Fitzsimon File

Fitzsimon File

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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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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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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Monday numbers

7---number of days since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that legislative districts drawn by the General Assembly in 2011 were unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering but declined to order 2017 elections, leaving that up to the lower courts (“U.S. Supreme Court affirms racially gerrymandered legislative districts, vacates remedial special elections, Progressive Pulse, June 5, 2017)

0---number of dissenting votes on the Supreme Court in the decision to affirm the lower court ruling that the legislative districts were racially gerrymandered (Ibid)

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Fitzsimon File Original Commentary Top Story

The Follies: GOP leaders desperate to distract attention from their racially gerrymandered districts

The GOP spin machine is overheating this week as Republican legislative leaders continue to scramble to distract attention from the fact that the U.S Supreme Court, with a Republican majority that includes President Trump’s appointee, unanimously ruled that ...
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Reconciling the anemic spiteful budget of the Senate and the anemic dishonest budget of the House

House and Senate leaders are now meeting behind closed doors trying to work out the differences between the budgets passed by each chamber and come up with a final spending agreement.

It is an annual ritual that usually takes weeks, sometimes months, as the two budgets are often far apart in tax policy and spending priorities. It is not likely to take long this year---and that is not good news.

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Monday numbers

35,000---amount in dollars of starting teacher pay next year under the budget passed by the Senate (Governor, Senate and House proposed teacher salary schedule for 2017-2018, Governor Roy Cooper’s office)

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Tuesday numbers

2.8 billion---amount in dollars of additional revenue the state would have this year if state lawmakers had not changed the tax system that was in place in 2013 (“The Cost Of Trickle-Down Economics For North Carolina, N.C. Budget & Tax Center, May, 2017)

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The most shameful thing about the Senate budget

The most shameful thing about the disastrous budget passed by the Senate two weeks ago is not the vindictive 3:00 a.m. budget cuts to education programs in Democrats’ districts.

It’s not the paltry raise given to state workers after years of neglect or the cruel refusal to give state retirees any cost of living increase at all.

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Fitzsimon File

Monday numbers

2.8 billion---amount in dollars of needs in communities across the state for rebuilding efforts from damage sustained from Hurricane Matthew (“The word is in: It is up to NC policymakers to lead on Hurricane Matthew recovery,” Progressive Pulse, May 11, 2017)

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An offensive, belligerent and vindictive display in the halls of government

The last week has featured some of the most offensive, belligerent, and vindictive behavior by elected officials in generations---and that is not a reference to President Trump and his associates in Washington, though the characterization fits there too.

No, this startling episode came in the middle of the night last week in Raleigh when furious Republican leaders of the state Senate interrupted a debate on the state budget with a recess to meet with legislative staff.

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Monday numbers

22.9 billion---amount in dollars spent in the 2017-2018 fiscal year by the budget passed by the Senate last week (“N.C. Senate Would Have State Stand Still in Face of Uncertainty, Growing Needs,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, May 2015)

2.5---percentage increase in spending in Senate budget over current fiscal year (Ibid)

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The Senate budget: unwise tax breaks, petty partisan attacks, and inadequate investments

Senate leaders are trying hard to convince people that their anemic budget proposal moves the state forward by making big new investments in education and providing a middle class tax cut for most North Carolinians.

The numbers tell a much different story.

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Monday numbers

3---number of days until the state Senate is scheduled to pass its biennial budget according to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (“NC Senate on track to pass its budget plan next week,” Associated Press, May 4, 2017)

28---number of days since the last meeting of the full Senate Appropriations Committee (Ibid)

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A revealing turn in the push to take health care away from millions of people

The battle in Washington over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has taken a revealing turn in the last few days with members of the North Carolina congressional delegation playing major roles.

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Monday numbers

22.5 million---number of workers in the U.S. who would directly benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 (“Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift wages for 41 million American workers, Economic Policy Institute, April 26, 2017)

3.10---amount in dollars of the average increase those workers would receive in their hourly wage in current dollars (Ibid)

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