BlueNC's blog

Saturday News: No justice, no peace


HUNDREDS GATHER TO PROTEST UNC'S LACK OF RACIAL EQUITY: Saying “this fight is not new,” more than 200 UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, alumni and others gathered Friday to protest the university’s failure to grant tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as what they say is a larger lack of support for Black faculty and students. Taliajah Vann, president of the campus Black Student Movement, said racial issues on campus are bigger than the tenure of Hannah-Jones. Vann cited too few Black faculty and a lack of support for Black students on campus. The BSM, which organized Friday’s “solidarity demonstration,” outlined a list of 13 demands for UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, including the removal of police from the residence hall move-in process and increased funding for student mental healthcare.

Friday News: Supporting mediocrity


A HANDFUL OF DEM SENATORS VOTE FOR BERGER'S BLAND BUDGET: The budget, Senate Bill 105, would give an average of 3% raises to teachers and most other state employees over the next two years. It also doles out $5.4 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for coronavirus relief. The budget’s tax cuts include cutting the personal income tax rate to 3.99% by 2026, down from 5.25%, and phasing out the corporate income tax rate to zero. Also, the tax bracket for paying zero taxes, called the standard deduction, would be raised to $25,500. The child tax deduction would increase to $500. It was the first of two votes required to move the bill to the House. The other will be held Friday morning. The four Democrats who voted for the budget are Sen. Paul Lowe, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Don Davis and Sen. Ben Clark.

Thursday News: V is for Veto


REPUBLICAN BILL WOULD STRIP $300 PAYMENTS FROM THE UNEMPLOYED: More than 200,000 North Carolinians receiving $300-per-week federal unemployment benefits will lose that money earlier than planned if Gov. Roy Cooper signs a bill passed Wednesday evening. Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a new version of a bill that they say will help understaffed businesses find more workers. It’s a state-level version of a national discussion over the status of the restaurant and tourism industries and the labor market for those low-paying jobs. “With a severe labor shortage, now is no time to pay people extra money not to work,” said Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Republican from Hendersonville. Edwards, who has several McDonald’s restaurants in western North Carolina, is the Senate’s point person on unemployment issues.

Wednesday News: Tit for tat


GOP BUDGET LEAVES OUT FUNDING FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MONUMENT: “Really? That’s an insult,” Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Guilford County Democrat told The News & Observer on Tuesday. The Senate’s lead budget writer, Autryville Republican Sen. Brent Jackson, said the Senate decided not to put it in the budget this time, even though it had proposed funding the project in a previous year’s proposal and in a different bill last year. “That was discussed, and the decision was since the monuments were being taken down, or they got vandalized during all the protests and they were being taken down on the Capitol square, we just felt like this was not the time to put something back up there of any type,” Jackson told The N&O on Tuesday. It's exactly the time for it.

Tuesday News: Miserly and negligent


NC SENATE'S BUDGET IS A TAX-CUT EXTRAVAGANZA: There would also be bonuses of $1,500 for law enforcement, correctional officers and staff and employees of 24-hour residential and treatment facilities. Additional bonuses across the board, using state funds, would go to teachers, who would get $300, and principals, who would get $1,800, respectively. The budget’s tax cuts include cutting the personal income tax rate to 3.99% by 2026. The current tax rate is 5.25%, and the budget would reduce it to 4.99% in 2022. The budget also includes parts of the same tax-cuts plan the Senate already passed, including phasing out the corporate income tax entirely. There is no cost of living adjustment for retired state employees in the Senate budget.

Monday News: Take your shot


PRESIDENT BIDEN TO PROMOTE VACCINES IN NC: It’s Biden’s first visit to North Carolina since taking office. The visit comes as part of Biden’s “National Month of Action,” a nationwide sprint in June to get 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. But two weeks out from that date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 65% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And in North Carolina, that figure is significantly lower. As of June 18, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports that just 55% of adults in the state have received a dose of the vaccine. Earlier this month, The News & Observer reported that at its current pace, the state will not reach Biden’s vaccine target until November.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


EXPANDING MEDICAID CAN ACTUALLY CUT STATE-FUNDED SPENDING: Even with added spending of about $400 million needed for Medicaid expansion (which the state’s hospitals and other healthcare providers have offered to help shoulder) North Carolina would still be ahead of the game by as much as $500 million. This federal law, passed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, is a real deal for North Carolina taxpayers. Gaining half-a-billion dollars – even amid the budget surpluses the state now enjoys – is significant. It offers the opportunity to invest in other critical needs that have for too long gone unmet – particularly complying with the state’s constitutional guarantee to provide every child in the state with access to a quality education.

Saturday News: Backroom boondoggle


DUKE ENERGY'S SECRET BILL LIKELY HEADED FOR A VETO: Duke Energy and House Republicans say the legislation would lead to a 61% reduction in carbon emissions and diversify the state’s energy sources. But environmental groups and House Democrats have widely criticized the bill, focusing on provisions that mandate using natural gas to replace coal-fired plants at one, and potentially two, power stations. Critics have also said the legislation undermines the N.C. Utilities Commission’s independent decision making. Gov. Roy Cooper released his first statement on the legislation Thursday, saying, “The House Republican energy legislation revealed for the first time this week would cost ratepayers too much, fall short of clean energy goals, hamper job recruitment and weaken the Utilities Commission which exists to provide accountability for utility companies.”

Friday News: Domino effect


BLACK PROFESSORS AT UNC CONTEMPLATE LEAVING OVER TENURE ISSUES: Members of the Carolina Black Caucus took a poll at their regularly scheduled Zoom meeting this week and found that 70% of the about 30 attendees are considering leaving UNC-CH and more than 60% of them are actively looking for other jobs. “It’s been a conversation that we’ve been having for a couple of years,” Field said. “The Nikole Hannah-Jones situation really just brings the issue to the forefront.” UNC-CH has 226 Black or African American full-time faculty members as of Fall 2020, according to a university report. And 69 of them have tenure, which is about 30%. Black and African American faculty members also make up less than 5% of the total tenured faculty. There are more than 4,000 total full-time faculty members at UNC-CH.

Thursday News: Victory for Women


3 JUDGE PANEL BLOCKS NC'S 20 WEEK ABORTION BAN: The law tightened the definition of a medical emergency and extended the waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion, among other changes. The underlying law, both before and after the 2015 changes, allows abortion within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. “The amendments impose additional regulations on abortion providers by restricting who may perform abortions and what information providers must report to North Carolina; the amendments reduce the availability of abortion to women facing medical emergencies; and the amendments extend the mandated waiting period women must observe before obtaining an abortion,” a panel of three judges from the court wrote in a unanimous opinion.


Subscribe to RSS - BlueNC's blog