Commentary

Christensen: On budgets, business and Reconstruction

rchristensen@newsobserver.comJune 28, 2014 

You have got to be kidding.

• The Republican legislature is being criticized for its “dismal state of governance” because it will not have a budget ready by July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, even though state government is controlled by one party.

Never mind that budgets were almost never passed in time when Democrats were in control. A look back at past similar short budget sessions – held in even-numbered years – when Democrats were in charge shows the legislature adjourned Aug. 27 in 2008, July 28 in 2006, July 18 in 2004, Oct. 4 in 2002, and July 13 in 2000. Normally, legislatures adjourn shortly after they adopt their budgets.

Much has been made of the food fights between Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis. But there is always tension between the executive and legislative branches when the same party is in power – see Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt and Lt. Gov. Jimmy Green, and Democratic Gov. Mike Easley and Senate leader Marc Basnight.

There also is often plenty of friction between the House and the Senate, as both sides go to the mattresses over their budgets.

Even with the increase of women in the Legislative Building, Raleigh’s Jones Street has nearly as much testosterone as Fayetteville’s Bragg Boulevard.

• CNBC last week ranked North Carolina as the fifth-best state in the nation for business behind Georgia, Texas, Utah and Nebraska. It used 51 metrics developed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness.

“North Carolina is getting back to work,” said state Republican Chairman Claude Pope. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis, and President Pro Temp Phil Berger, our state has become one of the best in the nation for business. We are creating jobs, leading the way in innovation, and building one of the best states to live and work. Republicans in North Carolina are delivering results with conservative principles and commonsense solutions. It is a good lesson for Washington on how to get the rest of America back on track.”

This would be somewhat more impressive if CNBC had not ranked North Carolina fourth in the country in its 2012 survey when Democrat Bev Perdue was governor. Or No. 3 in its 2011 survey, also under Perdue. Of course at the time, Republicans dismissed CNBC’s survey and similar ones as liberally biased.

• A fundraising missive came across my desk from the Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based advocacy group started by GOP fundraiser Art Pope, who is now the governor’s budget director.

“North Carolina was controlled by the Left for more than 140 years,” writes Francis DeLuca, the group’s president. “They are desperate to regain their stranglehold on power. It’s clear what they would do with that power: buy votes with special favors and taxpayer giveaways.”

So, I got out my calculator and 140 years takes us back to 1874, when North Carolina was nearing the end of the period of Reconstruction (1865-1877).

I guess including governors Zeb Vance, Charles B. Aycock, Melville Broughton, Luther Hodges and Dan Moore as part of the left depends on your political perspective. But who knew the period of Reconstruction was the good old days?

Christensen: 919-829-4532 or rchristensen@ newsobserver.com

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