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The Campaign Trail
Ferrel Guillory Perspective - Deeper Currents At Play In Legislative Drama PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:29
The extraordinary confluence of budgeting and redistricting that roiled the North Carolina General Assembly over this week has made freshly relevant such antique terms as gerrymandering, checks-and-balances, and tyranny of the majority. The swirl of drama in Raleigh arises out of long-developing political trends and cultural currents that shape today’s fractious public life.
Acting under a state court order, lawmakers worked under a tight deadline to redraw legislative districts that Republicans had designed to give them a practically impregnable majority. At the same time, the House GOP majority — casting aside legislative comity and credibility — moved to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto, voting in early morning when Democrats say they had been told that no votes were scheduled.
The current rough-and-tumble is not simply conventional inside-politics stuff. Yes, the tussles involve Democratic vs. Republican partisanship, as well as the natural rivalry of party leaders: Gov. Cooper vs. House Speaker Tim Moore vs. Senate Republican leader Phil Berger. Beyond that, what’s at stake are also fundamentals of democratic governance — whether the rules allow elections to reflect public will, who pays taxes and how much, and what priorities guide the distribution of government revenues.
Beneath the surface, influencing both redistricting and budgeting, are the two potent currents, mixtures of ideology, culture and economics, that have flowed through North Carolina public life for generations. One stream has produced public figures who promoted “progress’’ through public education and economic development to modernize the state; out of this stream has come a coalition of white and black leaders who worked toward racial change. A parallel stream has sustained traditionalist leaders who have sought to maintain the fiscal and cultural values of the state’s rural heritage and to advance the interests of a majority-white society in an era of population growth and demographic shifts.
Through the solid-South era, the Democratic Party contained both streams, generating intra-party factional fights. Through the success of the Republican Southern strategy and the political realignments in the wake of the 1960s civil rights legislation, the state GOP has become the more rural and traditionalist party. The Democratic Party is now a multi-ethnic coalition centered in the state’s growing cities.
From time to time, these streams have intersected, setting off campaigns characterized as fights for the soul of the state. The race-tinged campaigns of Willis Smith who defeated Frank Porter Graham in 1950 for the U.S. Senate and I. Beverly Lake who lost the governor’s race to Terry Sanford in 1960 took place in Democratic primaries. In contrast, the 1984 Senate race in which Jesse Helms, a segregationist Democrat-turned-hard-right Republican, defeated Jim Hunt and the 1990 race in which Helms defeated Harvey Gantt were decided in Republican vs. Democratic general elections.
In the 2010 elections, Berger, along with now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, over-powered a lackluster Democratic campaign to win for Republicans a solid majority in both the state House and Senate. GOP momentum was fueled by the rise of the Tea Party, anxiety over the Great Recession, and a backlash against President Obama. In 2012, Republican Pat McCrory won the governor’s race and the party gained veto-proof majorities in the legislature. In effect, one stream was dammed, while the other stream gushed onward.
Education policy serves as a key indicator of how these elections had consequences. Republican rule has led to public schools graded on an A-through-F scale, to a third-grading reading mandate, to paltry pay raises for teachers — and a turn away from across-the-board salary increases — to business-tilted tax cuts that limit revenues available for schools, to subsidies for private education with barely minimal requirements for academic quality.
However dramatic and not-normal, legislative tempests cannot match the milestone statewide campaigns in stirring visceral public reactions. And yet, the two historic streams have collided anew. Cooper won the 2016 governor’s race, and his Democratic allies, while still in a minority, scored critical gains in the legislature.
In the gerrymandering legal case and the governor’s exercise of his veto power, the constitutional system of checks-and-balances came into play. In effect, the overturning of the GOP-forged legislative districts and the governor’s withering critique of the Republican-written state budget amount to cracks in the dam that had held one of the state’s classic societal streams in check. The 2020 election will almost assuredly result again in a clash of the state’s long-embedded political currents.
Ferrel Guillory is the Director of the Program on Public Life, Professor of the Practice at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, and the Vice Chairman of EducationNC.
National DNC Chair Praises Dan McCready's campaign PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 18 September 2019 09:20

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:

“Dan McCready ran an extraordinary race, and although the final outcome isn’t what we hoped for, he stood up for Democratic values and inspired voters across North Carolina’s 9th District. These close results in a district Trump won by double digits should send waves of fear through the Republican Party at every level. Dan campaigned on the issues that matter most to working families. From lowering health care costs to strengthening our public schools, protecting the right to vote, and fighting for the middle class, he puts the people of his community, not corporate profits and special interests, first. As a Marine Corps veteran, he knows what it means to serve his country honorably, and I have no doubt that he has a bright future.  

“This was an election that never should have had to take place, but Republicans plotted to tamper with the ballots in the last election. And while the GOP will no doubt continue to do everything they can to suppress the vote, especially in communities of color, Democrats will never stop fighting to ensure that the rights of every eligible voter are protected.”


NC Justice Center - Medicaid Expansion Will Benefit Rural Hospitals PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Friday, 13 September 2019 08:36

Medicaid Expansion could provide a much-needed tonic for the fiscal ailments that many rural hospitals face in North Carolina, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center a project of the NC Justice Center.

“Medicaid expansion could, in one stroke, profoundly improve the physical and economic health of rural communities,” said Patrick McHugh, Budget & Tax Center Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “Expansion would ensure lifesaving care for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, support rural hospitals currently facing financial ruin, and stave off the economic damage that follows hospital closures.”

The report, which includes a list of the projected financial impacts of full Medicaid expansion on each hospital in North Carolina, discusses how financial pressures, including uncompensated care costs, have already pushed several North Carolina hospitals into insolvency. Many of North Carolina’s rural hospitals have either closed in recent years or are at risk of closing. By dramatically reducing uncompensated care costs for many rural hospitals in North Carolina, Medicaid expansion is likely the single fastest way to put these facilities on more solid economic ground while addressing a gaping hole in our health-care system.

Other highlights from the report:

*     Medicaid Expansion has proven effective in stabilizing rural hospitals. The overwhelming majority of U.S. rural hospitals forced to close their doors were in states that have not expanded eligibility. North Carolina has had five hospitals close over that same time.

*     Fiscal Research data shows net improvement in all N.C. hospitals’ finances. The Fiscal Research Division of the N.C. General Assembly projects that Medicaid expansion could provide affordable coverage for up to 650,000 people within a few years and generate more than $1.8 billion annually in hospital reimbursements. Even while covering the state’s share of the costs, hospitals would see a nearly $400 million net improvement in their financial standing. Of that, rural hospitals would receive approximately $665 million in new Medicaid payments each year, which would improve rural hospitals’ net fiscal strength by nearly $140 million.

*     Work reporting requirements and premiums would undermine the benefits of expansion. These requirements in other states have pushed down enrollment, reducing the new Medicaid reimbursements that hospitals would receive and forcing them to cover more of the costs of providing care to uninsured patients. With North Carolina’s uninsured rate among the highest in the nation, rural hospitals in our state struggle more than their peers in many other states to cover the cost of uncompensated care.

*     Hospitals are key to rural economies. Hospitals create jobs, attract and retain companies that bring local jobs, and keep the local workforce healthier and more productive. Also, research shows that each hospital job lost in a rural community destroys another local job, effectively doubling the economic cost of rural hospital closures.

“Full Medicaid expansion would strengthen hospitals’ finances,” said Suzy Khachaturyan, Budget & Tax Center Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. “And saving rural hospitals is essential to the long-term economic vitality of many communities in North Carolina.”



NC Democratic Party Requests Extended Early Voting in Counties Impacted by Hurricane Dorian PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:53

The North Carolina Democratic Party requested the State Board of Elections extend early voting hours for the NC-09 and NC-03 special elections in counties where voting will be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Initially, the party requested extending early voting to Saturday, Sunday and/or Monday in Robeson County to “offset the early voting time lost” due to the storm. As more county boards and early voting sites closed across the state, the party subsequently requested that those impacted counties receive the same consideration. Read the full letter online here.


“Voters impacted by Hurricane Dorian deserve the same opportunities to have their voices heard as people in counties who are spared the worst of the storm’s impact,” NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin said. “Extending early voting hours in affected counties will ensure that every person’s vote will be counted regardless of where they live, and we hope the State Board of Elections takes the necessary steps to ensure that voters are not disadvantaged simply for living in the path of the storm.”


In NC-03, three counties are under mandatory evacuation and five more are under voluntary evacuation. Across NC-03 and NC-09, 20 counties are scheduled to close early vote sites over the coming days. With conditions worsening toward the end of the week, extending early voting will help ensure North Carolinians have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the special elections while staying safe from the storm.


Closures and evacuations across the state include…


•Beaufort (NC-03): Early voting closed at noon Thursday, through Friday.

•Bladen (NC-09): Early voting sites closed Thursday and Friday.

•Carteret (NC-03): Early voting sites closed through Friday.

•Chowan (NC-03): Early voting sites closed at noon Thursday, through Friday.

•Craven (NC-03): Early voting closed Thursday and Friday.

•Cumberland (NC-09): Early voting available until 1pm Thursday at County Board of Elections only.

•Currituck (NC-03): Under mandatory evacuation. Early voting closed at noon Thursday, through Friday.

•Dare (NC-03): Under mandatory evacuation. Early voting sites closed through Friday.

•Greene (NC-03): Early voting closed Thursday and Friday.

•Hyde (NC-03): Under mandatory evacuation. Early voting sites closed through Friday.

•Jones (NC-03): Early voting sites closed Thursday and Friday.

•Lenoir (NC-03): Early voting sites closed Thursday and Friday.

•Onslow (NC-03): Early voting sites closed Thursday and Friday.

•Pamlico (NC-03): Early voting sites closed Thursday and Friday.

•Pasquotank (NC-03): Early voting until 5pm at Thursday at County Board of Elections only. Early vote sites closed Friday. 

•Perquimans (NC-03): Early voting until 5pm Thursday at County Board of Elections only. Early vote sites closed Friday.

•Pitt (NC-03): Early voting sites closed through Friday.

•Robeson (NC-09): Early voting sites closed Thursday.

•Scotland (NC-09): Early voting sites closed Thursday.

•Tyrrell (NC-03): Early voting until 5pm Thursday at County Board of Elections only. Early vote sites closed Friday.


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