Saturday News: Impasse


MARATHON SESSION ADJOURNS WITH NO NEW BUDGET: "It’s unfortunate that the General Assembly left town passing a sweeping corporate tax cut while leaving teachers with a pay raise much less than other state employees," Cooper said Friday. During the budget impasse, lawmakers passed a series of so-called "mini-budgets" to get new money to various agencies and programs. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger
said Thursday that the various measures account for 98.5 percent of what was in the vetoed budget. Although Cooper complained about the piecemeal process, he has signed many of the proposals into law. The teacher pay raise bill cleared the legislature Thursday, but Cooper wouldn't say Friday whether he would sign it or veto it to force more negotiations.

15,000 NC CHILDREN LOSE HEALTH COVERAGE DUE TO LACK OF MEDICAID EXPANSION: Fifteen thousand North Carolina children lost health insurance coverage between 2016 and 2018, according to a report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Michelle Hughes, executive director of the advocacy organization NC Child, said the troubling trend is largely the result of state lawmakers' refusal to expand Medicaid. "Our state Legislature could roll out the welcome mat to enroll the whole family in health-care coverage, but so far has chosen not to," she said, "and that really is probably the biggest factor behind the number of kids who are falling off the insure goals in our state." Fourteen other states, many located in the Southeast, also are experiencing a widespread loss of children's health coverage, according to the report. Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, said Medicaid expansion is a key factor, noting that when parents go through the process of enrolling themselves in Medicaid, they are subsequently more likely to also enroll their children in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

NANCY MCFARLANE GIVES FINAL SPEECH AS RALEIGH MAYOR: She talked about accomplishments she made during her time in office including opening Dix Park as well as more jobs and investment in the city. She also talked about some of the challenges she faced. "Raleigh, like every fast growing city in the country, is facing an issue of affordability," McFarlane said. McFarlane announced on March 13 she would not seek a fifth two-year term as Raleigh's mayor. She was first elected in 2011 and was most recently re-elected in November 2017. Former City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin was elected as Raleigh's next mayor in October. She had the most votes in the Oct. 8 election and, on Oct. 11, attorney Charles Francis said he would not seek a runoff with Baldwin after finishing second in the voting. The vote was close enough where Francis could ask for a runoff. Baldwin will take the office in December.

WHITE HOUSE COVER-UP OF UKRAINE PHONE CALL DETAILED IN TESTIMONY: Several days after President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine, a top White House lawyer instructed a senior national security official not to discuss his grave concerns about the leaders’ conversation with anyone outside the White House, according to three people familiar with the aide’s testimony. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that he received this instruction from John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, after White House lawyers learned July 29 that a CIA employee had anonymously raised concerns about the Trump phone call, the sources said. The directive from Eisenberg adds to an expanding list of moves by senior White House officials to contain, if not conceal, possible evidence of Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide information that could be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden. Vindman’s testimony Tuesday pointed to several actions by White House officials that could be interpreted as attempts to cover up Trump’s conduct. The top Ukraine expert at the White House, Vindman was one of several officials who listened to the Trump-Zelensky call from the White House situation room.

BETO O'ROURKE BOWS OUT OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY RACE: Officially, the end came Friday evening, among teary supporters and stern-faced staff, at the bottom of a damp riverside hill. He spoke across from the arena where the remaining 2020 Democratic contenders would be addressing the crowd at a rah-rah candidate dinner, their teams’ cheers already audible from the street above as they filed in. “We’re all a little crazy to be doing this,” Mr. O’Rourke told one supporter quietly, consoling all comers after giving some valedictory public remarks about staying in the fight. “In a good way.” One by one, they approached to thank him, to hug him, to take one more picture — a grim political processional in the year of the merry candidate photo line, completed after dusk in front of six giant wooden letters, painted blue to read “NO FEAR.” “I’m kind of sad,” said Sierra Rodriguez, 17, who had traveled from Dallas, where she worked on Mr. O’Rourke’s Senate race last year and had been volunteering on this one. “But he didn’t have a reason why it was his time to be president.”



There's a lot of confusion out there...

I'm in the final days of my campaign for local office, so I've had literally hundreds of conversations with citizens recently. A very common question I've been getting is, "Did we get a budget yet?"

Republican lawmakers have been busy (as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest) talking and Tweeting and e-mailing their misinformation about this issue, and they've been lying their butts off a lot, too. Whatever somebody wants, there's apparently a whole bunch of money for it being "held hostage" by the Governor.

Another thing I keep hearing is about agencies running out of money if the budget doesn't get approved. DMV offices closing, State Troopers not patrolling, etc. When I tell these folks that won't happen, that funding will continue at last year's levels, a lot of them are relieved. But a handful of them have heard that crap directly from the mouths of the very lawmakers who voted for the continued funding a couple years ago, so they don't believe me.

Don't be afraid to talk to people about this, because there's a whole lot of nonsense being spread by the GOP. While it is true that funding increases are being held up (except those in mini-budgets), state government is not coming to a screeching halt. You can talk about the need for Medicaid expansion also, but I highly recommend you deal with that continued funding issue first. If not, they will blame Medicaid for the pending disaster that isn't going to happen.