Morning Memo: Diverging from Senate, House budget offers different pay hikes

Posted by John Frank on June 10, 2014 

House Speaker Thom Tillis will present the chamber’s budget Tuesday morning in a move that will be closely watched in the legislature and the U.S. Senate campaign trail.

How Tillis handles teacher pay and education spending is sure to play into the Republican’s bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. So far, it looks like the House is moving a different direction than the state Senate’s plan to give what it calls the largest raise in history at the cost of teaching assistants and much else.

The Associated Press’s Gary Robertson has the inside line on what to expect: North Carolina public school teachers would get average 5 percent raises without having to give up any job protections in the budget proposal House Republicans have written.

...The Senate budget proposal approved last month gave average raises of more than 11 percent but required veteran teachers to give up their tenure. The Senate also cut money for teacher assistants in half. The House proposal demands neither.

The House measure also gives flat $1,000 salary raises to state employees. The House budget avoids the Senate’s provisions to trim the Medicaid rolls and reject Gov. Pat McCrory’s Medicaid reform plan.

Tillis and House budget writers will present the plan at a 9 a.m. press conference at the legislative building. The six House budget subcommittees will meet at 10 a.m. to begin discussing the various parts.

*** Senate leader Phil Berger meets with “Moral Monday” protesters. Unconfirmed reports say the Obama’s bought property in Asheville. And FreedomWorks may back Tillis, its former rival. All below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will visit A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A Senate judiciary committee will discuss a bill involving product liability and another on the privacy of student records at 9 a.m. in room 1027 LB ahead of the chamber convening at 9:30 a.m. to read in bills and then adjourning again until the afternoon. Another Senate judiciary committee will meet at 10 a.m. in 1124 LB and the chamber’s finance committee meet at 1 p.m.

The House convenes at 3 p.m. and final votes on measures from last week – unemployment insurance and a tax break for agricultural fairs – are expected. The chamber’s education committee will meet 15 minutes after session.

Autism Speaks is holding its lobbying day Tuesday as it tries to push a House-approved bill to require insurance companies to cover certain therapy treatments. The bill is stuck in the Senate and became entangled in an anti-Affordable Care Act effort to block insurance mandates. The group will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. outside the history museum on Jones Street.

#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.

PREVIEW: Via Politico, the Hagan campaigns’ first two TV ads. “ For Janey” and “ Fabric.”

THE BIG STORY -- FAYETTEVILLE VA PATIENTS HAVE LONGEST WAIT TIMES -- From the Fayetteville Observer: Patients at Fayetteville’s VA Medical Center have the longest wait times in the country, according to a nationwide audit released Monday.

Patients wait an average of 29 days for a primary care appointment at the medical center on Ramsey Street, the audit found. New patients wait an average of 83 days. ... In response to the audit, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said she sent a letter to Gibson calling on him to visit the Fayetteville hospital. Read more here.

ONCE A RIVAL, FREEDOMWORKS MAY BACK TILLIS, THOUGH NOT WHOLEHEARTEDLY-- From Roll Call: The group is now considering helping Tillis’s bid to defeat Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. FreedomWorks previously attacked Tillis in the primary and backed his opponent, Dr. Greg Brannon.

“We don’t endorse candidates that we don’t really think are going to be rock stars,” Kibbe said. “Our super PAC, on the other hand, has always spent money in races where we haven’t endorsed. So we might go into North Carolina and work against Kay Hagan, for instance, because clearly Tillis is better than Hagan, from our perspective.”

Such help would not take the form of a “pro-Tillis” effort, FreedomWorks executive vice president Adam Brandon clarified on Friday, but rather an “anti-Kay Hagan” campaign. Read more here.

HEADLINES ON THE RACE: Amid Bergdahl furor, lawmakers face political temptations and risks. Read more here. How black turnout could decide Senate control. Read more here.

#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.

BERGER MEETS WITH ‘MORAL MONDAY’ PROTESTERS: Sen. Phil Berger, a 61-year-old lawyer from Eden, in his fourth session at the head of the N.C. Senate, was not in his office when the teachers (who were protesting) arrived. But about two hours later, Berger sat down the demonstrators in the hallway and had a conversation with them – a first by a Republican leader with the so-called “Moral Monday” movement.

The teachers, who came from varied schools across the state, had questions for him and he answered them, though there was disagreement. They argued about numbers and dollar figures and how the state money should be spent. Berger told the protesters that he valued what the protesters had to say even if he might disagree with them.

PROTESTS LOSING STEAM? The demonstration on Monday did not pull in thousands as some of the late-summer Moral Mondays did last year. Read more here.

MORE: In the biggest twist of the night, Berger read a list of 14 agenda points prepared by “Moral Monday” founder the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, and said he had put them into an amendment. ... Berger said the legislative staff calculated the cost of the demands at $5 billion to $6 billion, and said it would take a 50 percent corporate tax rate to pay for them. No one is willing to push for that, he said. Read more here.

COURT BLOCKS ANOTHER GOP-DRAWN LAW-- From the Times-News: Asheville is claiming victory after a North Carolina judge’s decision striking down the transfer of the city’s water system to a regional body. Asheville officials said Monday that Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. ruled state lawmakers last year violated the state constitution and failed to compensate for the cost of building the water system. Read more here.

#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS LAUNCH NEW ROUNDS OF ADS: A new round of TV ads, mailers and an Internet campaign will launch Tuesday, for a second time calling out Republican state senators Chad Barefoot of Wake County, Ronald Rabin representing Johnston, Lee and Harnett counties, and Wesley Meredith from Cumberland County.

“Tell them to protect us, not the polluters,” the new ads say.

The “accountability campaign” was developed by a coalition of nine environmental groups in North Carolina, with an unprecedented infusion of money from a powerful national advocacy organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s a response to what they contend has been the dismantling of environmental safeguards since Republicans took control of the legislature in 2011. Read more here.

ASHEVILLE IN A TIZZY -- WILL THE OBAMA’S BUY PROPERTY THERE? From the Citizen-Times: If gossip spreads like wildfire in a small town, it spreads more like a gasoline-drenched cheetah on social media in a small town.

The Wall St. Cheat Sheet, a popular financial news website headquartered in Asheville, posted a story yesterday saying that “sources” had confirmed the Obamas were moving to Asheville post-presidency. They first posted last week that the first family was looking, and then that a purchase was “confirmed” Monday.

Of course this posting has made some serious waves. Within hours people from every neighborhood in the city have posted on Facebook and Twitter about how and why theirs will the ’hood where the president and his family reside. Some are ready to pop the champagne, others are saying it’s “time to move.” Read more here.

The Wall St. Cheat Sheet story: A source close to Wall St. Cheat Sheet has confirmed that the Obama family have purchased property in the city of Asheville in North Carolina as a post-Presidency residence. A call to get an official confirmation from the White House wasn’t immediately returned. Read more here.

McCRORY GETS HECKLED AT FOOD BANK FUNDRAISER IN ASHEVILLE -- From News Radio 570’s Pete Kaliner: Later, as he walked around and chatted with people and got his pictures taken with many of them, one woman yelled at him to expand Medicaid. He said, “It’s a lot more involved than just expanding the program.”

She kept repeating, “It’s for poor people! It helps poor people!” Finally, he continued walking and said he wasn’t going to debate the matter at the fundraiser. Read more here.

GOVERNOR SINKS A PRESSURE PUTT: Credit Gov. Pat McCrory for making the first pressure putt of U.S. Open week.

Challenged to a putting contest after a Monday news conference to kick off two weeks of U.S. Open championship play, McCrory was given three chances to make a 12-foot putt. He missed on the first two but drained the third, raising his putter in victory as it fell. Read more here.

QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.

State helicopter eBay sale ends with no bidders. Read more here.

Supreme Court ruling muddies water in Lejeune pollution case. Read more here.

Wilmington, Greensboro competing for Stone Brewing Co.’s East Coast facility. Read more here.

N.C. lawmakers want audits of DHHS no-bid contracts. Read more here.

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