Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.By James Harrison

Budgets, elections, North Carolina—what’s not to love? Here’s hoping this week’s Hit List brings butterflies to your heart and a smile to your face.

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

Budget breakthrough

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!

NYT, baby

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!

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for Nooga.com, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

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5 Comments

  1. Medicaid is getting cut because of Obamacare. On one end people clamor for it then complain when cuts in other areas are used to pay for it. The sham needs to be shutdown.

    Here’s a better idea, get your own insurance through competition. Because I’m tired of paying for Chico and his 4 kids at the checkout line with their carts full of junk via EBT on one end and his heart problems on the other. You know, overpopulation and all that the left continues to talk about. But boy oh boy they sure have no problems paying for tons of kids from other nations. That breed like rabbits and come here and are placed directly on the dole by our own government. Go get your Medicaid from them and also your teachers salaries and all your other needs as not well. Because they’re the ones taking money from you.

    You people are depending on a government that’s 18 trillion in debt to keep you in good graces. Good luck with that especially as they pass on their debts to the states. And with your low wage complaints, yet ignore and even cheer on as they dilute the population with unskilled labor that is going to keep wages down. After all, there’s only so many jobs to go around and the progressives who’ve suddenly found God in proclaiming how we must be compassionate now, are the same one’s stealing taxpayers money because that’s they only way they can survive. It’s a good way to make a living so long as the rackets keeps going. But with monetizing of Wall Street who’s fundamentals are sorely lacking, the bubble will burst sooner than most realize.

  2. Notably, it leaves potential changes to Medicaid on the table

    Or, as Tom Apodaca said to his hometown newspaper: “we’re going to take the politics out of it”.

    Read: “We’re going to slash the hell out of Medicaid, but not until after the election, when it’s too late for you to hold us accountable for it.”

    • Seriously, the frikkin’ balls of that statement: “we’re going to take the politics out of it”.

      “Locally, Reps. Moffitt, Ramsey, McGrady and I will be cutting access to Medicaid for you and whatever family members that we feel are not worthy of assistance. (Sorry about your aunt dying on your couch, BTW).

      But we think you are too stupid to see that that what’s coming. Vote for us, ’cause you know… gays!!!

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