Much hand-wringing this week over the catastrophic budget cuts coming next year. Tough tomatoes. This is the Republican plan: "starve the beast." And the only target of budgetary significance is public education. To all those holier-than-thou white men who voted for the GOP two weeks ago, well played. Maybe the baby Jesus will come riding up on a dinosaur to save the day.
POLICY & POLITICS
Looming Budget Crisis in N.C. Following Tax Cuts (Public News Service) -- North Carolina lawmakers are likely enjoying some downtime after the legislative session and midterm election, but experts predict a tough session waiting for them on their return to Raleigh. A report from the Office of the State Controller indicates tax revenues are down by almost $400 million compared with this same time last year - a six percent drop in revenue. Alexandra Sirota, director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, says it's not a problem the State Assembly will be able to ignore in January. "This is a serious issue," she says. "It's self imposed in that policymakers chose to reduce our revenue. Now they're going to have to make choices about some pretty deep cuts.”
In The South, Obamacare Advocates Try to Outmaneuver Opponents (NBC News) – In North Carolina, there’s a staff of dozens of people, led by a director, who are in charge of getting people enrolled in Obamacare. The operation, which serves all of the state’s 100 counties, includes a toll-free number where you can call and set up an appointment with an Obamacare specialist. The staff meets constantly to see if its methods are working, and they are getting results: the state had the ninth highest enrollment in the nation. Here’s what may surprise you: none of these people work for the state of North Carolina, the federal government or any of North Carolina’s cities. North Carolina may be a purple state during presidential elections, but its state politics right now are very red. The state legislature passed a bill barring North Carolina from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has opposed anyway. The state has also not set up its own health care exchange and has done little to encourage ACA enrollment. … North Carolina is at the forefront of a strategy being employed in conservative states across the country: Obamacare advocates working around their state governments to implement the law. In Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and other states, there is intense organizing by coalitions of groups to sign people up for Obamacare, which started open enrollment on Nov. 15 for its second year.
McCrory’s NCDOT plans to set up toll lanes in Charlotte (AP) -- — While controversy has swirled about toll lanes for Interstate 77 north of Charlotte, the N.C. Department of Transportation is working on a plan to set up toll lanes on one of the city's major city thoroughfares by the end of 2016.
McCrory’s borrow & spend program: DOT's urban loops depend on deficit spending (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory broke ground on Winston-Salem’s long-delayed I-74 Northern Beltway last week in a shiny-shovels ceremony made possible, his office said, by the Urban Loop Acceleration Plan. The What Plan? Around North Carolina, “urban loop acceleration” is a self-contradictory expression – like jumbo shrimp. … The governor and his state Department of Transportation want to find ways to build more urban loops. McCrory recently expanded the acceleration options to include three flavors of borrowed money. We’ll call them toll bonds, GARVEE bonds and – thanks to a blackout on details – McCrory’s mystery bonds.