June 25, 2015
Commentary: The missing sense of urgency in Raleigh
By CHRIS FITZSIMON
NC Policy Watch
promises to be a long hot summer in the Legislative Building in Raleigh
as House and Senate leaders try to come up with a final budget
agreement for the next two years with hundreds of millions of dollars
and dozens of policy issues in dispute between the two chambers’
report prepared by staff members that lists the differences between the
House and Senate budget runs 372 pages long and does not include many
of the major policy sticking points like Medicaid reform and changing
the way local sales tax revenues are distributed.
seems eager to start tackling the daunting process. Speaker Tim Moore
says the House is prepared to stay in Raleigh and Senate leaders vow
not to adjourn until Medicaid reform is finished.
that is merely negotiating rhetoric, but lawmakers are planning to take
the week after the 4th of July off and reportedly more than a dozen
legislators, including some in leadership positions, are planning to
attend the ALEC legislative conference the third week of July.
state fiscal year ends June 30th and local school districts need budget
information soon to make plans for the schools that starts in two
months, but there’s little urgency in Legislative Building at the
moment, just predictions that the session could drag on until Labor Day.
too many years ago, Republicans routinely criticized the Democratic
majority for the length of legislative sessions and budget debates that
spilled into July and beyond. Now people remark on the process, but no
one seems troubled by it, no questions about why a Republican House and
a Republican Senate can’t agree on a final budget with a Republican
governor after promising to run government more efficiently and
there is any sense of urgency at all in Raleigh these days, it comes
from McCrory who has been busy travelling across the state plugging his
$3 billion worth of bonds for transportation projects and
wants the bonds on the ballot in November, but he will be lucky if he
gets them at all. Senate leaders have openly dismissed his proposal for
a transportation bond, and key members of both the House and Senate
have questioned the size and the projects included in the
McCrory’s response has been to keep cutting ribbons and having press
conferences and staging events across the state, touting the bond
package he calls Connect NC.
spent the first few months of the year crisscrossing the state the same
way trying to build support for restoring the historic preservation tax
credit program that expired as part of tax reform McCrory supported in
of the credit point to models that show it created more than 2,000 jobs
a year in the state, not to mention that the scores of downtowns it has
helped revitalize. House Republicans reportedly supported a
watered down credit at the end of the year’s session, but Senate
leaders didn’t go along with it so the credit expired.
House included the scaled down version of the credit again in their
budget this year, but the Senate ignored McCrory’s efforts and refused
to make the credit part of its spending plan.
advocacy has moved on to the bonds. At the very least, he’s putting a
lot of miles on the state plane and making a lot appearances that may
serve him well as he turns toward his reelection effort in 2016.
still seems at a loss about how to use the powers of his office to get
things done in the General Assembly, preferring to travel and talk to
local media than confront wavering legislators in his own party. He
also seems happier when he is not in Raleigh and likes to blame the
failure of his agenda on the “inside the beltline” crowd that he can’t
figure out how to influence.
leaders don’t seem too impressed with McCrory’s media appearances and
press releases and are setting in for the long summer and their planned
vacation and late July junket to ALEC-land in California.
the lawmakers are the folks who need to leave Raleigh, and they seem
comfortable here. The governor, who could be in Raleigh pressing his
case and talking tough to lawmakers in one-one meetings, is flying all
over the state talking to everybody else.
Meanwhile, schools and hospitals and families anxiously wait for the
people that are supposed to represent them to do their job and pass a
budget for the state.
Policy Watch is a progressive, nonprofit and non-partisan public policy
organization and news outlet dedicated to informing elected
officials as they debate important issues and, ultimately, to improving
the quality of life for all North Carolinians.)