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Class-size chaos

Controversy over class-size requirements in early grades has emerged as the biggest issue facing North Carolina’s public schools in the 2017 legislative session. Current law requires school districts (also known as local education agencies, or LEAs) to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 in the upcoming 2017-18 school year. However, the General Assembly has failed to provide the funding necessary to allow districts to meet the class size goals. Absent General Assembly action, districts are scrambling to meet the requirements by initiating layoffs and eliminating enhancement teaching positions in subjects like art, physical education, and music.

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Must Reads Other Voices Top Story

What you need to know as the state Senate moves to cut taxes yet again

The North Carolina Senate is moving ahead yet again – perhaps as early as this afternoon – with a new proposal to further reduce state taxes and the revenues they generate to fund essential public structures and services. While the plan is billed as “a billion dollar middle class tax cut,” a closer look at the data reveals that this is an inaccurate and misleading label. As is demonstrated in the essays below, not only does the plan include yet another round of unnecessary and illogical tax cuts for profitable businesses, most of the tax cuts targeting individuals would actually flow to the wealthy. We invite you to read and share these two essays widely.

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Must Reads Setting the Record Straight

General Assembly sends HB2 “repeal” to Cooper’s desk

Governor, some Democrats support effort in face of impassioned progressive opposition

In a strange and remarkable replay of the controversial one-day special legislative session that took place one year ago last week, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation today in a matter of hours that purports to repeal HB2 – the state’s infamous LGBTQ discrimination law. Surprisingly, the proposal also appears to have the backing of Governor Roy Cooper, who issued a terse statement of support last night.

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Must Reads News

New data document the many perils of Trumpcare for North Carolina

This Thursday, March 23, marks the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) -- the landmark federal law that secured and guaranteed health insurance for millions of previously uninsured Americans and saved tens of thousands of lives. Unfortunately however, Thursday is also the day on which leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives currently plan to vote on a “replacement” for the ACA that they have dubbed the “American Health Care Act” and that many outside of Washington have come to refer to as “Trumpcare.”

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Must Reads Top Story

Governor Cooper’s budget: Pragmatic progress, but past GOP tax cuts remain a big problem

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper unveiled his proposed two-year budget plan today. The Governor touted his proposal under the heading “Common Ground Solutions” and stated that it would make “critical investments in education, health care, economic development and public safety…without raising taxes or fees, cutting services, or borrowing from special funds.”

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Featured Articles Must Reads

Lawmakers obsess over “rainy day fund” while much of NC remains under water

The latest BTC Brief from the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center is out and it is a “must read” for anyone interested in what’s really going on with state budget debate. In “Saving for a rainy day when NC needs and umbrella today,” BTC analyst Cedric Johnson provides a powerful critique of recent proposals at the state Legislative Building to further bolster the state “rainy day fund” at the same time that a host of core public systems and structures remain destructively under-funded.

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Featured Articles Must Reads

Five questions with Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford)

Two-term N.C. Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) begins this legislative session as the only openly LGBT member of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Last year, amid the controversy over HB2, Brockman came out as bisexual - something he says even his family didn't know. His experience as an aide to former Rep. Marcus Brandon, an openly gay black state representative, gave him the opportunity to see the challenges of being an out politician up-close - and didn't make the decision to come easier, once elected.

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Environment Featured Articles Must Reads

Jones Street primer: What to expect from the 2017 legislative session (Part Two)

The 2017 session of the legislature kicked off this morning with House and Senate members gathering to establish rules and then picking-up where they left off in December. The repeal of House Bill 2, voting rights, the question of raising the age at which individuals can be prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system, the state's coal ash problem and a new budget are among the issues lawmakers will tackle in the coming months. This afternoon reporter Lisa Sorg has a rundown of the environmental issues facing the General Assembly. Click here for Part One of our legislative preview by NC Policy Watch reporters Joe Killian and Melissa Boughton.

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Featured Articles Must Reads

Jones Street primer: What to expect from the 2017 legislative session (Part One)

The 2017 session of the legislature kicks off this morning with House and Senate members gathering to establish rules and then picking-up where they left off in December. The repeal of House Bill 2, voting rights, the question of raising the age at which individuals can be prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system, and a new budget are among some of the issues lawmakers will tackle in the coming months. NC Policy Watch reporters Joe Killian and Melissa Boughton offer this session preview. Check back this afternoon when Lisa Sorg has a rundown of the environmental issues facing the General Assembly.

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Featured Articles Legislator Profiles Must Reads

The Class of 2017 – Rep. Philip Lehman

N.C. Policy Watch is chatting with some of the newest members of the N.C. General Assembly to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. The 2017 session of the legislature gets underway Wednesday, January 11.

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Must Reads

Legislature fails to repeal HB2 in special session; Senator says ‘we’re worse off now’ than before

In true North Carolina General Assembly fashion, all the fireworks of the fifth special legislative session of the year went off in the 11th hour – or rather, the ninth hour for those keeping track of the day.

Legislators were called to Raleigh to repeal House Bill 2 after Charlotte repealed its anti-discrimination ordinance. They left without repealing anything.

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Featured Articles Must Reads

Conservative lawmakers move to curtail Cooper’s powers in additional special session

The North Carolina General Assembly's GOP majority moved to dramatically limit the powers of the governor's office Wednesday as Democratic Governor-Elect Roy Cooper prepares to take office next month.

House Bill 17, filed late Wednesday during a special session called without warning to Democratic lawmakers, is the widest ranging example.

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Must Reads

Disaster relief bill wins unanimous support in the House

Legislators continue to weigh what other bills should move in special session The vibe in the halls of the Legislative Building Tuesday ranged from angry — protesters chanted “shame” outside the Senate gallery — to anxious — as ...
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Featured Articles Must Reads

Gov. McCrory concedes election in video message

After nearly a month of contesting the results of the Nov. 8 election, Gov. Pat McCrory conceded to Attorney General Roy Cooper in a video message Monday.

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Featured Articles Must Reads

A simple Thanksgiving week policy objective Make sure North Carolinians have access to food

When North Carolinians are able to purchase and eat healthy and nutritious food, they fuel active and healthy lifestyles, stay engaged at work and school, and boost the economy through their grocery shopping. Every night, almost 630,000 North Carolina households don’t have enough to eat. North Carolina has the 8th highest rate of food insecurity in the nation. Homes that have low food security often must make tough choices about the amount and quality of food they are able to provide their families. Homes that are considered to have “very low” food security often miss meals. According to the USDA, in the past year more than 90 percent of these families worried that food would run out; nearly 80 percent could not afford a balanced meal; and individuals in 96 percent of homes with very low food security skipped meals in order to make food last longer.

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Featured Articles Must Reads

Ten hard truths about North Carolina’s struggling economy

There’s been a great deal of back and forth in various media outlets in recent weeks about the true state of the North Carolina economy. In a powerful op-ed that appeared in Raleigh’s News & Observer last week, N.C. Budget and Tax Center Director Alexandra Sirota detailed why the so-called “Carolina Comeback” is only a rumor for millions of average people and how the state’s obsession with tax cuts has produced precious little in the way of measurable benefits.

As she observed:

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