Author: Charles Walsh

  • H.B. 748: Roll Out the Red Tape

    House Bill 748, “Citizen’s United Response,” affirms the 5-to-4 landmark United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, declaring that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. All the while, HB 748 also creates stringent regulations on independent expenditures.

  • S.B. 1396: $100,000 Biofuels Go-Kart Competition

    “Funds for low-cost green technology education,” S.B. 1396, which is sponsored by Sen. Garrou (D- Forsyth) and Sen. Brunstetter (R- Forsyth), would appropriate $100,000 dollars for the creation of a biofuels go-kart competition for North Carolina high school students. This bill has two stated objectives, to “increase [students] empirical understanding of environmentally responsible technology” and […]

  • H.B. 1403 “Collect DNA Sample on Arrest”: What They’re Not Saying

    Legislators who support H.B. 1403, sponsored by Reps. Wil Neumann (R-Gaston), Pearl Burris-Floyd (R-Gaston), Darrell McCormick (R-Yadkin) and Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), which would require the collection of DNA upon arrest for all felonies and certain misdemeanors, have only focused on how it would exonerate the innocent.

  • N.C. House’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Natural and Economic Resources

    Much like the Senate's Natural and Economic Resources (NER) Budget, the House NER Budget plan contains several large expansions that are "nonrecurring", or one-time added expenditures. The House proposal reflects an astounding 9.8 percent expansion from last year's authorized spending plan for 2010-11. The primary focus of the House NER Budget expansions is on economic development, notably in the One North Carolina Fund, Main Street Solutions program, the Biotechnology Center, Homegrown Jobs, and the Regional Economic Development Commissions. There is also a significant expansion in the budget for the NC Biofuels Center. In addition to these expenditures, the House Budget calls for nearly $11 million to be raided from special funds and moved to the General Fund. These special funds include the Mercury Pollution Prevention Fund, the Aquariums Fund, the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund, and the Wildlife Resources Commission. There are several key differences between the House NER Budget and the Senate NER Budget. The Senate Budget did not include any of the provisions from special funds or the $2 million for Main Street Solutions that were proposed by the House. The House proposal would appropriate $9 million for the One North Carolina Fund, which is $6 million less than what the Senate budgeted. Also, the House did not include the $12 million appropriation for Lab-to-Market Funds/Commercialization that was included in the Senate NER Budget. Lab-to-Market Funds would go to technology development companies to expedite the process of getting new products on the market. Significant expansions and reductions include: Expansions: $9 million to the One North Carolina Fund $2 million to Main Street Solutions. This is one of the Governor's new programs that provides grants to small business owners in downtown districts of small communities. $5 million to NC Biofuels Center $4.3 million to operating funds for the Biotechnology Center $3.1 million to Homegrown Jobs, as recommended in both the Governor's and the Senate's budget proposal. This provides additional funding for the Rural Center's Building Reuse and Restoration program as well as funding for small-scale regional community development projects. $5 million to Regional Economic Development Commissions, this amount is equal to that called for in the Senate plan and roughly twice the expansion requested by Perdue. Reductions: Operating Costs and Position Eliminations in most departments $1 million from the sale of Forest Resources Aircraft $2.5 million from the operating budget of NC Aquariums $800,000 from transferring the Executive Aircraft Division within the Department of Commerce to the Aviation Division within the Department of Transportation. This transfer was approved in the Senate Budget as well.

  • N.C. House’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Justice and Public Safety

    The House budget plan would reduce overall Justice and Public Safety (JPS) Budget by about 3 percent compared to the spending plan put in place last year. As with the Senate JPS Budget, the majority of appropriations shifting occurs within the Department of Corrections, the largest department in JPS. The largest reductions come from inmate medical costs and a lower-than-projected inmate population. The most significant difference between the House and Senate JPS budgets is that the House allocates to the Department of Corrections about $12 million less than the Senate to correct for an inmate population now projected to be lower than the estimates used last when the two-year budget plan was put in place. Corrections, however, would see an increase of 803 full-time positions under the House budget. Two other notable discrepancies between the House and Senate budgets are the $3.5 million expansion in the House Budget to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center, which is absent from the Senate Budget, and the $2.35 million in the Senate Budget to expand prisoner education not included in the House Budget. Significant expansions and reductions include: Expansions: $9.77 million to the operating reserves at the Central and Women Prisons' hospitals as requested in the Governor's budget proposal $3.5 million to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center. This is an alternative correctional facility for juvenile offenders. $2.2 million to restore the Sentencing Services program as requested in both the Governor's and Senate's spending plans Reductions: $27.2 million from the Department of Corrections because of lower than expected inmate population $20.5 million from linking inmate medical costs to a fee schedule based on rates authorized by Medicaid. This reduction was included in the Senate's and Governor Perdue's proposals $5.75 million from the Private Assigned Counsel (PAC) program. PAC consists of private legal counsel who have been assigned to provide indigent legal services. This reduction was also included in the Senate Budget. $5 million from the technology services program and administration budgets of the Judicial Department. This too was included in the Senate Budget.

  • N.C. House’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: General Government

    The General Government Budget would be reduced by 0.7 percent in the House proposal. The majority of the reductions are reflected in operating budgets and position eliminations or transfers within most departments. The largest expansion in the General Government Budget is granted to the Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services. Additional expansions occurred within the NC Museum of Art, the Military Morale and Welfare fund, a grant for the NC Symphony, and the Governor’s proposed Good Government Package. The overall reduction of the House General Government Budget was less than the Senate proposed. Notable expansions included in the House Budget but not in the Senate’s plan include $1.4 million in appropriations for the new North Carolina Museum of Art building, $500,000 more for the Military Morale and Welfare Fund, and a $500,000 grant for the NC Symphony. Meanwhile, the Senate Budget contained reductions to the Rape Crisis Program and Local Library Grants that the House Budget did not include. Significant expansions and reductions include: Expansions: $9.5 million for Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services (CJLEADS). The program is designed to integrate “criminal justice information” into a centralized system. This expansion is in agreement with Perdue and Senate plans $1.4 million for a new North Carolina Museum of Art Building $450,000 for the Governor’s Good Government Package: this would be used to develop software that would make reporting on campaign finances more efficient and reliable for candidates. $547,600 to increase funding for the State Ethics Commission. This is also part of Perdue’s Good Government Package. $500,000 for the Military Morale and Welfare Fund $500,000 grant for NC Symphony Reductions: Operating budgets in every department are reduced along with position eliminations/transfers in almost every department $525,903 from the Home Protection Program under the Housing Finance Agency, in anticipation that these funds will be replaced with federal funds. The Program offers interest-free loans from the state to people who have lost their jobs. The loans are to be used to pay mortgage payments and other related expenses like homeowner's insurance during a temporary period of time. This is a smaller reduction than proposed by the Senate.

  • North Carolina’s FY 2010-11 State Budget: Natural and Economic Resources

    The General Assembly’s final Natural and Economic Resources (NER) budget reflects legislators’ plan to spend the state out of the recession. This budget received a shocking 13.3 percent expansion over last year’s budgeted spending.

  • North Carolina’s FY 2010-11 State Budget: Justice and Public Safety

    The overall Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget was reduced by about 3 percent compared to the spending plan put in place as the second year of the two-year budget approved last year.

  • North Carolina’s FY 2010-11 State Budget: General Government

    The General Government budget appropriates essentially the same amount of funds compared to the amount tentatively scheduled for use in the second year of the two-year budget plan approved last year, with only a 0.2 percent reduction. As with the proposed Senate and House General Government budgets, the reductions largely result from operating budget cuts and position eliminations and transfers.

  • S.B. 1113 and S.B. 1114: Contracts Available – Call Your Friends!

    These bills – Senate Bills (SB) 1113 and 1114 – Carrboro Energy Efficiency/Renewable and Chapel Hill Energy Efficiency/Renewable sponsored by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange, Person) grant the city council's of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, respectively, the ability to engage in "no-bid" contracts.

  • N.C. Senate’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Justice & Public Safety

    The Department of Justice and Public Safety (JPS) would see a 3.8% reduction in its budget if the Senate's budget passed as it currently stands. The majority of the expansions and reductions occur within the Department of Corrections, which is the largest department in JPS. Many of the shifts in allocation of funds occurred in the budgets dealing with inmate medical matters...

  • N.C. Senate’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: General Government

    The North Carolina Senate's 2010-11 budget recommends a reduction in spending for General Government operations. If the budget were passed as it currently is proposed, there would be a 1.3% reduction in the 2010-11 General Government budget approved in last year's two-year budget plan. Nearly every department saw significant reductions in operating expenses as well as position eliminations...

  • N.C. Senate’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Natural and Economic Resources

    The North Carolina Senate's budget recommendations for FY 2010-11 include several large increases for the Department of Natural and Economic Resources (NER), most of which would be one-time "nonrecurring" expansions. The focus of the proposed NER budget is on economic development, with large amounts of taxpayer dollars going to the One North Carolina Fund, Lab-to-Market Funding/Commercialization, Regional Economic Development Commissions, and Home Grown Jobs...