critics say they abhor.

We understand that many conservatives are justifiably angry about the inappropriate role the Obama administration has played in promoting and taking credit for these standards, which in fact arose from state leadership. The standards were developed by the states, and implementation is unquestionably a state effort, not a federal one.

Yet we see the Common Core as a great conservative victory. The standards are solid and traditional. They don’t give into moral relativism, blame-America-first or so many other liberal nostrums that have infected our public schools.

At the end of the day, the facts matter. We hope that North Carolina will be guided by them and stay the course with the Common Core. It’s really a victory for everyone.

Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli are, respectively, president and executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-of-center education-policy think tank. Finn served in the Reagan administration; Petrilli served in the George W. Bush administration. Both are affiliated with the Hoover Institution. 

A Message from Lt. Governor Dan Forest about “Common Core”

Dear Friends,

Today, I released the following video ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdCav9-2Ri4&feature=youtu.be) to address my concerns with Common Core standards and our State’s rush to implement them in our 115 school districts. As you may know, by nature of being Lieutenant Governor, I also serve on the State Board of Education. I have asked the chair of the state board for the topic of Common Core to be added to the agenda of all foreseeable board meetings so that the newly seated board may look at Common Core with a fresh pair of eyes.

Please watch the video and give me your feedback. Feel free to share it with others who may also have concerns with Common Core.

Thank you.

Dan Forest

 

 

Senate update from Senator Jerry Tillman

June 4, 2013

Common Core

Recently I’ve been inundated with correspondence concerning the Common Core curriculum. I have my own concerns. Former Governor Beverly Perdue, along with the Department of Public Instruction led by June Atkinson – State Superintendent of Education – joined forces to make N.C. a part of the National Common Core initiative. Its impetus came from a grant of approximately $430 million called “Race to the Top.” North Carolina along with 44 other states was awarded grants – the “catch” – you had to implement the ill-advised Common Core Curriculum. This benign sounding codicil to the grant is the “catch” that’s causing concern.

Of the 44 other states involved, several are searching for ways to get out, and a few already have. Getting out won’t be easy….. North Carolina has already spent about $220 million of the $430 million grant. We’re midway in implementing various elements of the plan. Obvious questions arise:

• Are there parts worth keeping?
• What’s the penalty for getting out?
• How to repay the $220 million already spent?
• How are LEA’s and individual schools (teachers and students) affected?
• Will we be better off or worse if Common Core is dropped in North Carolina?
• Are standards high enough for real student achievement?

I don’t have all the answers. I am trying to find them. Why, you might ask should we question the efficacy of the Common Core curriculum? The reasons for keeping it that I’ve heard are weak. The reasons for abandoning it are many. Let’s shine the light of day on it and see what happens….. Without a “down in the weeds” discussion – there’ll be time for that later – I will sum up my overriding concern:

• Why should North Carolina hand over control of its curriculum to the Federal government or anyone else for that matter? I don’t trust Washington to run education in North Carolina. If you know of success stories about Washington, D.C. running anything well – let me know. What they are good at: spending money they don’t have to provide programs we don’t need (for the most part). You will see…..

Education was never intended to be a Federal government program. We would be better off without the Federal Department of Education. Let us keep the money we’re sending to D.C. It would be better spent and the return would be far greater.
It might be late in the game to call for a closer look at Common Core. Some say it is. I say, we’ll see….. You’ve not heard the last word on this issue…..

Once again, public awareness is outpacing its elected representatives. The more people I talk to, the more I realize the potential harm that will result when we assume someone else can better speak for North Carolina education than we (North Carolina) can. I don’t want North Carolina to be an experimental testing ground for something as critical as our curriculum. Do you? I’m NOT ready to hand over parental choice and state control to Washington. Are you?

Tax Fairness Act
Why does North Carolina need to cut taxes and reform our tax system?

• North Carolina’s outdated tax code was written in the 1930s – during the Great Depression – for an economy based on agriculture. The Tax Fairness Act simplifies and updates North Carolina’s tax code to spur our economy and attract 21st century jobs.
• North Carolina has the Southeast’s highest tax rates and tax burden. The Tax Fairness Act will put more money in the pockets of North Carolina’s hardworking families and job-creating businesses by reducing taxes and tax rates. It will make North Carolina more competitive with our neighbors in the fight to attract new business and jobs to the state and will help protect and grow North Carolina’s existing businesses.
• North Carolina’s tax system is riddled with loopholes and exemptions that benefit special interests at the expense of families and small businesses. The Tax Fairness Act eliminates hundreds of these special-interests loopholes to make North Carolina’s tax system fair to everyone.

What does the Tax Fairness Act do?

• Over three years, the Tax Fairness Act puts over a billion dollars back into the pockets of North Carolina’s hardworking families and encourages job growth by providing needed tax relief to job-creating businesses.
• It is the first step in the Senate’s long-term commitment to phasing out North Carolina’s personal and corporate income taxes.
• The Tax Fairness Act reduces the top state personal income tax rate from 7.75 to 4.5 percent over three years and reduces the tax rate on lower income earners from 6 to 0 percent immediately.
• It includes a new zero percent state income tax bracket to cover the following income amounts:

First $10,000 of income in 2014
First $12,500 of income in 2015 and 2016
First $15,000 of income in 2017

• It reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9 percent to 6 percent over three years.
• It reduces the combined local and state sales tax from 6.75 percent to 6.5 percent and expands the sales tax base to include services.
• It reduces the business franchise tax by 10 percent.
• It eliminated North Carolina’s death tax.
• It DOES NOT change federal tax deductions like the ones for home mortgages and child tax credits.

How does the Tax Fairness Act work?

• The Tax Fairness Act makes North Carolina’s tax code more fair and simple by closing special interest loopholes and exemptions and eliminating complicated deductions and credits that pick winners and losers. Some examples include a tax credit for recycling oyster shells, a sales tax exemption for horses and mules, a sales tax exemption for wood chippers for out-of-state use and a sales tax refund for aviation fuel for motorsports events.
• For the first time, the Tax Fairness Act treats all professionals equally by expanding the sales tax to services. For example, under the old system people have to pay sales tax when they buy clothes but not when they purchase legal services. The new system treats both businesses who sell legal services and clothes equally.
• And the Tax Fairness Act uses these savings to fairly reduce personal income, corporate income and sales tax rates.

How do we afford these tax cuts?

• It’s simple. We hold the line on spending. For years, our state budget has continued to grow and grow. If we just stop the out-of-control growth of government, we will be able to pay for the largest tax cut in state history AND fund our key priorities of education, healthcare and roads.

Filing The Medicaid Hole
For months now, we’ve seen how unexpected, out-of-control costs in North Carolina’s Medicaid program are undermining our ability to fund key priorities like education, transportation and public safety.
Last week, the Senate passed legislation to fill yet another Medicaid shortfall. Earlier this month, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of State Budget and Management announced that, because of a forecasting error made under the administration of former Gov. Beverly Perdue, the shortage was even higher than expected.
House Bill 980 authorizes the executive branch to redirect up to $401 million in additional state dollars to meet our obligations to Medicaid recipients and the federal government through June 30, 2013.
It is the latest in a series of bills we’ve been forced to pass because of overspending in Medicaid. In 2012, the General Assembly fixed a surprise Medicaid shortfall that totaled more than $500 million, and a recent report from the Office of the State Auditor found shortfalls totaling approximately $1.4 billion over the last three years.
That’s why the budget we passed last week includes a special provision allowing the executive branch to develop a comprehensive plan for Medicaid reform over the next several months. This action is the first step necessary to bring about meaningful change to North Carolina’s Medicaid program.
We appreciate the Governor’s leadership in spearheading this much-needed reform and look forward to working together to fix our state’s broken Medicaid system.
Civitas Poll: Sen. Hagan Is Toss-Up on Ballot against a Generic Republican
RALEIGH – The latest Civitas Poll suggests U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan could face serious competition in 2014. Given a ballot choice between Hagan, a Democrat, and a Republican candidate, 44 percent of voters chose the Republican, while 42 percent selected Hagan.
The poll of 600 registered North Carolina voters had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percent.
“Hagan continues to poll below the 50 percent mark that signals strong support for an incumbent,” said Civitas President Francis X. De Luca. “However, responses to a real GOP candidate may be different than for a generic label. Neither party should be complacent at this point.”
It also appears that North Carolina voters are moving towards electing someone to act as a check on the president as opposed to someone to support his policies. In February 2013, there was a 1-point difference and this month it was a 6-point difference towards electing someone “who will be a check and balance to President Obama’s programs and policies.”
Actual text of questions from the Civitas Poll*:
If the election for US Senate was being held today and you had to make a choice, for whom would you vote between: the Republican candidate or Kay Hagan, the Democrat?
44% Total Republican
42% Total Hagan

Crafting a Balanced, Fiscally Responsible Budget

The North Carolina Senate fulfilled one of its most important promises to voters this past week by passing a balanced budget that invests in essential services without raising tax rates.

 

You-the taxpayers of our great state-entrusted us to put North Carolina’s fiscal house in order. For far too long our state’s previous leaders tried to tax, spend and borrow their way to prosperity. Instead, they created massive debt, ran up record deficits, and produced a sluggish economy.

 

On Thursday, the Senate followed Gov. Pat McCrory’s lead in crafting a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that continues to invest in core priorities, streamline state government, reform public education and grow North Carolina’s economy.

 

Like the governor’s proposal, our budget safeguards North Carolina’s long-term fiscal health by investing in critical infrastructure improvement and shoring up reserve and rainy day funds.

 

The $20.58 billion plan – which comes within less than one-tenth of one percent of the governor’s proposal – offers a prudent 2.3 percent increase in overall spending while laying the groundwork for the largest tax cut in state history.

 

The Senate budget accomplishes this while including over $1.2 billion in additional state dollars to fund out-of-control, unexpected costs in Medicaid, a runaway federal entitlement program that is diverting funds away from priorities like education, transportation and our judicial system.

 

We’re eager to work with the governor and the House of Representatives to adopt a budget that smartly invests in our key priorities while living within our means.

 

Here are a few budget highlights:

 

· Fully funds enrollment growth in K-12, community colleges and the university system.

 

· Provides $53.6 million to continue comprehensive education reform to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, increase accountability in the classroom, and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children’s education.

 

· Continues efforts to maintain and invest in critical infrastructure; remove political influence from project decision-making; reduce bureaucracy; and enhance customer service.

 

· Incorporates the governor’s vision for overhauling the North Carolina Highway Trust Fund, which consolidates various funding streams to prioritize and accelerate transportation infrastructure projects at the state, regional and local level by an estimated 35 percent over the next ten years.

 

· Launches a new Rural Economic Development Division within the state Department of Commerce and invests approximately $55 million over two years in a new Rural Infrastructure Authority, a streamlined and efficient program that will offer one-stop shopping where our communities can get the support and resources they need.

 

· Continues efforts to maintain our state’s strong commitment to agriculture, water efficiency and domestic energy production.

 

· Emphasizes a commitment to keeping North Carolinians safe by providing funding for additional key public safety personnel; investing in critical emergency response technology; and connecting law enforcement agencies at the local and state level.

 

· Fully funds the state retirement system.

 

I’m proud of the Senate’s commitment to delivering budgets that reasonably and responsibly direct available resources toward real needs. This plan creates a solid foundation on which North Carolina can build a future.

 

SBI Transfer to Public Safety a Smart Move

Senator Thom Goolsby

 

Attorney General Roy Cooper’s recent dog and pony show was an embarrassment to his office. Cooper had gotten wind that Senate budget writers were planning to transfer the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) from Cooper’s control to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The long-serving Democrat Attorney General wants to keep the SBI. The best excuse he could make was that he needs the agents to fight public corruption.

Can anyone remember any heavy lifting by Cooper during the investigation of former Governor Mike Easley? What about the investigations of Perdue’s henchmen who recently entered criminal pleas? Cooper, not known as a litigator, needs to come up with a better argument for his case.

He apparently did not read the budget document very carefully, because the agents tasked to the small public corruption section (less than a dozen in number) were left with him. As for the rest of the SBI, they are being sent to DPS where all of the other state law enforcement agencies reside. Word from the agents in the field is that they will be glad to be under DPS Secretary Kieran Shanahan who, unlike Cooper, is a former Assistant United States Attorney and a seasoned prosecutor.

Another thing that Shanahan has going for him is that he has no embarrassing legacy of presiding over multiple fiascoes as does Cooper. This is the same Attorney General who presided over the debacle at the SBI where agents withheld exculpatory evidence or distorted it in more than 230 cases over a 16-year period.

Cooper was made aware of the problems as early as 2005, when he was pressed by activists and the media to look into the case of Floyd Brown. Somehow the mentally disabled Brown, who could not recite the alphabet past the letter K, was able to give SBI investigators a confession detailing how he murdered an elderly woman in his neighborhood. After 14 years in a mental institution, Brown was exonerated in 2007. For his part, Cooper never bothered to order an investigation into the case until 2009. Even then, he only did so in face of a lawsuit.

When he’s not committing malfeasance, he’s committing nonfeasance. In other words, Cooper is missing in action whenever hard choices need to be made. Take for instance the recent fight over restarting North Carolina’s death penalty and repealing the ill-named Racial Justice Act. Why wasn’t Cooper at the General Assembly, standing toe to toe with District Attorneys from across the state? He was nowhere to be found. What about the General Assembly’s call for North Carolina to stand with other states fighting the socialized medical mandates of ObamaCare? Cooper said no, he would not help. Yet he was somehow able to find time to oppose North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment, supported by 61% of the citizens.

In the end, we have an Attorney General who is neither a fighter nor a leader — and not much of an administrator. His justification for keeping the SBI is that he wishes to use it for public corruption cases when less than a dozen agents are assigned to that unit. Cooper personally has no track record of a successful prosecution. In fact, the NC Attorney General has no constitutional authority to prosecute anyone.

Senate budget writers decided to place the SBI with the rest of the state’s law enforcement divisions in order to enhance coordination among the agencies. Significant savings of up to $2 million are expected from consolidation starting in its second year. A chief budget writer and the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Brown (R-Onslow), said it best in an interview with the Associated Press:  “It simply does not make sense for the state’s top attorney to supervise the SBI, just like it wouldn’t make sense for your local district attorney to supervise sheriffs or police.” Sen. Brown, an auto dealer by trade, didn’t need a law degree to come up with his common sense answer.

The fact is that Roy Cooper doesn’t deserve the SBI just because he wants it. Instead, the hard working SBI agents deserve a place with the rest of the state’s law enforcement in order to be fully utilized and the people of North Carolina deserve to save $2 million a year.

 


Tax Reform

The Senate tax reform plan will be unveiled this week. Tax reform was promised in our campaign in 2012.  It’s been talked about and other attempts at reform have all failed. Now is the time to bring fairness and equity to our 1930’s tax code.

Why does North Carolina need to cut taxes and reform our tax system?

·         North Carolina’s outdated tax code was written in the 1930s – during the Great Depression – for an economy based on agriculture. The Tax Fairness Act simplifies and updates North Carolina’s tax code to spur our economy and attract 21st century jobs.

·         North Carolina has the Southeast’s highest tax rates and tax burden. The Tax Fairness Act will put more money in the pockets of North Carolina’s hardworking families and job-creating businesses by reducing taxes and tax rates. It will make North Carolina more competitive with our neighbors in the fight to attract new business and jobs to the state and will help protect and grow North Carolina’s existing businesses.

·         North Carolina’s tax system is riddled with loopholes and exemptions that benefit special interests at the expense of families and small businesses. The Tax Fairness Act eliminates hundreds of these special-interests loopholes to make North Carolina’s tax system fair to everyone.

What does the Tax Fairness Act do?

·         Over three years, the Tax Fairness Act puts over a billion dollars back into the pockets of North Carolina’s hardworking families and encourages job growth by providing needed tax relief to job-creating businesses.

·         It is the first step in the Senate’s long-term commitment to phasing out North Carolina’s personal and corporate income taxes.

·         The Tax Fairness Act reduces the top state personal income tax rate from 7.75 to 4.5 percent over three years and reduces the tax rate on lower income earners from 6 to 0 percent immediately.

·         It includes a new zero percent state income tax bracket to cover the following income amounts:

o   First $10,000 of income in 2014

o   First $12,500 of income in 2015 and 2016

o   First $15,000 of income in 2017

·         It reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9 percent to 6 percent over three years.

·         It reduces the combined local and state sales tax from 6.75 percent to 6.5 percent and expands the sales tax base to include services.

·         It reduces the business franchise tax by 10 percent.

 

 

McCrory names revamped NC elections board April 26, 2013

 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is putting his stamp on the board responsible for running elections and monitoring campaign finance reports statewide. McCrory announced Friday he’s appointing a new State Board of Elections. Three are Republicans and two are Democrats, a choice reflecting GOP control over state government. The appointments take effect Wednesday, the day after the current, Democrat-led elections board votes on whether to open a campaign finance investigation into 2012 political donations from the operators of sweepstakes games.

The elections board’s new Republican members will be lawyers Josh Howard of Wake County and Paul Foley of Forsyth County, and Rhonda Amoroso of New Hanover County. Democratic Party members will be Joshua Malcolm of Robeson County and Maja Kricker of Chatham County. Both chair their county elections boards.

 

Office of the Speaker
Rep. Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House

Contact: Jordan Shaw
Communications Director
919.999.7907
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
IN HISTORIC BIPARTISAN VOTE, NC HOUSE PASSES VOTER ID BILL

Raleigh – After more than three years of public discussion around the issue of voter identification, a bipartisan majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives today passed a bill that moves North Carolina to a photo ID voting structure. The vote is the result of a 10-month process that included multiple public hearings, hours of testimony by experts and members of the public, and in-depth analysis of voter ID systems in numerous other states.

House Bill 589, the “Voter Information Verification Act,” passed the House on its second reading today with a vote of 81-36 – a bipartisan vote on one of the key pieces of legislation for the Republican House majority. The bill is a product of months of work by bill sponsors and leadership of the House Elections Committee: Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Rep. Tom Murry (R-Wake), Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

“North Carolinians consistently and overwhelmingly support photo ID requirements for voting,” Tillis said. “This bill not only responds to the opinions of our constituents, but also provides individuals without photo ID’s with an opportunity to acquire them at no cost. This common-sense measure will protect the integrity of the ballot box and restore confidence in our election system.”

The bill is a sweeping effort to improve North Carolina’s voting process by requiring citizens to show photo identification when voting and would be fully implemented by 2016. The measure utilizes the 2014 elections as a bridge to identify which voters may be without an accepted form of photo ID and establishes a program to help citizens acquire a free photo identification card through the Department of Motor Vehicles. For citizens without photo ID’s, non-operator photo ID cards will be issued at no direct cost to the voter through the DMV.

Beyond the photo identification requirement, the bill takes steps to ensure the integrity of provisional and absentee ballots. It also directs the State Board of Elections to study the use of modern technology in voting, paving the way for further efficiency through digital efforts in the future.

“This is a historic vote for North Carolina,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg). “This strong message of bipartisanship on such an important, and at times controversial, issue is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the House members who remained committed to this effort for many months. I commend their work, and I am encouraged by the overwhelming support this bill received today.”

The bill now moves to the Senate.

 

 

4-23-13  NEWS FROM RALEIGH by Senator Jerry Tillman

 

SB-594 – Require Drug Testing/Work First Benefits

SB-594 passed the Senate last night – Monday April, 22.  SB-594 will require drug screening for applicants for and recipients of work first program assistance.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tax dollars supporting the drug habits of welfare recipients.  SB-594 makes it abundantly clear where North Carolina stands on this issue. 

If you test positive you don’t receive the benefit, and the applicant pays for the drug test.  If the applicant tests negative, the State will pay for the test out of the welfare check.  You can bet your bottom dollar this will make the drug-dependent no longer a State dependent.  You will see…

Note:  The Democrats are calling SB-594 racist.  I’d prefer to call it common sense.  When liberals lose on important issues like SB-594, they resort to playing the race card.  I’m not buying it – and the people I represent aren’t buying it either.  We will see…

 

Investing in Our State’s Roads and Bridges  

One of our greatest responsibilities is building roads and bridges that connect our communities and fuel our economy. Our citizens deserve a transportation system that spends their tax dollars wisely, and our businesses demand the best infrastructure to move people and products and make their operations more efficient.

Moving toward a 21st century transportation system has been a top priority of the Senate over the past two years. We’ve made a lot of progress removing politics from the transportation selection process by using objective data to prioritize our state’s infrastructure needs.

That important work continues this session. Gov. McCrory plans a new strategy for funding transportation needs across our state. The Governor’s proposal will more efficiently allocate existing resources to needed projects and encourage greater planning and input from regional and local stakeholders. NCDOT estimates the proposed strategic mobility formula will fund at least 260 projects and create more than 240,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

I commend Gov. McCrory and his team for sharing our vision of emphasizing investment in North Carolina’s infrastructure, while addressing some of the system’s long standing inefficiencies and challenges. And we look forward to partnering with the executive branch and the House to implement reforms that ensure a long-term, positive impact on our state’s infrastructure, making North Carolina a more attractive place to do business.

 

Protecting the Most Vulnerable

Those depraved individuals who abuse our children should face severe punishment. To that end, the Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that strengthens the penalty for those criminals convicted of the most serious child abuse charges. Kilah’s Law, named for Kilah Davenport, a 4-year old girl whose step-father is accused of brutally beating her, increases the sentences for five child-abuse related felonies, and sets a new maximum penalty of 33 years for the worst cases. Having already passed the House, Kilah’s Law was sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.  

 

Finalizing a Plan to Reform Our State’s Outdated Tax Code

It’s no coincidence North Carolina has the highest taxes in the Southeast and one of the worst employment rates in the nation. Our old and outdated tax code is sending jobs to other states. To spur economic growth, we must reform our state’s archaic tax system to make it friendlier for investment and easier for businesses to create jobs.

After several months of meetings with constituents, business leaders, and economists, we are putting the final touches on a plan that will change our state’s tax structure, and look forward to introducing it to you in the coming weeks. 

I will keep you updated as the tax reform legislation moves forward.  I appreciate the many suggestions you have shared with me as it relates to tax reform.

 

Amnesty” for Illegals?

It’s been a while since I’ve touched on the subject of illegal immigration in my newsletter.  Let me give you some food for thought.  The latest idea making its way around Washington is to grant “amnesty” to the illegals already living in the United States.  The “condition” would be to do so without granting them taxpayer funded Federal benefits.  If you believe that, Willie Nelson is 10 foot tall. 

Just as soon as amnesty is granted, the push will be on to grant Federal benefits.  Don’t believe me?  The Heritage Foundation is one of the few organizations looking at the consequences of amnesty, and they point out that section 2524 in the “amnesty” bill which calls for the creation of yet another Federal commission to promote Federal benefits for the newly legal immigrants. 

With our nation already $17 Trillion dollars in debt, and with the cost of Social Security/Medicare entitlements going up every year due to the aging of our population, you tell me what will happen when 11 million illegals are granted Federal benefits.  Add the rising projections to the cost of Obamacare, and the continuing expansion of government under this administration to the mix, and the recipe for enormous negative economic impact is complete.  Is this a good idea?  I think you already know the answer to that one.

Are there easy answers to the illegal immigration problems in America?  No.  A mass deportation of 11 million people just isn’t going to happen.  But I know one thing for sure…adding 11 million more people overnight to an already bloated list of taxpayer-funded benefits is not good policy.  Are there no leaders in Washington with the sense to see that if you keep blowing up a balloon, eventually it will pop?  We will see…

 

 

 

Office of the Speaker

Rep. Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 4, 2013

HOUSE LEADERS INTRODUCE VOTER ID LEGISLATION

Raleigh – Legislative leaders in the North Carolina House of Representatives announced today the filing of a bill to implement a photo identification system for voting, highlighting a month-long process that included public hearings, stakeholder input, and expert testimony.  House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) was joined at a press conference today by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Tom Murry (R-Wake) to unveil the bill that has been a top priority for the Republican-led General Assembly since winning a majority in 2010.

 

We are here to announce that after a deliberate and transparent process, we will be filing a voter ID bill today that protects the integrity of the ballot box and respects the sanctity of the right to vote,” Tillis said.

 

The bill is a sweeping effort to improve North Carolina’s voting process by requiring citizens to show photo identification when voting, and would be fully implemented by 2016.  The measure utilizes the 2014 elections as a bridge to identify which voters may be without an accepted form of photo ID – and establishes a program to help citizens acquire a free photo identification card through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

We have arrived at a bill that we believe will stand up in a court of law, address legitimate concerns about voting access, and move North Carolina to a photo identification voting system,” Tillis said.

 

Beyond the photo identification requirement, the bill takes steps to ensure the integrity of provisional and absentee ballots.  It also directs the State Board of Elections to study the use of modern technology in voting, paving the way for further efficiency through digital efforts in the future.

 

The bill will be filed in the House today and referred to the House Elections Committee, where it will be discussed at a public hearing and a committee meeting next week.

 

 

From Representative Michele Presnell’s Office (4-2-13)

Week 9:

Protecting the Privacy of Concealed Carriers
On Tuesday, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed House Bill 17, protecting the privacy of concealed handgun permit holders. The bill, introduced by Representatives Justin Burr, Mike Hager, Mark Hollo and John Bell, removes concealed handgun permits from the list of documents covered by North Carolina’s public records law.

“With those records available to the public, criminals could easily target homes where no gun permit has been issued,” said Rep. Justin Burr (R-District 67), the bill’s primary sponsor.

The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support and had the endorsement of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. The measure ensures that members of the media will no longer be able to list the names of individuals who possess concealed carry permits, as has been done in the past.

House Bill 17 is yet another example of the importance the North Carolina House of Representatives places on the 2nd amendment and of our continued support of the rights of gun owners.

Rep. Michele Presnell
N.C. House District 118
Haywood | Madison | Yancey

 

 

Senator Jerry Tillman
Senate Majority Whip

Senate update

April 2, 2013

US Senate Passes Budget

Finally, after 4 years, the U.S. Senate has passed a budget. I see now why it has taken so long. It doesn’t balance now – nor does it project a balanced budget in our lifetime. It calls for a trillion dollar increase in taxes. The message here is loud and clear. We can’t stop our spending habit so we will take more from taxpayers. We were better off when they didn’t bother to pass a budget at all!

*Seventeen Democrats voted for a Keystone pipeline amendment. Obama doesn’t want it. I don’t believe we’ll see it until he’s out of office. We shall see….

The U.S. House will pass a budget that cuts spending and cuts taxes and will project a balanced budget in 10-12 years. I can see gridlock coming from a mile away. Wait and see…

Senate Democrats are so fearful of saying “No” to spending because it will cut off the hand that votes for them – the takers in our society. Never mind that they’re bankrupting America. If you can defend this kind of thinking, I can’t help you.

$17 Trillion Debt – No Problem

President Obama would have you believe that our $17 trillion debt (and growing) is manageable and not a major problem. If he really believes that, I have some bottom land in Snow Camp I want to sell him. He knows better. Many of the people who follow him don’t – and they don’t care. As long as the Obama government fuels their appetite with costly giveaways – they have no reason to care. What will they do when the well runs dry? Since it won’t run dry tomorrow or the next day, they are as happy as “pigs eating slop.”

Here’s the problem. When 50% or more are on the receiving side, there’s no turning back. The time is at hand for strong leadership to reverse course and provide only for the 10%-15% who are truly needy. There is no strong leadership with this President and his “spread the wealth” mentality. If you are not concerned with the $17 trillion debt America has or the daily $2.3 billion deficit spending occurring, you’re beyond my help. My 8 th grade grandson understands the problem. Why can’t the President and the Senate understand it? You tell me… We Will See…

Some say it’s a great Democrat strategy to take from producers and give to non-producers. It wins elections. Maybe so. Guess where this path leads…

Election Reform

Many of you who I hear from on a regular basis are anxious to see comprehensive election reform legislation. I am too. You will see it this session. The NAACP and Reverend Barber don’t like the reform bills I have filed. They have demonstrated against them and are threatening to bring lawsuits against them. I want elections free from the specter of fraud. Eighty percent of the voters in my district feel the same way. If I were to advocate the positions Rev. Barber and his followers take, I would be not be doing the job of representing my constituents. See you in court Reverend…

Remember, the only thing voter photo ID disenfranchises is voter fraud.

I can’t for the life of me see why ensuring voter integrity by requiring a photo ID would be opposed by anyone. It’s the one thing above all else in this world we should protect with every measure at our disposal. We’ll see…

Payday Lending – from “The Rhinoceros Times” by John Hammer March 28, 2013

The Democrats appear bent out of shape about a bill to legalize and heavily regulate payday lending in North Carolina sponsored by state Sen. Jerry Tillman of Randolph County. Certainly payday lending has been abused in the past, but it appears that Tillman’s bill has safeguards in it that should prevent most of that abuse, by limiting the amount that can be borrowed to $500.

As a small business owner who has made countless loans to employees who needed money to get to the next payday, I see the need. Not all businesses will loan employees money, and for good reason. We’ve gotten burned a few times, but generally we’ve gotten the money back, and if someone needs $50 or $100 to put gas in their car and some food on the table until the next payday it seems wrong not to make that loan. But what about those hardworking people who have jobs where the employer won’t give them an advance on their check? Where do they go to borrow a little money to get to the next paycheck?

Right now they have to depend on family, friends or some seedy character who will break their legs if they don’t pay. It seems people would be much better off with a well-regulated payday lending system than having no system because the old poorly regulated system was abused.

Tillman has some heavyweight support for his bill, so it appears it will go through. It seems like anything that loosens up some money so people can spend it would be good for the economy right now.

Governor’s Budget Proposal

Gov. McCrory’s refreshing new leadership and hard work has produced a balanced budget proposal that exercises fiscal discipline and keeps state government spending within its means. His emphasis on paying off our debts and repairing our critical infrastructure reflects a vision and commitment to the long-term fiscal health of our state. We look forward to reviewing the governor’s plan in greater detail, and feel confident we will share common ground on many important priorities.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin the process of reviewing the governor’s proposal this week.

 

 

From the Office of the Governor of the Great State of North Carolina:

 Monday, March 11, 2013

 

Governor McCrory Makes Largest Job Announcement in Our State’s Recent History

 

Governor Pat McCrory’s recent announcement that MetLife, Inc. plans to create over 2,600 jobs in Charlotte and Cary is the largest jobs announcement in recent North Carolina history. The company also expects to invest $125.5 million into its new Mecklenburg and Wake County campuses.

 

“We’re proud that a strong corporate partner like MetLife has decided to invest in North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “These jobs will complement our financial services sector in Charlotte and our high-tech hub in Wake County, two distinct sectors we want to expand.”
Governor McCrory Announces Agreement Enabling Development of Region’s Largest Eco-Industrial Park

 

Monday, Governor Pat McCrory and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla announced the signing of a brownfields agreement for ReVenture West. The agreement authorizes the development of the region’s largest eco-industrial park on a former 667-acre Superfund site in Charlotte.

“This project is an extraordinary example of how public and private sectors can partner to benefit the economy and the environment,” said Governor McCrory. “This brownfields project will create jobs and allow us to transform a once highly contaminated site into a new and thriving energy-related complex.”

Governor McCrory Hosts Metro Mayors Coalition Meeting and Press Conference
On March 5, Governor Pat McCrory hosted leaders of the Metro Mayors Coalition at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh. The mayors joined the governor and many of his cabinet secretaries to discuss issues like transportation, land use and tax policies among other topics.

 

Governor McCrory Issues Directive to State Agencies

 

On Friday, March 8, Governor Pat McCrory took a stand against previous state government budget practices as the Medicaid liability continues to impact the entire budget.

“It is time to solve this mess, not kick the can down the road and manipulate the budget as was done in the past. It stops now,” said Governor McCrory.

Governor McCrory Participated in Hurricane Training for Severe Weather Awareness Week

 

During a multi-agency hurricane training exercise, Governor Pat McCrory emphasized the importance of emergency management and preparedness. Take a moment to review or create an emergency plan at your school, home or office.

 

Governor McCrory Makes Jobs Announcement in Macon County

 

Governor Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced that Franklin Tubular Products Inc. will locate its operations in NC. The company plans to create 121 jobs and invest $4 million over the next three years in Franklin.

Join Governor McCrory to honor an American Tradition: Girl Scout Week

Office of the Governor 20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh , North Carolina 27699-0301

 

 

Michele Presnell—Week 5: Education Week in the NC House

This week was “Education Week” at the North Carolina House of Representatives.  We were honored to host educators from around the state for several question-and-answer sessions with Speaker Thom Tillis and other House leaders on the future of education in North Carolina.  We met with superintendents on Tuesday, Principals of the Year on Wednesday, and Teachers of the Year on Thursday.  Many of these educators also took advantage of the opportunity to meet individually with their House members.  These meetings have been incredibly productive.  One of the visiting superintendents even remarked that this was the first time in more than 40 years that a group of superintendents had been invited to the General Assembly for such a discussion!

This week was all about listening to our educators’ concerns and ideas as we continue our work toward improving outcomes in K-12 education and prepare our state’s workforce for a new economy.  We discussed a wide range of topics, such as providing more local control, increasing flexibility for school systems, potential merit pay for teachers, and encouraging teachers and administrators to save money by allowing them to keep these savings.

We have already taken several positive steps on education reform this session, including passing legislation providing additional vocational education opportunities and expanding digital learning in our state.  As we continue work on education modernization this session, we will continue our ongoing dialogue with educators throughout the state.

Past Time to Fix Straight Ticket Voting

Senator Thom Goolsby

Straight ticket voting is the poster child for voter laziness and apathy. It causes political parties to push the party label and buzzwords, instead of individual candidates and their strengths. For far too long, North Carolina has been a state where unknown candidates, with or without any talent, have attempted to ride the coattails of their party to success.

Follow Thom on Twitter @thomgoolsby. Click for an audio version of this column.

State Senator Buck Newton recently introduced a bill to eliminate straight party voting in North Carolina. The senator believes that voters should cast their ballots for the best candidates, not a party. In an interview with his hometown newspaper, The Wilson Times, Newton noted that over the last 10+ years citizens have shown more and more independence regarding the candidates for whom they will vote. He stated, “I think we ought to encourage people to look closely at the qualifications of each candidate and not the party label they have beside them.”

Democrats have strenuously objected to this legislation. In the last election, 56 percent of straight ticket votes in North Carolina were cast in favor of Democratic candidates. Libertarians received one percent of the straight ticket vote and Republicans, 43 percent.

Democrat opposition to the bill is simple to understand — straight ticket voting works for them. However, their arguments for keeping straight ticket voting are lame. They attempt to argue that Republicans are trying to diminish Democrat turnout and Democrat votes. They even complain that voters will find it more difficult to select candidates.

The Democrats dance around the fact that party labels are not removed from the ballot. In other words, any voter can continue to vote by party, it will just take a little more time to do so.  And there’s the rub — maybe, just maybe, the voter might consider other candidates beyond the “D.”

When interviewed by the Wilson newspaper, NC Democrat Party spokesman Clay Pittman took the cake in trying to defend straight ticket voting:  “A lot of voters don’t have time to do research into the down-ballot candidates, so I think this will probably create a lot more confusion.” When deciphered, what he’s really saying is:  “The Democratic Party makes out well when people don’t pay attention and the confusion benefits us.”

Senator Newton’s bill rightfully addresses a concern that should be on the mind of everyone who appreciates the democratic (small “d”) voting process. Our Founding Fathers counted on an engaged and educated citizenry who were serious and deliberative in their approach to the ballot box.

It is in the interest of no one, save pure political hacks, to reward any party with success at the polls through ignorance and apathy. It should be the hope of everyone that with the death of straight party voting, citizens and parties will be encouraged to spend more time and energy on candidates and issues, rather than slogans and the witless casting of ballots.

Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees. He is also a sponsor of this legislation.

 

A New Low For Liberals

Friend,

It comes as no surprise to us, but this is too important not to share.  Yesterday, a news story broke that mentions a “secret” memo outlining how a network of liberal non-profits organizations plan to “cripple” Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Speaker Thom Tillis.

The memo goes on to say the following that they plan to “eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation out of Winston-Salem funds a majority of this network of liberal non-profits.  If the name Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation sounds familiar to you, then you must remember an email we sent out last week highlighting their affiliation with a shady liberal non-profit organization called Democracy NC.

This memo outlines their strategy to launch personal attacks, intentionally mislead the public and the media in order to push their ultra-liberal agenda; the same agenda that the hard working citizens of North Carolina voted against in 2010 and 2012.

What is truly disappointing that ultra-liberal members of the Democratic Caucus of the North Carolina House of Representatives, especially their leader Rep. Larry Hall, have said publicly that they were interested in working together to help get North Carolina back on the right track?

Ironically, news reports have raised serious questions regarding the use of identical language in the memo and what was spoken by Rep. Larry Hall in the Democratic response to the State of the State Address.

It is clear that the Democrats had no intentions of working with us to put North Carolina back on the path to prosperity; instead, they were seeking to score cheap political points to regain power at the expense of hard working North Carolinians.

We desperately need your help today.  We only know about this memo because it was leaked.  Please contribute $13, $26, $36, or $48 to help fight back and get our message out in 2013.

Thank you for your continued support and helping us continue the work of putting North Carolina back on the right track.

Thanks,

North Carolina Republican House Caucus

 

Phil Berger: What’s missing in N&O Medicaid stories and editorials

02/13/2013

http://blogs.newsobserver.com/opinion/phil-berger-whats-missing-in-no-medicaid-stories-and-editorials#wgt=rss#storylink=cpy

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger explains in a letter to the editor, printed on tomorrow’s editorial page and online now, why Republicans are rejecting the Medicaid expansion:

The online headline of your Feb. 6 editorial “State Senate goes against federal health-care law” was accurate. Unfortunately, it missed the mark on why the Senate opted out of several expensive provisions of Obamacare.

Obamacare’s changes to Medicaid will cost North Carolinians close to a billion dollars through 2019. And that’s with “free” federal money covering a lion’s share of the costs. When the federal government realizes it is going broke and pulls its share of funding, North Carolina taxpayers will be saddled with the entire colossal bill.

The claim that Medicaid expansion extends government insurance coverage to 500,000 uninsured citizens across the state is not true, according to a study conducted by Harvard, Boston University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Their researchers found that only 14 percent of new Medicaid recipients would come from the ranks of the uninsured, while as many as 80 percent are currently covered by private insurance. That’s as many as 400,000 people leaving private insurance and going to the government plan.

These projections about the abandonment of private insurance are scary – but they are consistent with Medicaid expansions of the past. Take the federally mandated State Children’s Health Insurance Program as an example of the threat of government subsidized health coverage to private insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that up to 50 percent of SCHIP enrollees came from the rolls of the once privately insured.

North Carolina’s hospitals say they make money on privately insured patients but lose money on Medicaid patients. According to the Harvard study, with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion moving a significant number of citizens with private insurance onto the government-run program, a serious financial threat is added to our already troubled health care system.

Finally, a damning audit of North Carolina’s current Medicaid program released in January found systemic failures including cost overruns of $1.4 billion, a failure to adhere to budgets and, most troubling, an inability or unwillingness to follow the law. The report confirmed what many already suspected – North Carolina’s Medicaid program can’t manage the 1.6 million people it is already supposed to serve. Adding 500,000 people to this system is foolhardy.

Senate Republicans are dedicated to improving health care outcomes and access in North Carolina. But counting on a federal government that is $16 trillion in debt to pay for the expansion of a Medicaid system that doesn’t work at the expense of the private insurance market is not the way to do it.

Phil Berger
Senate President Pro Tempore, Eden

House Speaker Tillis: No direct state money for Carolina Panthers

But House speaker would consider letting Charlotte raise taxes for renovations

RALEIGH N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis said Tuesday he cannot support using state tax dollars to renovate Bank of America Stadium, but he left open supporting a local tax hike to help the Carolina Panthers.

Team owner Jerry Richardson met Monday with Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory as he pursues money for $250 million in planned improvements to the 17-year-old stadium. The Panthers have asked the city of Charlotte for $125 million. They hope to split the rest with the state.

I’ve been clear with the Panthers organization that it is not appropriate to have state taxpayer dollars go directly into the stadium, so that is more or less a level set on our part,” Tillis told reporters Tuesday morning.

But Tillis said he would consider the most important part of the team’s request – the city of Charlotte’s contribution.

The Charlotte City Council gave a tentative endorsement in closed session two weeks ago to helping the Panthers. Council members voted 7-2 to see if the General Assembly would approve increasing the local prepared food and beverage tax from 1 percent to 2 percent.

That would raise about $20 million a year, more than enough to cover the city’s share of the annual debt.

We would not be appropriating money to go directly into the stadium up-fit,” said Tillis, a Cornelius Republican. “But I’ve also spoken with the various elected officials at the local level to consider options that they were talking about in terms of local revenue. We will continue those discussions.”

City of Charlotte officials have declined to discuss the Panthers’ request, saying it’s an economic development issue and should be discussed only in closed session. But some city officials, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the negotiations, said they understood Monday’s meeting to be positive in terms of moving the team’s request forward.

Concerned about future

The Charlotte City Council is concerned about the team’s long-term future in Charlotte. Richardson, 76, has said he won’t move the team from Charlotte.

But Richardson’s will calls for the team to be sold within two years of his death, according to a source close to the Panthers.

The city’s fear is that a new owner could move the team to Los Angeles, which is seeking an NFL franchise. A number of NFL cities have been concerned about their team moving to California, including Minneapolis, Atlanta and Buffalo.

Tillis said during his news conference that he believes a move “is a very real possibility for the Panthers.”

I’m having a discussion with them. It would be like the discussions I’ve had with several employers in Raleigh and Wilmington and in the mountains,” Tillis said, “to see what it is that is driving them to the possibility of moving somewhere else and whether this state or local government should do anything to really encourage them to keep their business in North Carolina.”

Tillis said he’ll treat the team like any other major employer. He said the Panthers are responsible for 4,400 direct jobs and an estimated 1,500 indirect jobs.

While Tillis said he would not support a legislative effort to use state money to renovate the stadium, the North Carolina Department of Commerce does offer financial assistance to companies considering moving to the state, as well as for companies to stay.

For instance, when Chiquita Brands International agreed to move to Charlotte from Ohio, local and state governments provided an incentive package worth $22 million. The state incentives were based on Chiquita receiving a refund for part of its tax withholdings on state income tax filings.

Those incentives, known as Job Development and Investment Grants, are approved by a five-member Economic Investment Committee – not the General Assembly. The state also has the One N.C. Fund, which is awarded by the governor’s office and the Department of Commerce.

The Panthers could ask the Department of Commerce for financial help.

We’re always looking for opportunities to recruit companies,” state Department of Commerce spokesman Josh Ellis said. “But we won’t discuss whether we are working with a company.”

Local lawmakers concerned

Crystal Feldman, a spokeswoman for McCrory, said in an email the governor believes “local leaders should make decisions on local issues – the same philosophy he employed as mayor of Charlotte.”

It’s unclear whether Mecklenburg-based lawmakers support an increase in the so-called meals tax. The N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association is against the proposed increase.

Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Charlotte Democrat, said state money for the Panthers could be tough politically.

I just don’t see this selling in Raleigh,” she said. “I’m not interested in giving away state money for a corporate issue such as this. … I just don’t see a real compelling case here at this time.”

Asked if it meant the possibility of losing the team, she said, “You know everybody makes the same threat all the time.”

She said she doesn’t support allowing the city to raise the prepared food tax.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican, said she agrees with Tillis.

We can’t put money directly into the building, state money, without some kind of ownership interest,” she said.

Samuelson, however, said she’s open to other ways of helping the Panthers, if it helps keep the team in Charlotte.

I’d like to see the Panthers stay if we can make sure what we do binds them in some way to the state,” she said.

As part of its negotiations with the team, the City Council is considering a lease agreement that keeps the team in Charlotte for a decade or so.

Senate Republicans reject Obamacare expansions

Decline to pursue state-based health exchange, Medicaid expansion

Jan 30, 2013

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina Senate leaders introduced legislation Wednesday to opt out of participation in several costly provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Senators Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) filed Senate Bill 2 to exempt North Carolina from establishing a state-based health insurance exchange or a state-federal partnership exchange.

The bill also directs the N.C. Department of Insurance to return unspent taxpayer funds awarded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month to create a state-federal partnership exchange.

Obamacare was forced on us against our will by the federal government, and they should shoulder the burden of implementing it,” said Sen. Apodaca. “Any claim that North Carolina would ‘control’ this program is nothing more than an illusion.”

Senate Bill 2 also rules out expansion of the North Carolina Medicaid program. In its 2012 decision on Obamacare, the U.S. Supreme Court exempted states from the federal mandate to expand Medicaid eligibility. Based on the court’s ruling, North Carolina has the authority to opt out of expansion.

Costs for North Carolina’s existing Medicaid program have increased significantly in recent years. In 2012, the General Assembly was forced to fill a surprise Medicaid shortfall that totaled more than $500 million. Recent figures from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that an expansion of the program would add hundreds of millions of dollarsin additional state costs to North Carolina’s Medicaid budget through 2019.

Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring every North Carolinian receives the highest quality health care and outcomes,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Saddling our citizens with the enormous costs of a new federal bureaucracy and entitlements is simply not the way to achieve this goal.”

Background:

Under Obamacare, each state must have in place a health exchange where individuals and small businesses, which are now mandated to have insurance, can purchase health care coverage. There are three options: a state-run exchange, a state-federal partnership exchange and a federally-run exchange. Senate leaders have spent months evaluating the implications of each type of exchange.

In November 2012, former Gov. Beverly Perdue prematurely declared her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange – three months before the deadline for the state to make this declaration – while at the same time applying for $73.9 million dollars in federal grant funding to set up the new government program.

Beverly Perdue: The Ultimate Hypocrite

Justice Appointment Will Be Last Act of Rudderless Governor

 Sen. Thom Goolsby 

Perdue Poised to Violate Her Order

If Governor Perdue stays on her current course, you will find her picture beside the word “hypocrite” in any dictionary. Currently, she is poised to violate her own Executive Order Number 86 that deals with judicial appointments.

The lame-duck and soon to be ex-governor claimed in her executive order that “a fair, impartial, independent, highly qualified, and diverse judiciary is essential to ensuring justice….” This statement is true and well-reasoned. She went on to write, “It is my belief that the state of North Carolina can best achieve this goal by establishing a judicial screening commission….” These words are now coming back to haunt this partisan, career politician.

Justice Appointment Quandary

A recent announcement by Justice Patricia A. Timmons-Goodson that she will retire from the North Carolina Supreme Court on December 17 has placed the Perdue Administration into its last quandary.  If she follows her own executive order, the Judicial Nominating Commission that she created has already told her that it will have no nominees ready for appointment before she leaves office.

This means that her successor, Republican Governor-Elect Pat McCrory, will have the opportunity to appoint a replacement for Timmons-Goodson, the outgoing liberal Democrat Supreme Court justice. McCrory is not bound by Perdue’s executive order and should not be expected to abide by it. If this scenario takes place, the most likely result would be the appointment of a conservative to the high court.  However, Perdue could violate her own order and make the appointment herself. If you are a gambler, don’t put two cents on the side that Perdue will obey Executive Order Number 86 and not appoint a left-leaning Democrat to the Supreme Court.

Important History Lesson

A short history lesson is necessary to understand how we arrived at this point. Article IV, Section 16 of the NC Constitution requires that judges and justices “shall be elected by the qualified voters.” These contests were partisan until a curious thing started occurring in the 1990s — Republicans began winning judicial races. Once Democrats saw that voters favored conservatives on their courts, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly quickly made the races “nonpartisan.” This way, voters wouldn’t know the party affiliation of judicial candidates and Democrats could continue to get elected. With their status quo maintained for the most part, Democrats let things be.

Move forward to 2010, when Republicans unexpectedly won both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in well over a century. All of a sudden, the nonpartisan election of judicial officials was not enough. The public was apparently deemed too unworthy or ignorant to elect judges and justices. Now, Democrats demanded that special commissions be instituted to nominate judicial officials. Republicans, far from jumping on the Democrat bandwagon, filed legislation and actually began to call for going back to the original way of electing judges by political party. These actions prompted Perdue to establish her soon-to-be infamous Executive Order Number 86.

Choice Will Show Hypocrisy

In the end, Perdue can do what she desires and violate her own executive order.  She is the Governor until January 5. However, there will be consequences to her actions. By appointing a justice without going through the process she established, she will highlight the final and worst act of hypocrisy on the part of Democrats when it comes to the selection of judicial officials.

Power to the People

Politics is never pretty. Everyone wants good judges and justices, free from partisanship, but taking the vote from the people, setting up selection commissions and removing labels is not the answer.  The drafters of our Constitution deserve more credit than the Democrats are giving them.  As our state’s founding document, revised in 1971, acknowledges, “All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.”

If we believe this lofty statement, what’s so bad about continuing to give the people the right to choose their officials in the judicial branch of government? To quote Winston Churchill, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.”

Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor.  He is senate co-chair of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety.

GOP Landslide:  North Carolina Finally Gets It

Sen. Thom Goolsby

It took North Carolinians 142 years, but they finally dispensed with their Democrat political masters in this past election.  Walter Dalton, the pandering Democratic gubernatorial candidate who promised every liberal group in the state anything they wanted, was soundly rejected.  Republicans picked up even more House and Senate seats in the General Assembly.  The GOP won every possible US Congressional seat (save Mike McIntyre’s which is still up in the air) and even Barack Hussein Obama lost the Tar Heel State in his reelection bid.

Just three short years ago, Democrats had North Carolina totally locked up.  They virtually owned the General Assembly and the now much-maligned Beverly Perdue reigned as Queen Bee in the Governor’s Mansion.  How things have changed!

What really happened? It’s simple — North Carolinians finally realized that they could not be taxed and regulated into prosperity.  Our state had been harder hit than most by the recession and voters took out their frustrations at the polls in the 2010 elections, installing Republican majorities in both the State House and Senate for the first time since the nineteenth century.

Republicans promised to cut state spending, balance the budget and reduce taxes.  A very strange thing happened that North Carolinians had rarely seen before.  Unlike the Democrats, who were long on promises and short on delivery, Republicans actually kept their word.

Bill after bill was passed reducing regulations, rightsizing government and cutting taxes.  The unpopular Democratic governor vetoed bill after bill. However, for the good of the people, Republicans, working with a few principled Democrats, overrode many of her vetoes.  There was finally a light at the end of the tunnel and the public sensed it.  Despite an unfriendly, critical, out-of-touch press and demagoging liberal Democrats, the people saw the possibility of a better future for the state.

Then the 2012 election cycle came. Democrats and their cronies on the Left gave it their all.  They cried that Republicans had destroyed education, cut out vital government services and were destroying the environment.  Further, they claimed “crazy” tea party activists were attempting to disenfranchise thousands of citizens with their push for a voter ID law.  The more mud the Democrats threw, the less it stuck.  The reason was simple: none of it was true and the people knew it in their collective gut.

Rather than cut education, Republicans had increased state spending on K-12 by 2.8% and North Carolina’s test scores and graduation rates reached all-time highs at the end of 2011.  Republicans provided more choice in education by removing the cap on charter schools.  Rather than cutting vital government services, Republicans were seen as responsible stewards who were reducing government waste and excessive regulations.  Citizens across the state, who for years have suffered from high energy costs, embraced GOP calls for harvesting natural gas and polls showed that 80+ percent of the population supported voter ID laws.

The result was another spanking for Democrats.  Now North Carolina is a solid RED state— ‘as red as a boiled lobster’ to quote a coastal friend.  Democrats were hammered everywhere they faced any real opposition.  It was the ideas that Republicans put forward that won the day — common sense over false promises, the truth over lies.

Now it is incumbent upon Republicans to deliver for the people of North Carolina.  Unless Obama totally wrecks the national economy, there will be no excuses for not doing so.  The electorate finally demonstrated its impatience with the shortcomings of the Democrats and will be far less patient and kind to the Republicans if they fall short of their promises.

The people’s demands are simple.  They want leaner, more efficient government that costs less and is business friendly.  They want an education system that works, offers choice, and is accountable to parents and students.  They want to see our state’s abundant natural resources used wisely, but not wasted or harmed.  Republicans have gotten what they asked for, but woe to them if they do not deliver.

 

A Message from NC House Majority Leader “Skip” Stam

Friends all across North Carolina,

A gain of 9 seats for an historic 77 out of 120 seats in the North Carolina House. I am expecting great things from the new House of Representatives, we will work closely with Gov. Pat McCrory and our friends in the Senate.

In the election of 1868 the people of North Carolina elected a Republican Governor and a Republican General Assembly. That lasted until 1870. Not since then has an incoming Republican Governor been greeted by a Republican Legislative Majority.

We are eager to work for conservative, limited government, reasonable regulation, and justice for all.

The candidates who prevailed had something to do with their own election. But they will all admit that it would never have happened without the thousands of Republican activists who do the hard work of democracy – knocking on doors, calling their neighbors, contributing money, putting up yard signs and writing letters to the editors.

The results in the rest of the country were not good. But here in North Carolina the results were outstanding in every region of the state. From Manteo to Murphy we had solid Republican organizations that worked hard and got results.

We still need your help. We have our ideas for legislation. But we need yours as well. We need ideas for saving money, cutting back the regulatory stranglehold of government, reforming our education system and clearing out any other impediment to full employment and justice for all.

Please let your Senator and Representative know what you think. If you have no Republican Representative or Senator to listen to you send your ideas to me. I will forward them to an appropriate person who can check them out.

Thank you once again for all of your hard work.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Paul “Skip” Stam

 

 

A Message from NC Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes:

Because of your efforts North Carolina went Republican Red in the 2012 election. Mitt Romney won our 15 electoral votes, Governor Pat McCrory won in a landslide, we elected at least 3 new congressional leaders, and we expanded our majorities in the State House and State Senate, and elected Republicans on the local level throughout the state!

You are the reason that we were so successful. You volunteered your time, money, and energy. The North Carolina Republican Party made more than million voter contacts; that’s more than six times the amount of phone calls and more than 70 times the amount of door knocks than we made in 2008. We refused to be out-hustled, and we refused to lose.

In North Carolina, we set an example for the rest of the country. Our party was unified, our candidates were well prepared for their races, and we proved that we have the best volunteers in the nation!

Our leaders will be working non-stop to turn our economy around. They will be promoting business friendly policies that will allow employers to starting hiring new workers. We will ensure that our educational system is strong, so that our children and grandchildren will be well-equipped to achieve jobs of their choice. The Carolina Comeback has begun, and as I said before, it’s because you made it happen.

But now is not the time to stop. We need to keep building the party. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, and anyone who you come in contact with. Tell them why you are proud to be a Republican. Tell them how they can get involved in the party. If they need more information, give them our phone number or website and we’ll help get them involved. It’s been an honor to be your Chairman over the past 2 years, and I look forward to continue seeing the Republican Party reach new heights as we go forward together.

Sincerely,

Robin Hayes

Chairman, NC Republican Party

 

Carolina Journal News Reports

Republicans Win Governor’s Race, Gain Seats in General Assembly

Romney ekes out narrow win in state; Newby holds spot on Supreme Court

By CJ Staff

Nov. 7th, 2012

RALEIGH — Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory became North Carolina’s third Republican governor since Reconstruction and the first since the 19th century to work with a General Assembly controlled by his own party, as the GOP built on its electoral momentum from 2010.

Voters also awarded former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the state’s 15 electoral votes, reversing course from 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama won the state by 14,000 votes. At press time, Romney led by roughly 100,000 votes. Even so, Obama won enough electoral votes nationally to secure a second term as president.

McCrory defeated Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, 55 percent to 43 percent, with Libertarian Barbara Howe collecting slightly more than 2 percent of the vote. McCrory joins Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin as the only Republicans to win the governor’s office since Reconstruction.

At press time, Republican Dan Forest held an 11,000-vote lead over Democrat Linda Coleman for lieutenant governor, winning 50.13 percent of the vote. By state law, a recount is automatic if the margin of victory is less than one percentage point.

Incumbents fared well in other Council of State races. Democrats Elaine Marshall, Wayne Goodwin, Janet Cowell, Beth Wood, and June Atkinson won new terms as secretary of state, insurance commissioner, treasurer, auditor, and superintendent of public instruction, respectively.

Meantime, Republican Cherie Berry was re-elected secretary of labor and her GOP colleague Steve Troxler won another term as agriculture commissioner.

Democrat Roy Cooper was unopposed for attorney general.

Judicial races

Conservatives will maintain a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court, as incumbent Justice Paul Newby turned back a challenge from state Appeals Court Judge Jimmy Ervin 52-48. The Supreme Court almost certainly will rule on the redistricting plan put into effect by the 2011-12 session of the General Assembly, so with a 4-3 majority, the district lines are likely to stand.

Incumbent Appeals Court Judge Cressie Thigpen lost to Chris Dillon, 53-47. The other incumbent appellate judges up for re-election, Linda McGee and Wanda Bryant, retained their seats.

Congress

The GOP made major gains in the state’s congressional delegation, picking up at least three seats. While Democrats held a 7-6 majority before the election, North Carolina will send at least nine and perhaps 10 Republicans to the 113th Congress.

Richard Hudson defeated incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell in the 8th District. In two open-seat races, Republican Mark Meadows won in the 11th District and George Holding prevailed in the 13th District.

One congressional race remains undecided, as 7th District Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat, held a 500-vote lead over Republican state Sen. David Rouzer. More than 334,000 ballots were cast, leaving McIntyre’s margin small enough to trigger a recount.

General Assembly

Republicans picked up at least one seat in the state Senate, expanding their lead to 32-18, pending a recount. In District 1, incumbent Democrat Stan White holds a lead of less than 500 votes of more than 85,000 cast over Republican Bill Cook. Republican Chad Barefoot of Wake County picked up the District 18 seat held by Democrat Doug Berger.

In the state House, the GOP appears to have netted nine seats, giving Republicans a 77-43 advantage. Incumbent Republican G.L. Pridgen lost his bid for re-election to Ken Waddell in District 46, but incumbent Democrats Marian McLawhorn (District 9), Martha Alexander (District 88), and Ray Rapp (District 118) were defeated.

 

 

Historic Graduation Rates

Remember when Democrats used your children and their education as political pawns and resorted to empty political rhetoric in their desperate attempts to raise your taxes?

Do you remember that Gov. Perdue said our budget “fails the test” on moving North Carolina forward?  Do you remember that for the last two years, Gov. Perdue has tried (unsuccessfully) to convince the state that the only way to produce better education outcomes is to raise your taxes?

Do you remember that State Superintendent June Atkinson said the bipartisan budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly would “jeopardize more than 25 years of progress in our state” and that our budget must be stronger “if we are going to increase our graduation rate from its current all-time high…?”

Figures released today by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction highlight the empty political rhetoric and disprove the doom and gloom from liberal Democrats like Gov. Bev Perdue and her allies at DPI.

For the first time in our state’s history, 80.2% of North Carolina public high school students will graduate on time.

These numbers show that improving our education system is not simply a matter of dollars and cents.  Our graduation rates are at an all-time high thanks to the hard work of teachers and students, and the responsibility of principals and superintendents.  They are to be commended.

We all remember the extreme political rhetoric used by Governor Perdue and far-left Democrats to distort their attempt to raise taxes on hard working North Carolinians.  Today’s DPI numbers show that throwing more money at our education system isn’t a solution.  Republicans in the General Assembly hired 2,000 more state-funded teachers and provided a pay raise to teachers that had been promised for four years by Democrats.  But we also stressed the need for efficiency in education.  We provided more flexibility for teachers, principals and superintendents.  We removed the cap on charter schools to provide parents and students with more diverse educational options.  We took the first steps toward much-needed education reforms.
Education will likely always be used as a political football, especially by those who think that more government spending and higher taxes is the answer to everything.  Today’s graduation rate numbers prove that far-left Democrats are wrong on education.  Our approach to education is working.  With your support, we will continue to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars while working to improve education outcomes.

 

A Message from the President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, Senator Phil Berger:

One day the animals of the field gathered to determine which among them deserved the most credit for producing the greatest number of offspring. They rushed to the lioness to ask her to settle the dispute. “And you,” they said. “How many sons did you have at birth?” The lioness laughed and said, “I have only one; but that one is a lion.”

As Aesop’s fable shows, the animals were asking the wrong question. Value should not be looked at in terms of how many or how much, but by the quality of the outcome created. Sadly, over the course of the century that North Carolina’s state government was controlled by Democrats, the legislature also began asking the wrong questions.

How much are we spending? How much more money can we put into education? How high can we raise taxes? How many regulations can we pass? How many more programs can we create?

And in the course of all that asking, the most important question was forgotten – are North Carolinians getting the best outcome possible for the amount of money the government spends and the taxes it collects? When Republicans assumed leadership in January 2011, we found the answer to that question was a resounding no!

The legislature inherited a record $2.5 billion budget deficit, the highest taxes in the Southeastern United States and burdensome regulations on businesses, yet what we had to show for it was sky high unemployment, sagging economic indicators, and a broken public education system.

North Carolinians recognized something wasn’t working. Previous General Assemblies’ policy of “more” and “higher” seldom led to “better” or “effective.” In 2010, voters opted for a different course – one that cuts responsibly, spends wisely, and creates a climate conducive to private sector growth.

And that’s what they got.

During the two-year session that recently concluded we balanced a bipartisan budget that reduced government spending by more than $1 billion, returned nearly $1 billion to the pockets of North Carolinians by eliminating the “temporary” sales tax hike that Governor Perdue and legislative Democrats implemented and enacted a $50,000 income tax exemption for job creating businesses.

Changing the culture in Raleigh wasn’t just about reining in excessive spending; it was about making sure that every dollar we spent was spent wisely.

That’s why the legislature complemented the restoration of hundreds of millions of state dollars to public education with real reform. The improvements made will strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers, and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their education.

But educating the workforce of tomorrow is insufficient if there are no jobs available for our graduates. To spur economic growth, we passed a series of bold reforms to draw private investment and jobs to our state.

In addition to the small business tax cut, the General Assembly made sweeping changes to the state’s onerous regulatory environment. In just the last decade, more than 15,000 new or amended regulations have hit the books, causing uncertainty for our job creators and representing a huge cost for our businesses. The legislature cleared out the regulatory thicket, eliminating rules that no longer made sense and simplifying those that were overly burdensome.

We also took steps to foster the creation of a vibrant new energy jobs sector capable of heating and cooling our homes, fueling our vehicles, and powering our state’s job creation engine for years to come. Tapping in to North Carolina’s natural shale gas resources is a potential game-changer that can put more money into workers pockets while generating more revenue for our state.

For all the positive reforms we achieved during the two-year session (and this is but a small snapshot), there are some who seek to drag us back to the past. They denounce the balanced budget for failing to raise taxes. They rail against efforts to improve student and teacher performance, and instead simply demand more money. And they fuss and fulminate over the elimination of job-destroying regulations.

Like Aesop’s animals of the field, they continue to look on in wonderment, asking why not more taxes?  More spending?  Or more regulation?  And in doing so, they altogether fail to see the economic lion Republicans are creating. As the legislature pursues its new philosophy of quality, not quantity, North Carolinians can look forward to our state once again learning how to roar.

Senator Phil Berger
President Pro Tempore
2008 Legislative Building
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
Phone: 919.733.5708
Fax: 919.754.3246

philbe@ncleg.net

North Carolina: Fate of a Nation

North Carolina is one of the few states standing between President Obama and another four years in the White House.  We must ask ourselves: can we afford another four years of President Obama in the White House?  President Obama has added trillions to our country’s deficit, he has imposed job killing legislation such as Obamacare and failed to live up to the promises he made on the campaign trail in 2008.

Check out the latest video from the North Carolina Republican Party that highlights the failures of President Obama’s agenda in North Carolina.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWOArOv_Pz4

We, the North Carolina Republican House Caucus, wanted to highlight this video for a few reasons.

  • President Obama and his liberal allies’ efforts and money will have a direct impact on many of our districts.
  • The NEA and SEIU, the nation’s largest teachers’ and state employees’ unions, have reserved over $1 MILLION dollars to funnel into a shadow organization named Real Facts NC to influence State House races.
  • North Carolina Democrats, if able to recapture the majority, have proposed raising taxes by 15% and repealing common sense legislation such as regulatory reform, tort reform, and education reform.

We must be able to respond to the liberal outside money meant to influence our elections.  We cannot not allow Washington DC money to buy our elections.  We cannot let the unions control the fate of North Carolina.  We must stand strong

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gavel Falls on Historic House Session

Raleigh The North Carolina House of Representatives adjourned on Tuesday, ending a two-year session that saw Republicans in a majority for only the second time in more than a century.  After inheriting a multi-billion dollar budget deficit and a job-starved economy, House Republicans took positive steps to balance the state budget, reduce taxes and regulations, and make North Carolina more business-friendly.

“Today, we concluded a historic session that saw our House majority work across the aisle to accomplish what many thought impossible,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg).  “We overrode eleven gubernatorial vetoes, worked to make our state more conducive for job creation, and took bold action toward long-term solutions for North Carolina’s critical problems.”

Republicans in the House highlight two bipartisan votes on the state budget as the crowning achievement of their first term in the majority.  Despite vetoes from Gov. Perdue in both years, the House budget garnered enough bipartisan support to override the veto in 2011 and 2012.  “We reversed a decades-long trend of increasing spending and raising taxes,” Tillis said.  “With Democrat support, we passed a responsible two-year budget that cut taxes and reduced spending.  We are already seeing positive effects from that action.”

In addition to the budget, the House passed several landmark reforms on issues that had gone without action for years:  regulation, worker’s compensation, medical malpractice, and annexation.  The House also helped provide solvency to the State Health Plan and took steps to address severe problems in Medicaid.  Republicans oversaw an efficient and effective redistricting process, drawing fair and legal districts that have been pre-cleared by the Department of Justice.

While balancing budgets, cutting taxes, and reducing regulation, House Republicans took specific steps toward job creation.  Just this week, an eleventh veto override measure passed the House to establish the framework for hydraulic fracturing, which could bring thousands of new jobs to the state.  Millions of dollars were appropriated for job training and re-training through the community college system.

“This session was successful because we worked across the aisle, we listened to our constituents, and we kept our promises to the voters,” Tillis said.  “We’ll continue to do so in the months to come, and I look forward to reconvening the House in January to build on the progress we have made during our first two years.”

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 2, 2012

Tillis Statement on House Override of Perdue Veto on “Fracking”

Raleigh North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) released the following statement tonight after the North Carolina House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 820, which provides regulatory framework and strict guidelines for legalizing the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  It was the third veto override of the day, and the eleventh time since January of 2011 that a bipartisan majority in the House has voted to override a gubernatorial veto.  Earlier today, the Senate also voted to override the veto.   The House override allows the bill to become law over the objections of the Governor.

“Senate Bill 820 is a responsible step toward a robust new job sector for North Carolina.  The passage of this bill is an opportunity to attract new industry to the state and make North Carolina a national leader in renewable energy efforts.  This legislation was the product of countless hours of work between members of both parties, who brought stakeholders together to craft a bill that addresses environmental concerns while providing a reasonable path forward for hydraulic fracturing.  I commend the members of the Democratic caucus who put common-sense, job-creating policy ahead of partisan politics.  Years from now, when thousands of North Carolinians are employed in jobs created by the renewable energy sector, we will look back on this day with pride.”  – Thom Tillis

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 2, 2012

Tillis Statement on House Override of Perdue Veto on Budget

Raleigh North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) released the following statement tonight after the North Carolina House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of House Bill 950, which modifies the state budget.  It was the tenth time since January of 2011 that a majority in the House has voted to override a gubernatorial veto.  The Senate is also expected to override the veto, which will allow the budget to become law over the objections of the Governor.

“For the second year in a row, Republicans and Democrats in the House have voted together in a bipartisan manner to pass a common-sense budget over the partisan objections of the Governor.  This budget builds on the fiscally conservative foundation of last year’s budget, but restores funding in critical areas.  Our budget provides more than $250 million in additional funds to public education, including a 1.2% pay raise for teachers.  It addresses funding problems in the Medicaid system, cuts and caps the gas tax, provides state employees with a pay raise, and gives retirees a cost-of-living increase.  It accomplishes all of this without incurring debt or raising taxes.  I am proud of the bipartisan majority who stood together to override the veto, and for the second time in two years, we have passed a budget that will benefit every North Carolinian.” – Thom Tillis

 

Perdue’s Irrational Partisanship

Gov. Beverly Perdue today announced she will veto a $20.2 billion budget adjustment that invests in many key priorities. Republican state lawmakers refused several of Perdue’s unreasonable and reckless demands to hike taxes by nearly a billion dollars (a 15% increase on all North Carolinians), raid critical dollars for Medicaid, or create a massive revenue shortfall for the next governor and General Assembly to address.

Below is a joint statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg):

“Gov. Perdue uses apocalyptic language to explain her veto, and yet the difference between the dollars she demanded and what we budgeted is a fraction of one percent of the total budget. The fact that she would reject hundreds of millions in additional state funding for public schools and Medicaid, a cut to the state gas tax and a raise for teachers and state employees proves she’s more interested in winning a political battle than in doing what’s right.  She turned her back on North Carolina’s children today, and we are working to secure the votes necessary to override this irresponsible veto.”

This is simply another action in a long line of irrationally partison moves made by Gov. Perdue that has resulted in her status as the least popular governor in the United States.  She cannot seem to understand that tax increases and irresponsible accounting gimmicks are not long-term solutions for North Carolina.

 

ACTION ALERT

House Bill 2 – “Protect Health Care Freedom” could be

revived pending the US Supreme Court’s decision today

 

On March 5, 2011 Governor Perdue vetoed the General Assembly’s attempt to protect citizens against the unconstitutional mandates contained in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (aka Obamacare) in North Carolina.

House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) stated, “The federal healthcare legislation is the first time Congress has imposed onerous requirements on citizens merely because they are alive and draw breath. Americans aren’t really free if big brother can tell them what products or services to buy based on these criteria.”

On May 11, 2011, Republican leaders in the House and Senate filed an Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts is expected to announce the result of this appeal today.

Rep. Stam has indicated that an outright overturn or partial rejection of the Federal health care law could change some minds in Raleigh.

“Procedurally we can bring it (HB-2) up any time, and we very well may.  Most of the opposition to this bill was prefaced on the belief that the individual mandate was obviously constitutional.”

HB-2 was a top priority for the Republican controlled General Assembly because the legislation protects North Carolina citizens from the unconstitutional mandate to enroll in health insurance or to buy medical care under the federal healthcare legislation passed last year.

Read more here: Stam says Supreme Court health care ruling could revive HB-2

Read the Bill: HB-2 “Protect Health Care Freedom”

 

RALEIGH, NC – Today (6/20/12) leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly reached a budget agreement.

NCGOP Executive Director Scott Laster had this to say, “Today’s budget secures recurring funding for public education, reforms our educational system, improves teacher salaries, and balances a budget without raising taxes. Many of these policies are things that both parties have agreed on historically, and we hope that the Democrats will help pass this budget for the people of North Carolina.

Walter Dalton has made statements over the past few weeks suggesting that he would disagree with this budget. But as a chief architect on previous budgets, some that left historic billion-dollar plus shortfalls, what does he disagree with?

If Dalton disagrees with improving teacher salaries, education reform, secured recurring funding, or balancing a budget without raising taxes, he should come clean and explain why. And if Dalton wants to make any ‘alterations’ to the budget, we’re curious to know what he’d do and how high he’d raise taxes to make his desired liberal changes.”

House, Senate budget agreement restores $251 million to public education, fixes Medicaid, cuts gas tax

Raleigh, N.C. – State lawmakers reached a $20.18 billion budget agreement Wednesday morning.

The agreement makes adjustments to the state’s current biennial budget which filled a $2.5 billion deficit Republicans inherited from previous leadership, reduced government spending by nearly $1 billion and enacted a $50,000 income tax cut for job-creating businesses.

Highlights of the budget agreement include:

·         It restores $251 million in recurring state dollars to public education. (K-12)

·         It continues to fully fund at the state level all classroom teachers and teaching assistants. In fact, it increases state level funding for teachers to a higher amount than the last Perdue-Dalton budget.

·         It provides $27 million for an education reform program to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children’s education.

·         It provides $274 million in additional Medicaid funding to cover liabilities created while Democrats controlled the General Assembly. The bill also puts $100 million into the savings reserve fund to help protect the fiscal solvency of the program.

·         It cuts and freezes the state gas tax to 37.5 cents per gallon – 1.4 cents per gallon less than the current rate.

·         It provides public school teachers and state employees a 1.2 percent raise – the first raise since 2008.  Our community college and university systems are given funds for a 1.2 percent raise with flexibility on how to use this money to recruit, retain and reward excellent instructors.

·         It fully funds the state retirement system and gives state retirees a 1 percent cost of living adjustment.  This is the first adjustment since 2008.

·         It funds a $5 million jobs training program through the community college system.

“Our budget reforms and makes smart investments in public education, gives raises to teachers and state employees, fixes problems in Medicaid, and cuts the gas tax – without a job-destroying $1 billion tax hike,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.)  “We worked in good faith to incorporate good ideas from both sides of the aisle, and we urge Gov. Perdue to sign this budget.”

“This is a consensus budget that builds on the conservative framework of last year’s agreement,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg.) “It is fiscally responsible, economically sustainable, keeps taxes low and demands efficiency from state government.  It utilizes resources to make targeted improvements in education, Medicaid and transportation.  This budget is a smart, sensible foundation that continues our task of putting North Carolina’s fiscal house in order.”

 

Bipartisan Majority in NC House Approves 8th Override of Gubernatorial Veto

Raleigh A bipartisan majority in the North Carolina House voted today to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of House Bill 7, which allows community colleges to opt out of the William Ford federal loan program.

“House Bill 7 gives community colleges more flexibility to conduct financial aid as they see fit,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg).  “It is a bill that many community colleges have requested, and the Governor’s veto has resulted in many local bills having to be passed to accommodate the colleges.  It is a good day for community colleges, who now have more control over their financial aid systems.”

The override measure, which passed with a bipartisan vote of 71-46, was the eighth time the North Carolina House has gained bipartisan support to pass a bill over the objections of the Governor.  “This bill simply gives community college presidents the ability to decide if participating in the Ford federal loan program is in the best interest of their college.” Tillis said.  “This measure passed today because it is sound public policy that reaches across both sides of the aisle.”

 

The effort explains the success of North Carolina’s recently passed state budget that offered North Carolina real solutions by eliminating the $3 billion deficit, balancing the budget, adding state-funded teachers and lowering taxes.

The effort includes a 30 second television commercial that touts the NC Real Solutions website: www.ncrealsolutions.com.

Cracking Down on Unemployment Fraud

Today, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte), along with Representatives Marilyn Avila (R-Raleigh) and G. L. Pridgen (R-Lumberton), announced the creation of the House Task Force on Unemployment Fraud.  Representatives Avila and Pridgen will serve as co-chairs.

This Task Force will find common-sense solutions to protect the safety net for those North Carolinians who truly need it while addressing the criminal theft of taxpayer resources for personal gain.

North Carolina taxpayers lost over $162 million in improper benefit payments last year alone. A recent U.S. Department of Labor audit found that North Carolina overpaid $550 million worth of benefits over the last several years.  What’s worse, Governor Perdue forgave the overpaid benefits last year.  This is unacceptable.

North Carolina House Republicans are committed to getting our state’s fiscal house in order.  This means systematically removing fraud, waste, and abuse from our state government.  We can accomplish this in  part by creating effective safeguards against fraud and overpayments, which our system currently lacks.

While unemployment insurance fraud is a serious problem that needs addressing, it is only one example of a broken, inefficient system that North Carolina House Republicans are working to reform.  It took 142 years of bad policy to get us into this mess, but with your help we can get out of it.

 

Fact vs. Fiction: Education Spending…..Get your facts straight Ray Rapp!!

North Carolina Democrats and progressive liberal attack groups like Progress NC, funded in part by George Soros, have been traveling across North Carolina claiming the bipartisan state budget “puts North Carolina at 49th nationally in per-pupil spending.”

However, a new report from the National Education Association contradicts these claims made by North Carolina House Democrats and their secretly funded liberal allies.  According to the NEA report, North Carolina ranks 42nd in per-pupil expenditures (this is actually a three-point improvement from 45th in 2010).

At the end of the day, it is important to clear up this false narrative being pushed by the Democrats that Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are out to hurt education.  This is a narrative aimed at appealing to emotion, rather than focusing on the facts.

North Carolina House Republicans are committed to reforming education to make sure that money makes it into the classroom instead of helping to fund a bloated bureaucracy.

We hope that the North Carolina House Democrats and their progressive liberal attack groups such as Progress NC will stop resorting to misinformation to mislead the citizens of North Carolina.

 

Here’s the truth about the Charter Schools Bill introduced by the GOP Senators:

Senate Bill 8 – Charter Schools

On Monday evening, Senate Bill 8, “An Act to Remove the Cap on the Number of Charter Schools,” passed the House by a vote of 68 – 51.  Despite its unanimous support from Republicans and one courageous Democrat, changes to the charter school legislation have raised questions by some as it now heads to conference.  Let’s clarify some of the concerns surrounding Senate Bill 8:

The Cap

For 15 years the number of charter schools has been capped at 100.  That cap will be removed.

Both House and Senate versions of the SB 8 remove the cap on charter schools, but the House version places a per year limit on charter creation at 50.  While the original Senate version was unlimited, it was vigorously objected too.  So the House and Senate bill sponsors, in consultation with charter advocates, suggested a limit of 50 charters per year, not including renewals.

Will the 50 per year limit take away the educational opportunity of students?  And will “restart charters” or “charter lite” schools count against the per year limit?

We believe that 50 charters are more than would ever be approved in a year due to the application process.   And “restart charters” or “charter lite” schools do not count against the yearly limit.  They are not charter schools anyway.

Governance

Does SB 8 weaken charter school autonomy?

The Public Charter School’s Commission, eight of whose thirteen members will be appointed by Speaker Tillis and President Pro Tem Berger, make recommendations that must be considered by the State Board of Education.  The consent of the State Board must not be unreasonably withheld.  And if the State Board ultimately rejects a recommendation of the Commission; it must not do so in an arbitrary or capricious manner. That is legalese for the applicant can go straight to court if the State Board tries to play games.   If the State Board of Education does not act on a commission recommendation within three months, then it is deemed approved.

If the bill only raised the cap on charter schools it would do nothing to improve the governance of charter schools.

Those who favor less interference with charters by the State Board of Education should welcome this new proposal.

Accountability

Will SB 8 unfairly raise the bar for termination and renewal of charters for non-performance?

No.  The standards set forth in the current version of the bill are more lenient and practical than current State Board of Education policy which mandates the closing of a school if the charter school, for two or three consecutive school years, does not meet or exceed expected growth and has a Performance Composite below 60%.

Under SB 8, if a charter school is not meeting or exceeding expected growth, then a school improvement plan must be put into place rather than immediate termination.  This is important because many charters specifically target “at-risk” students.

Funding

Do charter schools divert resources from traditional public schools?

Let me illustrate mathematically why this is not true.  The exact figures may be uncertain but the point is the same regardless.

When a child leaves a traditional public school for a public charter school, approximately 70% – 80% of the funding that child receives goes with him to the charter school he attends.  That means 20% – 30% of the money it costs to educate that child stays with the school that he left – in this case a traditional public school.  So, the traditional public school no longer has to pay the cost of educating him and still gets to keep 20% – 30% of his allotted funding.

This is why having more public charter schools actually saves traditional public schools money.

However, some say “yes” but the total amount is still less.  Not really.   Because the growth in enrollment in charter schools is less than the total growth in enrollment of the entire traditional public school system, total resources (as well as per capita resources) have actually grown as well.

Long story short: charters do not divert resources from the public schools despite slogans to the contrary because (1) by law charter schools are public schools and (2) the funding mechanism established for them ensures that traditional public schools get more resources per student as and when more charters are established.

Other Advantages to SB 8 on Funds

Those who oppose the House version of Senate Bill 8 fail to consider the advantages of the current bill that go beyond lifting the cap.  The advantages are numerous but chief among them is that for the first time counties would be allowed, at their option, to provide capital money for charters.   Failure to include capital funding is what has put charters at a disadvantage financially.

This bill makes it possible for charters to equalize funding.

Today, there is a cap on charter schools in North Carolina.  Senate Bill 8 will remove it.  Today, only 46 counties have charter schools.  Senate Bill 8 will change that.  This year thousands of North Carolina parents have no options in educating their children.  Senate Bill 8 will give parents a choice.

Sincerely,

Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam

North Carolina House Republican Leader

 

Restore Confidence in Government
Yesterday, we sent an email about our common-sense legislation to require voters to show a Photo ID before casting their ballot.We cited a recent poll that shows that an overwhelming 84% of North Carolinians favor this common-sense legislation. Also, yesterday over 1,300 North Carolinians signed our online petitionshowing their support!“Restore Confidence in Government”will restore the integrity and confidence in our election and our government that we deserve.Today, we want to make sure you have the FACTS, because we know liberal special-interest groups will distort the facts and resort to half-truths to attack this legislation.

Fact or Fiction:
Fiction: Critics will claim that there were only “a handful of cases of voter fraud” in the past decade.

Fact: In 2008 alone, there were “235 voting felonies, 30 cases of double voting, 23 cases of noncitizens voting, 5 cases of absentee voting fraud and 16 cases of fraudulent registration forms.”

Fiction: Liberal special-interest groups will paint this legislation as “voter suppression” or a “poll tax” to require citizens to show a valid Photo ID before voting.

Fact: Below are countless activities that North Carolinians must show a Photo ID:

  • Attending a rated-R movie
  • Cashing a check
  • Purchasing items using a personal credit card
  • Purchasing alcohol or tobacco products
  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • Even the ability to panhandle in Winston-Salem

If these routine activities require a photo ID, then why are the liberal special-interest groups against instilling integrity and confidence in our elections and our government?

 

In addition, this legislation will restore confidence in government by enacting the following:

 

Granting more flexibility in applying for Absentee Ballots to provide greater access to voting than current law.

 

Requiring candidates and campaign treasurers to take immediate action to correct campaign finance violations and requiring liability of candidates for civil penalties for campaign finance violations of a candidate campaign committee.

Limiting the Chair of the State Board of Elections to 2 two-year terms in that office.

Prohibiting the employment or contracting of persons to register voters or assist or encourage voters to fill out voter registration forms.

Preventing conflict of interest and its appearance involving political contributions by state contractors.

 

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