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Articles

Progressive Voices Top Story

New budget with old agenda falls short

By now the strategy is familiar – the strategy used by the N.C. General Assembly’s Republican chiefs to try to make a fundamentally flawed state budget appear, well, not that bad. Or at least tolerable. Or better than it could have been and perhaps even worth supporting.

Here’s how it works:

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

18---percentage of people in North Carolina who receive health care coverage from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Medicaid in North Carolina, Kaiser Family Foundation, June 2017)

35---rank of North Carolina among the 50 states in Medicaid spending per enrollee (Ibid)

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Fitzsimon File

The Follies of the inadequate, spiteful and scandalous budget

Republican legislative leaders are desperately trying to shift the focus off the details of their mean-spirted and inadequate budget by absurdly demanding that Governor Roy Cooper sign it, trying to make the governor the issue instead of the stunningly bad decisions lawmakers made.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Campaign finance investigation of Senate Elections Committee chair continues

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) has yet to fully explain missing donor information and what appears to be a misappropriation of around $10,000 by Hise himself.

The campaign finance violations have drawn the ire of voter rights advocates and activists, including a billboard campaign to publicize Hise’s problems and pressure him to recuse himself from the legislature’s efforts to restructure state and local elections boards. Hise, a four-term Senator who chairs the powerful Senate Select Committee on Elections, has said little about the controversy.

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Environment Top Story

House Bill 374 and its restrictions on the citizens’ right to contest environmental permits, advances in Senate

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a notoriously cantankerous Republican from Randolph County, seemed to be in a particularly bad mood.

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Education Top Story

Public school advocates wary of “vouchers on steroids” in GOP-authored budget

The $23 billion budget deal speeding through the N.C. General Assembly this week includes a platoon of significant public school initiatives, including much-touted teacher raises, a swift ballooning of the state’s funding for a private school voucher program and dramatic cut-backs for North Carolina’s central K-12 bureaucracy.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Final budget fails to strengthen the foundation of North Carolina’s public schools

The final budget that lawmakers have proposed fails to strengthen the foundation of North Carolina’s public schools. While the public schools area of the budget seems to have a lot going on – one could argue that a ...
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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Don’t be misled by the headlines or the spin; the final budget is far worse than it looks

Most of the initial headlines about the final budget agreement announced Monday afternoon by legislative leaders were ones they could have written themselves, touting raises for teachers and state employees, a cost of living increase for state retirees and hundreds of millions of dollars more in funding for education.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The General Assembly’s war on the poor hits another new low

Unexplained, backroom maneuver would rob already underfunded anti-poverty program

There’s no denying that conservative ideology plays a big and important role in driving the North Carolina public policy debate these days. In battle after battle, Republican lawmakers have justified their positions and decisions – from cutting taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations to reducing environmental protection efforts to privatizing public education to an array of other actions – with the claim that they were vindicating the overarching philosophical cause of downsizing government and “unleashing the private sector.”

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Progressive Voices Top Story

State lawmakers expand funding for anti-abortion centers, even as women’s health suffers

Women and their access to health care has been in the news these past few months, as the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made headlines for, among other things, what it potentially leaves out of women’s health care coverage. Under the bill passed by the U.S. House known as the American Health Care Act, it’s quite possible that insurance companies could revive their old rules that treated sexual assault, domestic violence, postpartum depression, pregnancy, and Caesarean sections as “preexisting conditions,” and thereby charging women who have experienced them more or denying coverage entirely.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

755 million---amount in dollars of the increase in education funding in the budget proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper (2017 - 19 Governor's Recommended Budget, Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 257, Appropriations Act of 2017, as passed by the Senate; Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 257, Appropriations Act of 2017, as passed by the House)

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Bill to deregulate concealed carry poses political dilemma for GOP

Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro sets itself apart in a number of small ways - fast and friendly service, an intimate small business feel, Christian messages packed with your receipt for a pair of earrings or luxury watch repair.

And then there’s the message, painted on the glass next to the front door beneath the business hours.

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Environment Top Story

Private owners of Woodlake Dam are broke, so DEQ will spend nearly $1 million to fix it

Over one weekend last October, more than a half-foot of rain fell on the small town of Vass in Moore County. By Monday evening, when Hurricane Matthew had moved north and out to sea, a middle section of the spillway at Woodlake Dam had collapsed. Thousands of residents downstream were in danger.

The dam and lake are privately owned by Woodlake LLC, a troubled company with a dicey financial and environmental history: spinoff real estate ventures, multiple bankruptcies, broken promises to residents of its upscale development, violations of court orders and an opaque web of German investors and banks.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

GOP pulling out all the stops to maintain its unconstitutionally elected majority

Legislative leaders are scrambling for their political lives after the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the legislative districts they drew to lock in the power they gained in the 2010 election were unconstitutional because they were racially gerrymandered.

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