Budget grinds on

Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch is keeping a close watch on the budget negotiations, which is easier said than done.
Right now the focus is on taxes. On this, there’s quite a gulf between Commons and Lords.

House and Senate leaders agreed weeks ago to allocate $50 million for the tax changes and that’s where the agreement on taxes ended. The House budget includes an increase in the State Earned Income Tax Credit to help the working poor, a property tax break for military veterans, and the renewal of several other tax credits, most notably the break for small businesses that provide health care coverage for their employees.

The Senate did not include any tax changes in its budget, preferring instead to pass tax cuts and credits in separate legislation. The Senate first voted to repeal the state’s gift tax, a move that will benefit the wealthiest taxpayers and reduce state revenues by almost $20 million.

Playing with lives

Just shameful.

DeMint, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and five other Republican senators blocked Senate consideration of a bill that would more than triple U.S. aid to nations most stricken by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and to international relief groups helping them.

Crisis, what crisis?

Spent a good deal of time looking at solar and wind for the house after a friend alerted me to the fact that even Costco is selling the stuff.
Look, before we decide that turning over the east coast to the oil companies is the only way to save our gas guzzlin ways, maybe we oughta read up a little on the future of energy.
It’s pretty clear that microgeneration is one way out of this. The formula to see if you’re location is prime for wind power, for instance, is based on a kind of 11/11 rule – 11 miles per hour wind speed average and 11 cents or more per kilowatt hour. But that’s going to change a lot when you factor in plug-in electric and hybrid cars and $5-7 a gallon gas.
If I could power my house and my car (and maybe sell some power back to the electric company when the wind is good) the whole equation changes.

Hall on Obama opt out

Bob Hall of Democracy NC sent this out on Sen. Obama’s opt out of public financing:

Statement from Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina,
regarding Barack Obama’s decision to forego participation in presidential public financing program.

Senator Obama’s decision is predictable, given the shortcomings of the presidential public financing program and his capacity to raise money from private sources. The current program lacks the carrots and sticks — the incentives and penalties — to attract and sustain participation by major party candidates. For example, the program does not provide sufficient funds for a candidate to mount a truly competitive campaign across the nation, without relying on unregulated spending by outside groups. Nor does it compensate for the candidate who opts out of the program by providing additional, matching money to the opponent who stays in the program. Barack Obama’s decision may have been different if the program provided twice the money it now does (that would still be less than $1 per voting-age citizen) and/or awarded matching money to John McCain for every dollar Obama raised above a fixed limit.

North Carolina has two public financing programs now underway that aim to provide qualified candidates with the minimum needed to campaign, plus a matching fund provision. Qualifying is not easy, and the programs need constant attention to keep up with new challenges — something that has not happened with the presidential program. In North Carolina, 92% of the candidates covered by the judicial program and 67% of the candidates in the executive branch program are participating — Republicans and Democrats, men and women, blacks and whites, challengers and incumbents.

One important effort to reform the presidential public financing program is being led by North Carolina’s own Rep. David Price. Please note the release about that effort and the organizations involved in it: http://price.house.gov/issues/uploadedfiles/campaign3.pdf

We don’t expect politicians to heavily handicap themselves by ignoring the realities of the current arms race in fundraising. What we most want to see is aggressive leadership to provide effective alternatives to a worsening money chase that corrupts government and shuts out ordinary people. We need leaders who champion concrete reforms that, step by step, move us closer to “voter-owned elections.”

Bob Hall
Democracy North Carolina

Workforce cuts

Further update: N&O shedding 70 jobs, consolidating editions down to two: State and Final. Publishers’ message to staff.

Wow.

Update via the N&O: Serious cuts at the Char-O including 22 newsroom positions.

It was not immediately clear how the N&O will be affected by today’s announcement. More details are expected after affected employees are notified.

At The Charlotte Observer, which McClatchy also owns, publisher Ann Caulkins told staff this morning that newspaper will trim its work force by 123 positions, or 11.1 percent. The cuts will include 22 jobs in the newsroom.

Original post:
McClatchy cutting workforce 10 percent citing slow ad sales.
Then, there’s the matter of all that debt.
Bloomberg says the tally will reach 1400 jobs.

Rasmussen on NC

Here’s the link to the Rasmussen poll story on Dole/Hagan.
Here’s the link to the one showing a two point margin for McCain over Obama.

At one point in 1992, it looked like Clinton could win the state. He came close.