Original Commentary

Original Commentary

Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The right-wing house of cards shudders

Court setbacks, public opinion, progressive activism and Trump bode ill for NC conservatives

Professor Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law is a nationally recognized Supreme Court watcher and elections law expert. Yesterday on his highly-trafficked Election Law Blog, Hasen posted a fascinating 13-point take of Monday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s hyper-gerrymandered 2011 congressional district map. After sifting through Justice Elena Kagan’s lengthy opinion and even some important footnotes, Hasen said this:

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Progressive Voices Top Story

The Senate budget: Tax cut addiction leaves NC’s civic core crumbling

So, the question as always comes down to one of vision. The elected chieftains who decide how much money North Carolina’s state government will spend, what it will be spent on and how it will be raised must decide not only which programs and services will thrive and which will dwindle. They must decide to what degree the people of this state are truly a community, with an obligation to provide for the common good in the best interests of 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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Progressive Voices Top Story

North Carolina is not alone: The Right’s nationwide assault on state judiciaries

In the past few months, North Carolinians have seen our General Assembly make national news several times. At least a couple of those times were due to the continuing and shameless partisan assaults on the independence of our courts.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump, NC conservative leaders to eastern NC: “Drop dead”

Hurricane Matthew non-response sets a new low when it comes to basics of governing

With the increasingly precarious situation in which he finds his presidency vis a vis the inquiries of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one would think that Donald Trump might well be taking any and all steps available to cozy up to the Committee’s chairman, North Carolina’s Richard Burr. Weirdly, however, no such actions were in evidence last week when it came to one of the most basic components of running the federal government – meting out disaster relief funds.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Still on the books and still unjust

Death penalty spree in Arkansas provides sobering reminder that NC’s system remains fatally flawed

Since Arkansas shocked the world by trying to execute eight people in 10 days just to beat the expiration date on its lethal drugs, there has been more talk about the death penalty in North Carolina.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The last line of defense against Trumpism is under fire

The Right lays siege to the federal and state courts

“What can we do?” For six months now, caring and thinking Americans have been asking that question a lot as they have anticipated and then stared into the dark abyss that is the presidency of Donald Trump.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Court fines and fees: Another barrier to North Carolina’s ballot box

How much money do you have to pay before you cast your ballot on Election Day?

For most North Carolinians, the answer might seem obvious: none. As the cornerstone of our democracy, voting is supposed to be fair, accessible – and free. But for an increasing number of North Carolinians, the right to vote can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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