The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File


This week’s edition of the Follies comes in the form of ten questions raised by the week’s events in Raleigh.

1) Why are members of the majority in the House and Senate being so disrespectful of former President Ronald Reagan, who many of the lawmakers claim as their personal political hero?

The Senate voted this week to give final approval to a bill to reduce the state Earned Income Tax Credit and allow it to expire completely at the end of the year. The House has already approved the bill and it is now on the way to the governor.

Reagan called the federal EITC the “best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

And it’s one of the best to come out the General Assembly. The state EITC was created by state lawmakers in 2007.

It now provides help for more that 900,000 low-wage workers in the state every year. House and Senate leaders would apparently rather not help them—or be loyal to Reagan’s legacy.

2) Why in the world would MetLife, Inc. be bringing 2,600 jobs to North Carolina and praising the state for its “strong business climate, access to universities and colleges and the desirable cost of living?”

Governor McCrory, legislative leaders, and the think tanks on the right tell us every day that North Carolina’s business climate is one of the worst in the Southeast and that’s why we need to cut taxes and slash regulations.

It’s part of the “everything in North Carolina is broken” claim that is now a standard Republican talking point. The same folks also continue to push for deeper cuts and major changes in operations in the university system.

Apparently executives at MetLife disagree.

3) Speaking of MetLife, what happened to McCrory’s campaign pledge not to use up-front cash incentives to recruit out of state companies to North Carolina? Candidate McCrory consistently criticized the Perdue Administration for its economic development efforts and for using cash incentives like the ones that were part of the MetLife deal.

The MetLife recruitment began last summer during the Perdue Administration when McCrory was constantly repeating the “everything is broken” mantra. Good thing the MetLife executives didn’t listen.

4) The House will hold a public hearing about voter ID legislation Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 which begs the question, what time are the public hearings for legislation that will deny health care to 500,000 people or the bill that will deny emergency federal unemployment benefits to 170,000 laid off workers?

Oh wait, both those measures have already passed and been signed in secret by Governor McCrory without any public hearings.

5) How long before the next charter school scandal and will it finally force the State Board of Education and the General Assembly to slow down the massive expansion of charter schools in the state?

This week the board rescinded its earlier approval of a charter school after NC Policy Watch reported that school officials had plagiarized their application. Shouldn’t state officials be finding these problems?

Then there is Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem that is running a basketball factory complete with international players funded by North Carolina taxpayers. Education officials investigated the school and found serious problems with its operations but never followed up and then granted another charter to the schools CEO.

6) Why do the Republican legislative leaders refuse to listen to experts even when they are colleagues?

Rep. Rick Catlin, a conservative Republican member of the House who is also a hydro geologist and environmental engineer, said this week that current plans to dispose of the waste produced by fracking for natural gas would be a terrible idea and contaminate an aquifer forever.

But legislation to set up the permitting process for fracking is steaming ahead in the General Assembly with all questions and objections shunned aside.

7) What happened to all the claims that recent cuts to education didn’t amount to much and that North Carolina public schools are adequately funded?

First came the news that thanks to the cuts in the last few years, North Carolina now ranks 48th in the nation in per pupil education funding. This week the State Board of Education heard a report that the state currently ranks 46th in teacher pay and that most teachers can work for 15 years and still not make $40,000 a year.

8) What is an “extreme background check” for gun purchases? The House Rules Committee recently passed a resolution opposing any federal measures to reduce gun violence.

Among the “infringements” the resolution lists is something called an extreme background check, presumably referring to President Obama’s proposal for universal background checks, which the NRA supported ten years ago.

Apparently making sure that people who are buying gun are eligible to do so is now extreme.

9) Speaking of guns, is there a dumber idea than allowing people to bring loaded handguns into places where people are drinking? The House passed a plan last session to allow guns in bars and restaurants and several lawmakers are trying again this year.

10) What secret messages did Lt. Gov. Dan Forest see in today’s News & Observer headlines?

Rob Schofield reported this week that Forest told the John Locke Foundation Monday that the N&O plants hidden messages in its news headlines to advance an agenda and that the practice somehow threatens the First Amendment.

Has anybody broken today’s secret code?