The Free Enterprise Foundation's recent rankings of which legislators are most supportive of business included a few notable elements:
GOP Inc.: Republicans, who nationally are seen as more sympathetic to business, fared much better in the rankings than Democrats. Republicans accounted for 18 of the 21 senators rated as "consistent" business supporters. Of the 57 House members in the "consistent" supporter category, 48 were Republicans.
On occasion: Members of the Legislative Black Caucus did poorly in the rankings, and 27 of the 28 black senators and House members were placed in the lowest-ranked category, "occasional" supporter of business. Rep. Pearl Burris-Floyd, a Gaston County Republican, was in the middle ranking of "frequent" supporter.
Next of Yad-kin: Former Rep. Chuck Neely, a Raleigh Republican, was a paid lobbyist for Alcoa during the legislative session. He was paid to work against legislation creating the Yadkin River Trust, which would have given the state control over the hydroelectric dams that Alcoa built on the river. Neely is also a FreeEnterprise Foundation board member involved in the rankings, and the House and Senate votes on the Yadkin River legislation ended up as one of the measures for the rankings.
"The North Carolina FreeEnterprise Foundation is an impartial, nonpartisan organization," director John Rustin said. "The process and methodology used to produce the 2009 Business Ratings was established by a broad-based committee made up of individuals representing a wide variety of industries, interests and geographical areas of the state."
Good grades for N.C.
There were times earlier this year when it seemed that Gov. Bev Perdue and the legislature were making everybody mad as they cut programs, laid off employees and raised taxes during the worst fiscal crisis since the 1930s.
But North Carolina's leaders are getting decent marks from outsiders for their efforts.
The Pew Center on the States in a recent study gives North Carolina a grade of B-minus in its chart of states in fiscal peril.
The worst grade went to troubled California. The study said nine states are in deep trouble: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
North Carolina also received some positive news recently when it sent a delegation to New York City for its annual meetings with the three major bond houses. North Carolina is one of only seven states that have a AAA bond rating from the major bond rating companies: Moody's Investors Service, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch Ratings.
Charles Perusse, the state budget director, said the bond analysts were complimentary of the steps the governor took to cut back spending, the actions of the legislature and the governor to reduce spending and raises taxes, and in particular "the ability to make difficult decisions."
They also liked the state's long-range planning efforts, such as the commissions that are looking at ways to reduce government waste and modernizing the tax system, Perusse said.
Marshall leads Dems
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is leading other candidates in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate by a wide margin.
Marshall is the choice of 42 percent of voters in a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling. Chapel Hill lawyer Kenneth Lewis has 7 percent, and unofficial candidate and Lexington lawyer Cal Cunningham has 5 percent. There's room to grow: 45 percent of poll respondents were undecided, according to the survey of 667 likely Democratic primary voters that was conducted Nov. 23 and 24.
The poll may prove helpful to Marshall, who is still trying to convince the national Democratic establishment that she is worth the investment of the millions of dollars it would take to defeat Republican Sen. Richard Burr. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee unsuccessfully lobbied U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge of Lillington to run for the seat.
The committee is now lobbying Cunningham, who previously announced he would not run, to reconsider.
By staff writers Mark Johnson and Rob Christensen.
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