NCGA

Chronicling NC's great Republican tax shift

The only thing trickling down is the tax burden:

Adding salt to the wound is the state-imposed utility tax, which went from 3 percent to 7 percent as of July 1. The tax increase comes from Raleigh’s effort to protect a threatened minority (wealthy people and large corporations) and redistribute wealth (from the lower and middle classes to the wealthy).

Gov. Pat McCrory takes credit for that. He got a 2 percent cut in individual income tax and even larger cut in corporate state income tax, and said “other taxes have gone up to make up the difference. It was tax reform with a move to more of a consumption-based tax. You pay tax on a newspaper now, lawyers have to pay tax, there are a host of other new or increased consumption taxes and we closed up a lot of loopholes.”

Remember that the next time your Republican lawmakers say they cut your taxes.

Even if they do remember most of the Republicans' base is afflicted with the "Democrats did it too!" method of rationalization. And usually they're screaming that from under the bus their heroes have placed them.

Yes, we do care that the Tillisberger wastes tax dollars

It costs an estimated $50,000 per day to keep the NC general assembly in session. Tillisberger is keeping the NCGA in session much longer than estimated, and much longer than necessary, as they argue about who should suffer pain so that teachers can get a pay raise. So far, the potential pain recipients they've considered include old people, blind people, kids, disabled people, teacher assistants, school nurses and the teachers themselves.

They have not considered slightly reducing the extreme comfort level of Art Pope and his wealthy friends.

As lawmakers continue to snarl at each other over the state budget in the July swelter, predictions that the state House and Senate would wrap up their summer session by the end of June look laughably optimistic in hindsight.

$50,000 per day. For every day of the NC GOP legislators' theatrics, ten teachers could get a $5,000 raise.

Racism by any other name

Minority voters are impacted the most by NC's voter suppression laws:

While there is no dispute that “the overt racism of the 1960s is largely a thing of the past,” it is also true that in far too many places affected by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision voiding a critical section of the Voting Rights Act, racial discrimination continues to flourish.

One of the indignities of discrimination is the insistence on simply reducing it to “feelings.” But it is a matter of fact, not perception, that all of North Carolina’s voting provisions disproportionately affect racial minorities. Whether local officials are “shocked” by allegations of racial motives is beside the point.

Exactly. It doesn't (or shouldn't) matter if the intent of the law was to marginalize minority voters, and it also shouldn't matter if that intent can be proved legally. The facts on the ground are what matters, and those facts are disenfranchising a segment of our voting population. And it shouldn't be a partisan debate. These are Constitutional rights we're talking about, no matter how much propaganda and twisting is being done by those who would limit those rights for others.

90% of coal ash remains in Dan River after Duke Energy "completes" cleanup

If this is what they call "success," one would hate to see them fail:

Since the operation began on May 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months.

The company previously completed removal of ash and sediment from water treatment facilities in Danville and South Boston, as well as from locations in the river at the Dan River Steam Station and Town Creek, two miles downstream from the plant. More than 500 tons of coal ash and river sediment were removed from these areas.

Do the math. A low-end estimate on the spill had some 39,000 tons of ash released, and this combined 3,000 tons removed included an unknown quantity of non-ash sediment. What's left in the river could be closer to 95%. And the General Assembly wants to give Duke Energy "more flexibility" in the cleanup/relocation of all the other coal ash ponds?

Coal Ash Wednesday: arrested legislative development

Making a mess of cleaning up a mess:

“The Senate bill was weak to begin with,” said Kemp Burdette, Riverkeeper with Cape Fear River Watch, “it got even weaker in the House.” The legislation, he said, still does not spell out how DENR and the new coal ash commission should evaluate the sites.

Burdette toured the ash ponds at Duke’s Chatham County plant at the other end of the Cape Fear River on Friday and said the ponds should have been on the high priority list from the outset. The site did make the list briefly, after a coalition of Democrats and Sandhills Republicans won a vote on an amendment to add it to the priority list. The win was later overturned after House leaders intervened. Burdette said given what he saw on Friday, taking the Cape Fear ponds off the list seemed wrong.

“It looks pretty bad,” he said. “There are multiple seeps. The ponds are leaking. All five of [the ponds’ dams] are ranked as high hazard and they are arguably the most dangerous in the state.”

Common sense and science don't stand a chance when politics intervenes.

Another Voter Integrity Project stunt goes awry

Eliciting another toddler-like temper tantrum from Jay DeLancy:

Early Monday morning July 14th Wake County Elections Director Cherie Poucher listened to a strange request on her voice mail. Jay DeLancy of the Voter Integrity Project wanted to use a county polling place today, Tuesday July 15th, run-off primary election day, for a photo-shoot with a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters. DeLancy claimed he had cleared it with the precinct chief judge and wanted the Wake Board’s approval. The precinct chief judge in question is Denise Stetter who is also communications director for the Voter Integrity project. What they were conspiring to do would have been a violation of at least two North Carolina laws.

To put it in the quaint vernacular, "That boy ain't right." If all he really wanted was a photoshoot, he could have easily mocked-up a polling place, with a few tables and a few senior citizens sitting at them. But this is something more. Either he was planning for the masked men to intimidate voters, or he might have been angling to get that precinct in trouble with his "proof." Whatever the case, it doesn't have a damned thing to do with integrity, and neither does he:

Pubilic schools drive county economies in NC

The plans of the far right to destroy public education and utilize those tax dollars as a revenue stream for private businesses will do far more harm to North Carolina than just destroying our schools. It turns out that:

In 64 of North Carolina’s 100 counties .. a local school system is the largest single employer. A local school system is the second-largest employer in 24 other counties ….. In only 12 counties ... is a school system not in the top two…..

A few interesting notes: in counties where the school system is not the top employer, it’s usually due to the military (Craven, Cumberland, Onslow), a large university (Orange, Durham, Watauga, Pitt, Jackson), a prison (Granville, Hyde), or a large-scale hog/chicken processing plant (Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen). Note the absence of manufacturing.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Once again, the dreaded "R" word comes into play:

His chamber's a star chamber, where the elite decide who to punish.

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