Fitzsimon File

Fitzsimon File

Fitzsimon File Top Story

Sorry Republicans, facts matter—in Raleigh and in Washington

It’s not an original thought to point out that the Trump Administration is a larger version of what has been happening in North Carolina for the last seven years, a takeover by far-right ideologues hell-bent on dismantling the fundamental institutions of the government they lead, without regard to the suffering their decisions will inflict on the people they are supposed to represent.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

5.0---percentage of overall state spending in the 2017-2018 budget passed by the General Assembly as a share of the state’s economy (“New Budget, Same Missed Opportunities for North Carolina,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, July 2017)

4.9---percentage of overall state spending in the 2018-2019 budget passed by the General Assembly as a share of the state’s economy (Ibid)

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

A nonpartisan confirmation of the dangerous new normal in North Carolina

State legislative leaders this week dismissed a report by their own nonpartisan legislative staff showing the latest round of tax changes will create a budget shortfall of more than a billion dollars in two years, growing to $1.4 billion two years after that.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

41---percentage of North Carolina municipalities that experienced a population decline from 2010 to 2016 (“Examining Decline in North Carolina’s Municipalities,” Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, July 5, 2017)

35---percentage of North Carolina municipalities that experienced growth lower than 6.4 percent, the overall state growth rate since 2010

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers: Summing up the Senate healthcare debate

22 million---number of people the Congressional Budget Office says would lose health insurance coverage under the health care plan currently being considered by the U.S. Senate (“CBO: Senate Bill Would Raise Premiums, Deductibles, or Both for Most Marketplace Consumers, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 26, 2017)

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Fitzsimon File

The gloomy, blustery and vindictive session drawing to a close

As the 2017 General Assembly session draws to a close, reporters, pundits and partisans will all soon be putting their session wrap-ups together, reminding us all of what has happened in the last six months at the Legislative Building in Raleigh. It would be a mistake to start the review in January when the session formally convened. This session really started a month before that, in December when Republicans adjourned a special session called for hurricane relief and immediately convened another one---with no notice or warning---to take power away from newly elected Governor Roy Cooper who would be sworn into office a few weeks later.

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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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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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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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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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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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Fitzsimon File Top Story

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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