Daily dose

Monday News: Unraveling the safety net

TRUMP'S BUDGET WILL SLASH MEDICAID AND OTHER FUNDING FOR THE POOR: For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump's budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade. The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article151860397.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

BUDGET AMENDMENT AIMED TO PUT BLACK SENATORS IN THEIR PLACE: Angered at some legislators’ efforts to amend their budget dictates, Sen. Brent Jackson, a hog farmer from Sampson County, and the Senate leadership shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars away from schools in poor areas of the state to non-education programs in areas largely represented by Republicans. It was a spiteful act aimed to put Democrats, particularly African-American senators, in their place. It strips $316,600 from early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties and prohibits using state funds to support a summer science, math and technology program in the area. This action will, according to state Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, shut the program down. There is no shading of the truth here. This astonishing act of unvarnished racism is more reminiscent of 1917 North Carolina than 2017! It was about punishing those uppity black legislators in the Senate because they stood up and opposed the Senate leadership’s budget.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-budget-amendment-aimed-to-put-black-senators-in-their-place/16710250/

Saturday News: Experience not necessary

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TREASURER DALE FOLWELL HIRES UNQUALIFIED DIRECTORS FOR STATE HEALTH PLAN: State Treasurer Dale Folwell has placed two officials with no previous experience in health insurance or health care into director-level positions with the State Health Plan and is seeking greater control over hiring and firing. Folwell defended the new hires, characterizing the health plan as broken and saying it sorely needed people with financial know-how rather than health plan experience to improve its finances and reduce costs. He said he had hired people with “integrity, ability and passion” who could implement the changes that are needed. The hirings and dismissals – including the hiring of a director who until recently was treasurer of the state Republican Party – raise questions about whether the Treasurer’s office is becoming politicized. Folwell says it’s not.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article151587352.html

Friday News: Privatization mayhem

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NC'S MANAGED CARE MENTAL HEALTH CEO RAKES IN HUGE UNAUTHORIZED SALARY: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions had been under fire from legislators and the former head of the state Department of Health and Human Services for paying its CEO Richard Topping more than $635,000 in salary this year. He makes more than leaders of the six other regional mental health offices and more than state policy allows. The report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said Cardinal decided on Topping’s pay without getting required approvals from the state Human Resources office. That office established about $187,000 as the maximum salary for that job in 2010, according to the audit.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article151236432.html

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

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