Board of Commissioners campaign season kicks off
Voters will have a full ballot before them this November, including a handful of races for seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. An eager audience got the chance to hear from a few of the candidates this week, at a forum Wednesday hosted by the Council of Independent Business Owners. The occasion offered a preview of the campaign season to come, with opponents in District 2 and District 3 facing off. Of note was the exchange between Miranda DeBruhl and write-in candidateNancy Waldrop, the wife of current Commissioner David King, whom DeBruhl defeated this spring. For a recap of the event (or to watch the whole thing on video), see this report in Mountain Xpress.
Is this actually happening? House and Senate leaders announced last weekend they had reached a framework for a budget deal—nearly a month after it should have been passed. The General Assembly could adjourn their short session as early as Saturday. To mark the occasion, state Rep. Tim Moffitt cranked a tune by the Foggy Mountain Boys. The $21.1 billion plan, filed Wednesday, includes a 7 percent pay raise for teachers (at a cost of $282 million), and preserves positions for teacher’s assistants. It also trims budgets for several social service programs. Notably, it leaves potential changes to Medicaid on the table, and calls for a possible “special session” after November elections to address the issue. So we may get to relive it all again! Raleigh news station WRAL has an excellent roundup of what’s in the 280-page document, or if you’re really hardcore, you can read the thing for yourself here.
Gauging local impact
Curious what the budget could mean for our neck of the woods? Carolina Public Press has the answer. Among specific provisions for the region in the financial plan are $2 million for a new roof at the Ag Center, funds for expansion of the Asheville branch of the state Department of Revenue, and $100,000 for paving improvements at the Farmer’s Market. Yee haw!
Raleigh continues to draw the gaze of national news outlets. This week saw not one, but two front-page stories in the New York Times devoted to politics in the Tar Heel state. The first harks on a familiar theme to followers of state politics—division among Republicans following their revolutionary rise to supermajorities in the House and Senate and control of the Governor’s Mansion. The second, prompted by this month’s poet laureate flap, takes a look at how other states and cities honor their poets.
Cooper clears the way for undoing Amendment One
Following a ruling Monday by the U.S. Court of Appeals striking down Virginia’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage, stateAttorney General Roy Cooper said he would not intervene to uphold a similar ban in North Carolina. In comments to the press, Cooper expressed confidence that one day, the state’s controversial Amendment One (approved by voters in 2012) would “almost surely be overturned.” The announcement made waves across the state, drawing comments across from politicians in all sectors. The issue will likely play a factor in 2016’s gubernatorial election, for which, if you recall, Cooper is already positioning himself to run as the Democratic alternative against Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory.
No go on ALEC for McCrory
Speaking of the guv, remember his plans to speak this week at the annual meeting of the American Legeslative Exchange Council—better known as “ALEC”? That appearance was scrubbed, so McCrory could stay in Raleigh to “handle budget negotiations,” according to his spokesman.
Film incentives extension on the way
Meanwhile, House members approved an amendment Thursday to extend a state film incentives program another year. The program was set to expire at the end of 2014, and there had been talk of not renewing it, even as the state saw an estimated $268 million in direct-in-state spending on film projects (according to a Charlotte Observer report). The total exceeds the amount of spending on movies the state saw at the same point last year, and we’re pretty sure the figure doesn’t even include “Loomis Fargo.”
Turner charges Moffitt with tax-hike
First Bele Chere is cancelled, now this. There ain’t gonna be no sales tax holiday this year, folks, and Brian Turner is gonna make sure you know it. On Thursday Turner went after state Rep. Tim Moffitt on the matter, arguing that Moffitt’s past support of a bill eliminating the holiday is the equivalent of enacting a tax-hike on working families. And he may have a point—according to the state Department of Revenue, North Carolinians save somewhere in the neighborhood of $14.7 million on the holiday (mostly on items like clothes and school supplies). Moffitt, who backed a bill undoing the tax holiday last year, had yet to rebuff the attack Thursday.
Moral Monday, or McHenry Town Hall?
This Monday, you have options. The office for U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry announced this week the congressman would visit Buncombe County on Aug. 4, for a “town hall” event at Land of the Sky Shrine Club. The event will wrap with plenty of time to spare before Mountain Moral Monday returns to Pack Square at 5 p.m., so who knows, maybe you could do both? Organizers are expecting thousands of people to attend the rally.
Hagan-Tillis steady as she goes
No bombshells this week in the battle for our time, the contest between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and her GOP adversary, stateHouse Speaker Thom Tillis. The race is still insanely expensive, and as always, new ads seem to drop from the sky every other day. It’s safe to expect more action from the trail this week, as Tillis wraps up the short session and devotes the entirety of his time to campaigning across the state. Debates, too!
That’s enough for now! See ya later this week!