Original Commentary

Original Commentary

Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

3---number of states that adopted new state Earned Income Tax Credits in 2017---Montana, Hawaii, and South Carolina (“State EITC Wins Help Spread Prosperity,” Off the Charts Blog, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 10, 2017)

80,000---number of low and moderate income families in Montana who will benefit from a new state refundable EITC (Ibid)

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

The Follies

Lawmakers vote to protect themselves and illegal districts

The big story in Raleigh this week was the adoption by a joint House and Senate redistricting committee of the criteria lawmakers will use to redraw legislative districts in the next few weeks after the federal courts found the current districts were illegally gerrymandered using race.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

The scandalous special sessions that subvert our democracy

The General Assembly will convene a special session next week but most people in North Carolina, including the vast majority of the members of House and Senate, have no idea what legislation they will consider while they are in town.

Last week lawmakers met in a one-day special session supposedly to consider overriding a series of vetoes by Governor Roy Cooper. That was the stated purpose anyway.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

There’s simply no way to know whether NC school vouchers are really helping low-income kids

The leader of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, Darrell Allison, said recently that school vouchers aren’t likely to hurt children from low-income households who use them. But he couldn’t say definitively that the voucher program actually helps these children, either.

Why? Because despite the fact that North Carolina spends millions of taxpayers’ dollars each year on vouchers, we have no meaningful data that can tell us if this is an effective way to help poor students who deserve a high quality education.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The fight for democracy gains momentum

Despite lawmakers’ latest big stall, redistricting reformers are on the offensive

“The dog ate my homework.” If you thought this old cliché of an excuse lost all currency in the world after about the fourth grade and/or when students start turning in their assignments online, think again.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Attack on UNC Center for Civil Rights: Even worse than it looks

The optics, as they say, are terrible. But in a state whose motto is “To Be Rather Than to Seem,” it’s even more important to look at the substance.

And the substance is worse.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

2,466---amount in dollars that per-student state funding in the UNC system is less than the funding level in 2008 when adjusted for inflation (“Funding Down, Tuition Up: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Quality and Affordability at Public Colleges, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 15, 2016)

20---percentage decline in per-pupil funding for the university system from 2008 to 2016 when adjusted for inflation

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

UNC Board vote on Civil Rights Center the latest move in an ideological crusade

Two and half years ago, the UNC Board of Governors voted to fire widely respected UNC President Tom Ross.

The move by the handpicked board of the Republican legislative majorities came with no public notice and there was no reason given for forcing Ross to resign.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Uh-oh – it’s the legislature, again

Better get used to it. The N.C. General Assembly, after an all-too-brief adjournment during July, is about to reopen for business in its marble and masonry maze on Raleigh’s Jones Street.

Given this legislature’s track record so far, the big question would seem to be: How much more damage will unfold as majority Republicans seek to carve their narrow-minded agenda even more deeply into the state’s civic bedrock?

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

What the fight over fair elections is really all about

As NC looks at election rules and redistricting, a powerful new book reminds us why these issues are even on the table

This is an especially busy week in the fight for fair elections in North Carolina. Late yesterday, a panel of three federal judges issued an order in the case of North Carolina v. Covington – a challenge to North Carolina’s unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative districts. The ruling came just hours after the North Carolina State Board of Elections conducted a hearing on a set of new proposed rules that could rein in some of the worst voter suppression tactics employed by conservatives during the 2016 election.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

56---number of days since the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with a lower court ruling that General Assembly districts drawn in 2011 were illegally gerrymandered based on race (“U.S. Supreme Court agrees NC legislative districts were illegally gerrymandered based on race,” Progressive Pulse, June 6, 2017)

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Health care for millions and democracy itself is now at risk

It is not just health care for 30 million people at stake these days. Democracy is hanging by a thread too-in Raleigh and in Washington.

First, consider the spectacle of Sen. John McCain, arriving back in Washington Tuesday for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Let’s keep the bar on churches endorsing political candidates

President Trump and others in Washington have recently proposed doing away with the longstanding bar on churches becoming involved in partisan politics. Unfortunately, I have found to my dismay that many people have a simplistic understanding of the importance of keeping charitable, tax-exempt organizations (including houses of worship) out of partisan politics.

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