Our Schools Are Saved!

At last! Help for our ailing public school system!

Reps. Justin Burr & John Torbett have filed HB 858 to collect $500,000 from lottery proceeds to create funding for suitable portraits of George Washington for every public school that requests one from the governor's office!

SECTION 1.(a) There is established in the Office of the Governor for the
2015-2017 fiscal biennium a grant program to provide funding to the State's public schools for the purchase of suitable framed portraits of George Washington so that each public school that requests funding may display the likeness of the first United States President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in a dignified location and manner so as to educate students about one of the most important figures in the nation's history and an enduring model of character, leadership, and civic responsibility.

Not enough money for textbooks, teachers, teachers' aides, computers, copy paper, but Thank, Goodness, there will be pictures… excuse me, Portraits, of George Washington for our children to gaze upon in their schools.

Daily dose: "It's not a tax, it's a fee" edition

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GOP hikes for insurance taxes, other fees may pave NC highways (WRAL-TV) -- Saying North Carolina's tax on gasoline is an unreliable source of revenue for the state's highway construction and maintenance program, Republican lawmakers on Thursday rolled out a plan to increase vehicle fees and a tax on automobile insurance coverage to augment gas tax funds.
http://www.wral.com/insurance-tax-higher-fees-may-pave-nc-highways/14589310/

Signed, sealed and delivered: Mike Hager, representative for ALEC

Having only one or two constituents must make things less complicated:

North Carolina legislators involved in ALEC have introduced HB 681, the latest attack on the state renewable portfolio standard. Sponsors of HB 681 include at least two ALEC member politicians: state Representatives Harry Warren and Mike Hager.

Hager led the clumsy attack on RPS in 2013, amid opposition from his own party. Hager was a longtime employee of Duke Energy, which is itself a corporate supporter of ALEC's distributed lobbying operations, and required to comply with RPS laws in states where it generates energy.

Honestly, I'm getting tired of writing about Mike Hager. But the only way I'm going to stop is if he stops trying to push an out-of-state billionaire's agenda in NC to the detriment of our renewable energy policy. Of course, one way to stop him from doing that is to vote his butt out of office, but that's not likely to happen in his District, unless another Republican takes him down.

Daily dose: Modern-day bigot statue to replace ancient bigot statue

Billy Graham honor sparks bitter debate (AP) — A proposal to honor North Carolina favorite son Rev. Billy Graham with a statue in Washington won state House approval Thursday, but not without complaints from Democrats about the process and counter-claims from Republicans that critics had something against Graham.
http://www.news-record.com/news/north_carolina/billy-graham-dedication-inside-u-s-capitol-in-d-c/art...

Graham statue bill leads to angry debate (WRAL-TV) -- A bill naming the Rev. Billy Graham to represent the state at the U.S. Capitol led to angry debate in the state House Thursday after its backers circumvented the standard legislative process.
http://www.wral.com/graham-statue-bill-leads-to-angry-debate/14587273/

Greensboro/High Point tops list of hungriest cities in US

And there doesn't appear to be a solution in the works:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are Census Bureau‐defined areas that include central cities plus the surrounding counties with strong economic and social ties to the central cities. In looking at MSA food hardship rates, FRAC aggregated 2013 and 2014 data to produce more accurate estimates and smaller margins of error.

The worst MSAs may be Greensboro‐High Point, North Carolina, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Fresno, California, but 98 of 100 MSAs have at least one in eight (12.5 percent or more) households reporting food hardship. While there was variation around the country, the inability to purchase adequate food was a serious problem in every MSA.

While hunger may be an extremely complex problem that doesn't lend itself to easy fixes, it is very easy to make it worse. You can cut back severely on unemployment benefits, you can cut back on funding for food stamps and/or make it difficult to administer properly, you can get rid of the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or take away certain tax deductions that particularly affect children or the elderly, and several other unwise and inhumane policy steps. But when you do all of those things without a care for the consequences, you have graduated from being conservative to being a genuine threat to the health and welfare of the society you're sworn to protect.

The Phil Berger Memorial Bridge

After much traipsing around in North Carolina state parks, Jane and I finally discovered this spectacular span, one of many that should be tagged with the Phil Berger moniker. Mr. Berger's budget for the year ahead represents a 24% cut in the state parks budget, which means there will be many more naming opportunities ahead. Thanks, Phil!

Foxx gets caught in the fraudulent for-profit college henhouse

Fruit from the contaminated tree:

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit "educational" special interest that has been busted for defrauding students (and the general public), has long had its tongue on Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's private parts. Open Secrets lists Corinthian Colleges among Foxx's biggest contributors. They've held fundraising receptions for her for several years.

Aside from the unsettling mental image I'm dealing with from that less-than-oblique oral sex reference, Jerry deserves several back-pats for taking on the unholy task of monitoring Virginia Foxx and her greedy supporters. We really need to spend the time and money to send her packing from Congress. Or test all the water wells in her Congressional District. Something is wrong with those people...

NC's wildly successful REPS law under attack

And big surprise, Mike Hager is leading the charge:

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, called REPS, was the first in the Southeast when lawmakers adopted it in 2007. The law says utilities have to generate increasing amounts of energy from the sun, wind and organic wastes, or from energy efficiency. It set an ultimate green-energy target of 12.5 percent of retail sales by 2021.

A bill sponsored by two chairs of the House Public Utilities committee and Majority Leader Mike Hager cuts that target by half. It makes the final target 6 percent, this year’s benchmark, and ends the mandate in 2018.

Most of you are probably aware of what our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is and what it does, but for those who aren't, I talked about this on our radio program five years ago (about the 18 minute mark). The program was already working well back then, but I wouldn't have dreamed it could be where it is today. In a time when most government programs fall well short of their original goals, to tear down one of the few that actually works the way it's supposed to is just plain stupid. And so is smothering this kind of needed rural revenue:

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