Daily dose

Thursday News: Hunger Games, Chapter 7

HISE PROVISION IN BUDGET CUTS FOOD ASSISTANCE TO 51,236 CHILDREN: According to numbers released this week by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 132,902 people across the state would lose food assistance if the change is in the final budget. Of those, 51,236 are age 18 or younger – and could therefore lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Wednesday criticizing the provision. “Senate Republicans quietly slipped a provision in their budget to cut 100 percent federally-funded food-stamps for 133,000 North Carolinians,” the Democrat said. “This food makes a real difference for families who need it and doesn’t cost North Carolina any state tax money. Lining the pockets of millionaires while going out of the way to make it harder for children to eat is just wrong.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151063487.html

Wednesday News: Defending millionaires

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BERGER CUTS EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN DEMOCRATS' DISTRICTS TO PRESERVE TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY: N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger is defending Republican legislators’ controversial 3 a.m. move to strip funding from several education programs in counties represented by Democrats. He argues that the change was necessary to address the state’s opioid epidemic without raising taxes. Under the proposal from Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County, the reduction in the personal income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent wouldn’t apply to higher income taxpayers. For example, married couples filing jointly and earning more than $1 million annually would continue to pay the 5.499 percent rate, while those earning less would pay 5.35 percent.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150852097.html

Tuesday News: Comrade Trump

PRESIDENT REVEALS HIGHLY CLASSIFIED MATERIAL TO RUSSIAN DELEGATION VISITING OVAL OFFICE: President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. "This is code-word information," said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies."
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article150657307.html

Monday News: Vindictive Budgeting

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REPUBLICAN SENATORS PUNISH DEMOCRATS BY STRIPPING EDUCATION FUNDING FROM THEIR DISTRICTS: Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s rural district in northeastern North Carolina took the biggest hit from the amendment. It strips $316,646 from two early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties, and it specifically bans state funding from supporting a summer science, math and technology program called Eastern North Carolina STEM. The funding level for the program didn’t change, but seven counties represented by Smith-Ingram and fellow Democratic Sen. Angela Bryant were removed. Instead, the program will only apply to several counties represented by Republican senators.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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SENATE'S LOW EXPECTATIONS BUDGET FAILS STATE'S NEEDS: North Carolina teachers have more ground to make up than the Senate proposes. Why the limited increases? Once again, the Senate starts with a tax decrease and works up from there. What schools need doesn’t matter. Reducing taxes fixes everything. Gov. Roy Cooper’s modest budget plan should have been the Senate’s bottom line for teacher pay. Instead, at EVERY LEVEL, the Senate under cuts Cooper’s plans to improve compensation for teachers. The Senate offers NO increase in the starting salaries for teachers. And, adding insult to injury, offers no boost for the most experienced teachers. There is a term for withholding raises from long term employees – “harvesting the workforce.” Organizations use it to force out experienced employees to replace them with lower salaried employees. Who wants to work for an organization like that?
http://www.wral.com/editorial-senate-s-low-expectations-budget-fails-state-s-needs/16696768/

Saturday News: Job opening: Special Prosecutor

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BURR SAYS HE HAS MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN INVESTIGATE RUSSIA: “It’s safe to say that, with the events of the last week, it’s reminded me of the importance of what I do. It’s also reminded me that, with the hearing yesterday on global threats, that I can’t just focus my efforts on an investigation and Russia’s involvement in our elections, because the world is a very unstable place as it relates to security.” Most of Burr’s remarks focused on global security, and his comments on Comey notwithstanding, he ended with praise for the president, whom he has supported from early on. “I really worried as this year started with such a split of the American people, could we do big things?” Burr said. “I’m convinced today after hearing the president — who’s only focused on big things — we have no choice. We’re destined right now to do big things.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150311807.html

Friday News: "Nothing good happens after midnight at the NCGA"

SENATE REPUBLICANS RAILROAD BUDGET THROUGH IN WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING: Senators held an initial 34-15 vote Thursday evening, then returned at 12:05 a.m. Friday to take a final vote, because the chamber’s rules require that the two mandatory votes to pass the bill can’t be taken on the same day. The Senate GOP has referred to the plan as a “billion-dollar middle-class tax cut,” but Democrats note that it would reduce revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars. “We cannot meet our core responsibilities as a state if we continue to give away money to corporations and those at the top,” said Sen. Mike Woodard, a Durham Democrat. As Democrats continued to file amendments, Republicans apparently grew frustrated and called for a break until 2:30 a.m. Some senators took naps, while others held an impromptu dance party in the halls of the Legislative Building. Jackson’s amended passed 34-13 and the Senate then took its final budget vote shortly after 3 a.m. Friday.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150077897.html

Thursday News: Burr is no Sam Ervin, Rob

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CHRISTENSEN WRITES ANOTHER SPORTS STORY ABOUT POLITICS: But he has rarely sought the limelight – infrequently appearing on the Sunday talk shows and preferring to quietly tour local businesses rather than holding news conferences back home. As a result, Burr – while politically successful – has never achieved the fame or devoted following of such Tar Heel senators as Jesse Helms, Elizabeth Dole, John Edwards or Terry Sanford. But Burr is now on the biggest stage of his career. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr has been thrust into the middle of the investigation of Russian meddling in the last presidential election and whether Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the presidency. As veteran political consultant Walter de Vries of Wrightsville Beach has recently noted, that has placed Burr in a position – similar to the late Sen. Sam Ervin – “to achieve historical greatness in the way he runs his committee’s investigation.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/rob-christensen/article1...

Wednesday News: Trump fires FBI Director investigating him

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SENATOR MARK WARNER CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN TRUMP/RUSSIA PROBE: Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was one of many to call the firing proof that a special prosecutor was needed to oversee the Russian meddling investigation. He called Comey’s dismissal “shocking” and “deeply troubling.” Warner said a pattern appears to be developing in the Trump administration. “The administration insists there’s no ‘there there,’ yet President Trump has so far fired the acting attorney general, nearly every U.S. attorney, and now the director of the FBI,” he said in a statement. “In addition, this president’s choice for attorney general has been forced to recuse himself, and the national security adviser has resigned, as a result of undisclosed contacts with Russian officials . . . It is vital that our ongoing investigation is completed in a credible and bipartisan way.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article149608594.html

Tuesday News: All hail Sally Yates

FORMER ACTING AG TESTIFIES ABOUT WARNINGS SHE GAVE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ABOUT FLYNN/RUSSIA TIES: "We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House, in part because the vice president was unknowingly making false statements to the public and because we believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians," Yates said. "To state the obvious," she added later, "you don't want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians." Trump shouldered into the conversation in the morning, tweeting that it was the Obama administration, not he, that had given Lt. Gen. Flynn "the highest security clearance" when he worked at the Pentagon. Trump made no mention of the fact that Flynn had been fired from his high position by the Obama administration in 2014.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article149217479.html

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