LEANDRO JUDGE BACKS $427 MILLION FUNDING PLAN: A North Carolina judge has approved a plan that calls for spending $427 million this year to improve the state’s public education system. But it’s questionable whether the money will be provided. The $427 million action plan developed by the State Board of Education and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration includes pay raises for teachers, increasing funding for at-risk students and expanding early childhood education programs. “We are constitutionally mandated to move these issues forward, and I’m as committed as ever to complying with that constitutional mandate without anybody getting in the way,” said Lee, who is in charge of overseeing the long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit.
LEGISLATURE PLANS STIMULUS CHECKS FOR PARENTS OF SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN: The “Extra Credit” grant program will send a $325 check to every household with one or more students. Sen. Brent Jackson
, R-Sampson, said the checks are meant to offset some of the pressures caused by school closures during the pandemic. "Parents are facing many unexpected financial burdens – lost hours, worrying about child care, supplemental materials and so much more," said Jackson, a top budget writer in the Senate. "This assistance is designed to help alleviate some of that burden and show we care." The package also includes $35 million for "operational flexibility" grants to help child care centers keep their doors open despite sagging revenues and rising overhead due to virus prevention measures. It also includes $20 million in child care subsidy funds for lower-income workers. Another large chunk of the CARES Act funds will add a $50 supplement to all unemployment checks in North Carolina through the end of the year. That's over and above any additional federal jobless assistance.
BAR OWNERS CHAFE AT PHASE 2.5 REOPENING PLAN: Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, bars in North Carolina feel like they’re stuck at the start. North Carolina is moving into Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase 2.5, but bars are still left behind. The latest easing of COVID-related restrictions reopens playgrounds, gyms and bowling alleys at some capacity, but keeps private bars, movie theaters and nightclubs closed. Eryk Pruitt, who owns the Yonder Bar in Hillsborough with his wife, Lana Pierce, takes issue with the wording of “bars” being closed nearly as much as the restriction itself. “Bars are not closed,” Pruitt said. “My bar and others like it are closed.” Since the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown in March, statewide restrictions have prohibited bars from opening, while restaurants, breweries, wineries and bottle shops have served drinks for months after restrictions were eased in May. Those businesses — some serving mixed drinks along with a full menu of food, others simply serving wine and beer — have been operating at 50% capacity. The state’s bar industry says that 85% of North Carolina’s alcohol-serving industry is already open, but that around 1,000 private bars, which serve mixed drinks and no food, remain closed.
ANOTHER TRUMP HENCHMAN IS ABOUT TO PLEAD GUILTY: Federal prosecutors are preparing to charge longtime GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy in connection with efforts to influence the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests, according to people familiar with the matter, a result of a sprawling, years-long investigation that involved a figure who helped raise millions for Donald Trump’s election and the Republican Party. Broidy is under scrutiny for his alleged role in a campaign to persuade high-level Trump administration officials to drop an investigation of Malaysian government corruption, as well as for his attempt to push for the extradition of an outspoken Chinese dissident back to his home country, according to the people, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. He has been in discussions with the Justice Department and could ultimately reach a plea deal, they said. The investigation of Broidy has its roots in a massive probe of theft from a Malaysian government development fund that has come to be known by the shorthand “1MDB.” In previous civil and criminal cases, federal prosecutors have alleged that stolen money that made its way into the United States was used to buy pricey real estate and even fund the award-winning movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak was accused of being involved in the corruption. He was convicted in July and sentenced to 12 years in prison. At the center of the case is a Malaysian businessman named Low Taek Jho, who was indicted in 2018 and accused of funneling tens of millions of dollars into the United States in part to get the Malaysian corruption investigation dropped. Low, who is facing multiple federal indictments, is believed to be in China, outside the reach of U.S. authorities. He has denied the allegations and said they are politically motivated.
TRUMP LOSES SUPPORT FROM ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY, 78% OPPOSE BEING DEPLOYED TO U.S. CITIES: Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump in support among active-duty troops, according to a new poll. In a Military Times poll released Monday, 41.3% of surveyed active-duty troops said they would vote for Biden, compared to 37.4% who said they would vote for Trump. Nearly half of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, and 42% said they “strongly” disapprove of the president. Fewer than one-quarter of those polled — 22% — said they supported Trump’s assertion that troops should be called in during racial equality protests and civil unrest. About 1,600 active-duty troops were mobilized in June to Washington, D.C., as crowds gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody. Trump pointed to the Insurrection Act, saying “if a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Business Insider reported. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, broke with Trump in wanting to use active-duty troops during protests, according to The New York Times. The Lincoln Project, a Republican anti-Trump group, announced on Tuesday a leadership coalition of veterans, Blue Star and Gold Star families, and advocates, The Hill reported. “Our veterans, service members, and their families know what a leader should be and have seen first hand how Donald Trump has failed his sacred duty as Commander-in-Chief,” the group’s senior adviser for veterans affairs Fred Wellman said.