- Our Party
The Raleigh Report
From the Office of Representative Verla Insko
June 13, 2013
House Passes Budget Bill:
After 11 hours of debate and votes on more than 25 amendments, the Republican Majority passed a budget today by a vote of 77 to 40. The final vote comes three weeks after the Senate voted on their budget. The bill now goes to a conference committee for final negotiations. While, I did not support the Republican budget, as it did not support middle class values, I do believe the House version will not be as harmful to our economy and community as the Senate version.
Areas Most Harmed by the House Budget Bill:
- No pay raises for teachers and also eliminates raises for educators who have advanced degrees
- Diverts $50 million away from public schools and invests it into education vouchers for private and religious schools
- Eliminates teacher assistants in elementary schools
- Reduces community college funding by nearly $25 million
- No expansion of Medicaid services provided to middle class families
- Changes the eligibility requirements of Pre-K classrooms and affects at-risk students from receiving a proper early childhood education
- Completely defunds minority and community economic development initiatives with proven track records of job creation
- Places modest funds ($13 million over two years) into the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, as opposed to the $100 million investment in clean water that were previously made
A Medicaid expansion will bring more than $15 billion in federal funds to the state, boosting spending in local economies and employment. Regional Economic Model estimates that Medicaid expansion will create 25,000 new jobs by 2016 and the News and Observer reported that the indirect cost of expanding Medicaid could create a multiplier effect of 23,000 health-care jobs.
A recent study shows that a Medicaid expansion of 500,000 people would prevent 2,840 deaths per year.
However, the Majority Party is still refusing to expand Medicaid. A Medicaid expansion is good for our economy, our families, and our state. I will continue to urge my colleagues to accept Federal funding for a Medicaid expansion.
House Passes Tax Bill:
The Republican Majority also passed their tax bill Monday night. The Republican Majority’s tax proposal benefits the top 5 percent of income earners while hurting the bottom 95 percent. The personal income tax cut disproportionately benefits the top income earners; in fact, on average, more than a third of the total income tax cut goes to those with incomes averaging $940,000. In order to pay for the wealthiest citizens tax cuts, the state will pay over $1.6 billion in the next five years. This loss in revenue comes directly at the expense of our children, schools, community services and economic investments.
SB 515: Jordan Lake Rules repeal slows in N.C. House
The repeal of clean water rules expected to require major upgrades to city water systems, as well as new costs for builders, has slowed in the state House of Representatives. The state Senate voted earlier this month to repeal the Jordan Lake Rules, and then take a year to study new rules. That would ease pending regulations for some cities and developers, including those in Greensboro and Burlington, in an effort to improve water quality in the Triangle.
Thank you for all your support. Please contact me when I can be of assistance or to comment on bills or make suggestions
Just when we thought the University was safe, the House budget cuts $125 million next year and $67 million the following year. In a novel move, the House would require marginal students to attend two years of community college before admission to a full university.
Thankfully, Orange Correctional is not on the prison closing list. And in a smart move, they funded the NC Rural Economic Development Center, one of the most popular rural programs in the state with a very popular and effective director, Billy Ray Hall.
Why should a taxpayer who owes no tax or is due a refund be penalized for filing one day late? Well, a bill passed by the Senate would do just that. It would charge $100 if a person is late filing their North Carolina personal income tax, even when none is due or a refund is to be paid to the taxpayer. One has to wonder how many people the Republicans are trying to anger. Add ordinary taxpayers to all the other constituencies who are rightfully angry at the Republican-controlled legislature.
The Common Core educational standards were developed by a consortium of 48 states, led by their governors and chief state school officers. In 2010, the North Carolina Board of Education became an early adopter of the the new Common Core educational standards as part of our state’s Standard Course of Study. This giant step forward has become a lightning rod for the radical right, including Glenn Beck and our own Lt. Governor Dan Forest, as an attack on the 10th amendment and that Common Core is a federal take-over of public education.
These standards came out of several years of discussions and analysis with the Council of State School Officers and the National Governors Association to develop a more rigorous set of educational standards and to bring states in-line with a set of common core educational standards.
The Common Core is an updating of the state’s curriculum standards to reflect a changing world and economy. Part of this initiative is funded by the federal government’s Race to the Top program, thereby enhancing the ability of the state to implement these new standards as part of Superintendent June Atkinson's educational remodeling efforts.
Today, 45 states have adopted these standards championed by governors and state school officers from across the political spectrum. These standards were developed utilizing research and evidence in learning for math and English/language arts. The standards seek to offer consistency across the United States, up the rigor of North Carolina’s schools, prepare students for college and the work force and to make America’s students more competitive in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Additionally, state standards differ dramatically when it comes to end of course examinations. In 2006, Mississippi had 91% of its students passed a math exam on the first attempt. Yet that same year only 60% of students graduated high school. Compare that to Arizona where 65% of students passed a math exam on the first attempt, but 73% of its students graduated that year. Under the old system it is too hard to compare each state with such varying degrees of accountability and standards. With Common Core and with many states sharing one curriculum, North Carolina can develop shared assessments with other states as well as more accurately compare our student performance to those of other states.
What is important to highlight is that the Common Core program is not a program designed by the federal government nor constitutes a federal take-over of educational programs by the federal government as each state tailors these standards to meet their own needs with local LEAs and parents implementing those standards at the local level. What it does seek to accomplish is a state-based educational standards system that reduces discrepancies from state to state. For example, a child who moves from Des Moines, Iowa to Cherokee, North Carolina should be able to enter a new classroom without falling behind because of different standards.
Simply put the Common Core curriculum provides equity across state lines in the quality of the public school curriculum. But don't just take my word for it. Recently Superintendent Atkinson told News and Observer: "How can people argue against teaching North Carolina students to read, write, speak and listen? How could that be of the devil? How can that be bad for kids? I am so disappointed people would want to make this a political football."
06/27/2013 7:00 pm
06/27/2013 9:00 pm
co-sponsored by OCDW and OCDP
JUNE 27, DURHAM TECH/HILLSBOROUGH CAMPUS
Waterstone Drive, 7-9pm
A DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED CHANGES TO JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: PARTISAN IDENTIFICATION OF CANDIDATES AND DISCONTINUATION OF PUBLIC FUNDING FOR CANDIDATES' CAMPAIGNS.
PANELISTS: Adam Stein, Alderperson Lydia Lavelle, Appeals Court Judge Mark Davis
MODERATOR: Judge Patricia Devine
For background info on these issues, see:
Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police and District Attorneys oppose proposal to move SBI under executive branch
Raleigh: Moving the State Bureau of Investigation would compromise its independence and jeopardize its quick response to local safety concerns, Attorney General Roy Cooper and law enforcement from across the state said Monday.
A North Carolina Senate budget proposal issued late Sunday would remove most of the SBI from the NC Department of Justice and place it in the NC Department of Public Safety, an executive branch agency under the Governor.
“For over 75 years, the SBI has provided a check on power and no matter who controls the state Legislature, the Governor’s office or the Attorney General’s office, this system works best,” Cooper said. “Putting the SBI under any Governor’s administration increases the risk that corruption and cover up occur with impunity.”
Cooper called the Senate’s plan to keep four or five people in the Attorney General’s Office to handle public corruption cases a “fig leaf” to cover the move away from independence that would severely cripple investigations that typically include agents from several parts of the SBI. Over the past decade, SBI agents have investigated more than 500 public officials, including the past two governors’ administrations, a House speaker, legislators, the Department of Public Safety which includes the Highway Patrol, Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and other Executive Branch agencies.
Cooper stood with more than a dozen Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police, District Attorneys and other local law enforcement officers to oppose the move at a news conference this morning.
“The SBI comes in with an attitude that says, ‘We’re here to help,’” said Apex Chief of Police John Letteney, head of the NC Association of Chiefs of Police. “They’re able to quickly respond to the needs of police across the state.”
Letteney noted that moving the SBI could jeopardize the quick response police have come to depend on from the SBI.
“The current structure provides the quick response that is so much needed by local Sheriffs to address emergent trends,” said Sheriff Michael L. Welch of Caswell County, who also said that the NC Sheriffs’ Association opposes moving the SBI. “Throughout my career, I’ve had the fortunate experience to be able to call upon the SBI and receive a quick response, expertise and technology.”
“The best thing to do is keep the SBI where it is independent and we have confidence in the work that it does,” said Colon Willoughby, District Attorney for Wake County, who has prosecuted many public corruption cases investigated by the SBI. “No one is putting their thumb on the scales to influence how an investigation turns out.”
Willoughby noted that many SBI investigations over the past years have led back to executive branch agencies under the Governor, including the Department of Public Safety.