Battle lines forming after state budget signed

August 9, 2009

By Benjamin Niolet
Posted: Sunday, Aug. 09, 2009

RALEIGH After seven months, 27,000 bills, 460 new laws and a $19billion state budget, lawmakers are ready to go home.

But they have to wonder if they will find the welcome mat waiting for them.

The 2009 legislative session is expected to come to an official close early this week. But for Democrats, who have long controlled state politics, the session’s end represents the start of a long and important season.

All 170 seats in the House and Senate will be up for grabs next year, and the party in control after the polls close will be in a powerful position. That’s because, in 2011, the legislature will redraw legislative and congressional district lines that will help the party in power solidify its grip on power for the next decade.
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Hagan backs Obama budget, but not section on international aid

May 12, 2009

Published: May 13, 2009

RALEIGH – U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said yesterday that she would like to cut the amount of international aid provided in President Obama’s budget plan, but she largely praised the proposal as fiscally responsible even though it shatters records with a deficit of more than $1.8 trillion.

Hagan, a former state budget writer, said she opposed Obama’s plan to cut $400 million out of a program that helps law-enforcement agencies offset the cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. Her only proposed cut was to international aid, and she largely praised increased spending on teachers and rural health care.

“President Obama is making a serious effort to rein in the fiscal irresponsibility which has plagued us for too long by cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term,” Hagan said in a written statement. 


**NOTE** – Umm, I’ll have the anti-freeze without the arsenic please.

Sen. Steve Goss calls for ….more studying *sigh*

April 2, 2009

Grandparents seek law granting visitation rights
By Elizabeth G. Cook

The charms on Miriam Preiser’s necklace stand for her 19 grandchildren, and she has tied red ribbons on three.

Those three represent the grandchildren Preiser hasn’t been able to visit since 2000, when her daughter divorced the children’s father and did not get visitation rights.

In effect, Preiser lost visitation rights, too.

Once again Steve Goss doesn’t know what to do.  This time he’s decided to spend your tax dollars to poll the people that elected him to make decisions.  Could he just be blowing smoke? Lazy Liberal Steve Goss taxpayer dollar waster super study extraordinaire! 

Perdue says staff just looks big

March 30, 2009

As of February, it was larger and more expensive than that of ex-Gov. Mike Easley.
By Rob Christensen – Staff Writer

Published: Mon, Mar. 30, 2009 02:00am

RALEIGH — Gov. Beverly Perdue is asking most of state government to pull in its belt, but her own office has not gone on any such austerity diet.

Perdue’s staff has remained roughly the same size as that of her predecessor, Gov. Mike Easley, according to state personnel records.

If Easley jumped off a bridge, would you?  We hope.

Vehicle Project Seeks $18 Million Jump Start From Taxpayers

March 26, 2009

Public sources have sunk $17 million into struggling northeastern center

By Don Carrington
March 04, 2009
Story photo

RALEIGH — Supporters of a struggling state-funded vehicle research center in Northampton County are seeking an additional $18.2 million from state taxpayers. Since the center’s inception in 2005, the General Assembly and other public sources have committed $17 million to the project. 

Rep. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, introduced a bill Feb. 12 that would send another $18.2 mi llion to the project over the next two fiscal years. The bill designates $1.9 million for operating costs and the remainder for continued construction costs. State Sen. Ed Jones, D–Halifax, introduced an identical bill in the Senate.

The project, N.C. Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR), was known until April 2007 as the N.C. Advanced Vehicle Research Center. NCCAR is organized as a nonprofit, and Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown serves as president.

“NCCAR plans to be an independent, non-profit center devised to meet the ever-evolving product research, testing and development demands of the automotive industry,” according to its Web site. The 625-acre site, just off Interstate 95 outside Roanoke Rapids, is to include a 4.6-mile test track, advanced laboratory, and client garages.
*SIDENOTE – I  know this is a bit late, but its a good read from the John Locke Foundation. *

Perdue’s Budget

March 19, 2009

Published: March 19, 2009

When governments need more money, they turn to sin taxes as an easy option. Gov. Bev Perdue has done that in a big way by proposing an unprecedented $500 million tax increase on cigarettes and alcohol.

Perdue faced an enormous challenge in compiling a budget this year, given that state revenues will fall $3.4 billion below expectations. When such an enormous shortfall develops, everyone should sacrifice, including the tobacco industry. That is especially so because cigarettes create health costs for their users that the state helps pay.

N.C. considers sales tax on digital products

January 28, 2009

N.C. may apply sales tax to music, books, software and that distinctive phone ring.

By Mark Johnson
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009
N.C. legislature: Big goals, little money
Downloading that Miley Cyrus hit from Wal-Mart for 94 cents might soon cost about another 7 cents. A Beyonce ringtone purchased from a cell phone company may get tagged a few extra cents, too.

The money wouldn’t go to the musicians or their record companies. It would go to the state of North Carolina.

N.C. legislators moved closer Tuesday to applying the state sales tax – 6.75 cents in most counties and 7.25 in Mecklenburg – to products that are delivered digitally, such as music, books, ringtones and software downloaded to a computer.

The tax would apply only to products that already are taxed when they are in a more tangible form. In other words, if customers pay tax on a Lil Wayne CD from the music store at the mall, then they’ll pay tax when they buy his songs from an online music vendor.

“It’s reacting to electronic realities,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat who is co-chairman of a legislative committee that overwhelmingly recommended a bill Tuesday to impose the ringtone tax.

Vendors will collect the tax only if they have a physical presence in the state, such as a retail outlet like Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Apple stores may qualify as a toehold in the state for the company’s online iTunes store, and other vendors may have computer server farms or other network installations.

Otherwise, it’s up to the consumer to pay voluntarily.

As many as 17 states, including Alabama and Tennessee, have asserted the authority to tax digital products.

Digital service companies oppose the tax. Steve Kranz, a Washington lawyer who represents digital vendors around the country, said such taxes may drive companies out of the state. Because they don’t need a retail store or warehouse, it’s easier for them to move.

“It sends a message to the digital vendor community,” Kranz said, “that North Carolina is on the ‘do not call list’ for locating their companies.”

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Stam wants to start over on the state budget

January 28, 2009

Stam wants to start over on the state budget
Published: Wed, Jan. 28, 2009 12:30AMModified Wed, Jan. 28, 2009 02:23AM

State Rep. Paul Stam of Apex says the legislature should start from scratch.
Given a potential $2 billion shortfall in tax revenue, the House Republican leader says the legislature should use zero-based budgeting.

Traditionally, the budget is based on incremental increases or decreases from the previous year’s budget. But Stam argues that legislators should do a wholesale rewrite of the state budget, looking at each expense.

“We need to go back and see if the stuff we added in decades ago is still working,” he said.
In addition, Stam wants to know whether the state’s Medicaid program has the controls in place to determine whether providers and recipients are eligible to receive payments. That could save several hundred million dollars, he said.

On other issues, he expects the legislature to rehash old debates about whether to restrict smoking in public places, how to protect schoolchildren from bullying and whether to reinstate the death penalty, along with less controversial issues.

“Ninety percent of legislation is not partisan,” he said. “It’s often common sense — or common nonsense.”

State budget could go $3B in red in fiscal 2010

November 12, 2008

Raleigh, N.C. — State agencies have already started trimming their budgets to deal with the struggling economy, but an independent analyst said Tuesday that officials might have to make deep cuts next year.