Gov. Pat McCrory is once again attending a private retreat with high-dollar donors and he’s taking administration officials.
The two-day event that starts Thursday is hosted by Renew North Carolina Foundation, a nonprofit group formed to promote McCrory’s agenda. The organization spent $800,000 on television advertisements starring the Republican governor in September and October, when McCrory’s poll numbers were on the slide.
But many of those who will attend bought a year-long membership in the foundation – at a cost between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on the level or perks offered. The nonprofit is not required to disclose its donors and has refused requests to do so. Organizers said “several dozen” people are expected to attend but would not provide additional details.
The previous event featured South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. No special guest is announced at this week’s event. But top McCrory officials will attend Friday’s roundtable discussions about economic development and the state budget. Among those expected to attend, according to organizers: State Budget Director Art Pope, economic adviser Tony Almeida, Department of Revenue Chief Operating Officer Jeff Epstein and Assistant Secretary of Employment Security Dale Folwell.
Folwell campaigned as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2012 and offered strong words about being independent of special interests. But he said Wednesday that he doesn’t see his participation at the event as a contradiction. “The reason I’m there is to talk about the fact that this division is going to be turned around,” said Folwell, who plans to take time off work to attend. But he compared it to meeting with a local rotary club, adding “It’s really an extension of what I do every week.”
The governor’s office did not respond directly to questions about sending state-paid workers to the event, nor about how much of the retreat McCrory will attend.
Haley became embroiled in a controversy for using state money to attend the event, which netted her more than $35,000 for her re-election campaign. Facing questions by campaign finance watchdogs, her campaign later paid back the state for expenses related to the trip.
McCrory’s office did not respond to questions about whether McCrory likewise reimbursed taxpayers for attending the June event or whether he intends to do so for this week’s events. McCrory’s arrangement with the foundation is a first in North Carolina, but mirrors similar organizations boosting Democratic and Republican governors in other states.
*** More on the Renew North Carolina Foundation and Mark Harris wants a probe of Kay Hagan – all below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***
Adding in enrollment of more than 79,000 in the 14 states with their own websites, the nationwide number of 106,000 October sign-ups was barely one-fifth of what officials had projected – and a small fraction of the millions who have received widely publicized private coverage cancellations as a result of the federal law. Read more here.
Harris is sending a package to Hagan’s office Thursday asking her to more fullly explain her involvement in drafting the law. “North Carolinians deserve more than another ploy from the Democrat incumbent that helped land us in this disaster,” Harris said in a statement. “The 160,000 North Carolinians that are being kicked off their current healthcare plans don’t need an empty probe from Kay Hagan, they deserve an apology and immediate action to correct the terrible embarrassment that this legislation has become.”
Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue agreed late last year to lease the Dix property to Raleigh, but Republican lawmakers didn't like the terms. Legislators couldn't agree what to do next, so McCrory and Raleigh officials delayed the lease until next June to allow for new negotiations. McCrory says he wants the park plan to work also must protect the state's interests. State employees still work on the campus.
“My research was looking at why (North Carolina’s unemployment rate) went from essentially the same as the national rate prior to the recession and we ended up about a percentage and a half above the peak rate at the height of the recession,” Walden said. “Since then, both North Carolina’s rate and the national rate have come down pretty much in tandem.” Read more here.
1. More people are moving into North Carolina each year, but the migration rate has slowed, the latest census estimates show. In 2008, the American Community Survey found that 3.5 percent of North Carolina residents lived in a different state the year before. That number fell in the next three years to 2.8 percent in 2011. The 2012 estimate is static at 2.8 percent, census figures show. Another fraction moved to North Carolina from abroad, at 0.5 percent in 2011 and 2012.
2. The percent of those moving to North Carolina in 2011 without jobs was 9 percent, according to Integrated Public Use Microdata Series from the census. This represents an increase from 2008 data that showed the percent of jobless moving to the state at 6 percent. While this may get to Decker’s point, it doesn’t prove it entirely. What it means, according to the latest data, is that less than 1 in 10 people who move here are unemployed, which is not a big number.
The state Department of Public Instruction gave the results of new N.C. Final Exams to Superior Court Judge Howard Manning to consider as part of his annual review of student achievement. Manning is charged with holding the state to its responsibility to provide children with a sound basic education, as required in state Supreme Court rulings. Read more here .
Goodnight urged Congress to pass the bills. Joining him were actress Jennifer Garner, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the lawmakers who introduced the bills – Sen Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and in the House, Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., the only congressional Republican who has declared support for the legislation so far.
“I’m the head of a company that receives 60,000 job applications every year,” Goodnight said. “Right now the top jobs in statistics, economics research and operations can take two years to fill because we simply can’t find people with the skills to do them. Read more here.