The House budget set for debut this week is expected to hew more closely to Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan, rather than the sharp direction outlined by the state Senate.
How it compares to those two plans is a legislative and political football. Not only must the chambers come together on a compromise plan by the end of the month, but Democrats are pushing House Speaker Thom Tillis to take a stand on the Senate’s plan, suggesting it may hold fodder for his U.S. Senate bid.
In an interview Saturday at the state Republican convention, Tillis didn’t talk directly about the Senate budget but his language suggested he was more comfortable with the governor’s direction.
“We are striking balance between some good ideas in the Senate’s budget and many good ideas in the governor’s budget,” he said. “I expect it to be well received by the governor.”
He is also hoping for a quick conference with the Senate.
As for teacher pay, Tillis said the House budget will maintain its promise to pay starting teachers more money and go further. He said a better economic outlook than anticipated will allow them to spend more. “I think what you’ll see is even more progress than we conservatively promised in February,” he said.
McCrory spent the last week pushing back against the Senate’s budget plan, outlining his concerns in Medicaid and teacher pay. In an interview Thursday, he said he is working with the House and Senate budget writer and described more specifics about areas he opposes.
The first is the operation of government. “As governor, I need to have the flexibility to manage the operations and not have the operations managed by the legislature,” he said.
No. 2 is teaching assistants. The Senate budget cuts thousands of them, even more than the budget did a year ago. “Taking such a large swipe of teaching assistants I don’t think is beneficial to our educational future,” he said.
House budget committees are expected to meet Tuesday with a full budget committee meeting Wednesday. The budget votes are expected Thursday and Friday.
*** Dome Morning Memo. ***
TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a press conference to kickoff the U.S. Open festivities in Pinehurst at 12:30 p.m. He will later attend an evening event in Pinehurst hosted by Open Doors for the Open, an evangelical outreach program at Village Chapel.
Back in Raleigh, the legislative action is slim. The joint program evaluation committee will meet at 3 p.m. in 544 LOB. The House convenes at 4 p.m. for a skeleton, no-vote session. The Senate starts at 7 p.m. and a final vote on SB743 to privatize some parts of the commerce department is expected.
The “Moral Monday” protest is scheduled for 5 p.m. and this week’s focus is education. How big the crowd gets – as it takes on the top issue this legislative session and one key to the November elections – will serve as a test for the movement’s power.
#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.
HAGAN ON TV: Democrat Kay Hagan is making her first television advertising buy in the U.S. Senate race. The Washington Post reports Hagan’s campaign bought $108,000 to air ads starting Tuesday in the Spartanburg, Raleigh, Wilmington, Greenville, Greensboro and Charlotte markets.
The cost of the buy is like throwing a penny into a wishing well, it’s unlikely to make a difference. Expect it to rise or expect few voters to see it.
HEADLINES: Karl Rove’s campaign group helped boost Tillis in the primary but it’s keeping a largely low profile in 2014. Read more here. North Carolina is ground zero for unemployment extension fall out. Read more here.
#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.
Sunday A1 -- SENATE LEADER BERGER’S SUPPORT FOR TEACHING ASSISTANT CUTS IS QUESTIONED: Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said in an interview that he is relying mainly on research from Tennessee and the United Kingdom that casts doubt on the effectiveness of teacher assistants in helping students learn, while other studies point to teacher quality as a more crucial factor in student results.
The Tennessee study, a major project begun in the 1980s and known as Project STAR, found little difference in test scores of children in kindergarten through fourth grade, especially after first grade, when comparing classes with and without teacher assistants.
But it concluded that classes of 13 to 17 children produced substantial improvement, leading to initiatives to reduce class sizes across the country; other research also suggests the lower the class size, the better.
An author of the U.K. studies, the deepest in the world on teacher assistants, said in an interview that his team’s research should not be used to support a move by lawmakers to cut aides, more commonly referred to as TAs. Read more here.
McCRORY PUSHES BACK AGAINST LAWMAKERS THIS SESSION -- AP’s Gary Robertson: ... McCrory, in his second annual legislative session, is making a more concerted effort to protect his turf and challenge legislative leaders in his own party to embrace more of his ideas. ...
The former Charlotte mayor disputes claims he wasn't assertive with the legislature in 2013 during his first year in office, pointing to several pieces of legislation he wanted that passed, including tax reform.
What's new this year, McCrory said in another interview last month, is that Cabinet members are now firmly in place — and presumably have a better handle on the political game in Raleigh. When the 2013 session began, Cabinet secretaries had been on the job for a few weeks. Read more here.
#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.
CONVENTIONS -- REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS SEEK TO UNITE DIVIDED FACTIONS: A month removed from an intense primary fight, Republicans sought to unite behind U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis at the party convention Saturday, even as the divisions remained visible.
Democrats met the same day in Raleigh to organize an effort to help re-elect U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, as the party seeks to retain one of its few statewide posts and recovers from a leadership dispute that crippled the party earlier this year. Read more here.
PHIL BERGER JR.’S TWEET DRAWS CRITICISM: The 6th District Congressional candidate sent a tweet last week that about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange that drew heat. See it here.
Berger’s campaign defended the move. From the News & Record: Gillum Ferguson, communications director for Berger’s campaign, said both Berger and his staff contribute to the Twitter feed, but he couldn’t say for sure who put up the tweet in question.
However, he did defend the posting. “What we’re trying to point out is that this is just another example of Obama’s reckless foreign policy and how his Twitter diplomacy has failed,” Ferguson said. Read more here.
MORE: Tidbits from the GOP convention. Read more here.
DEMOCRAT IS TRYING TO TIE McCRORY AND COOPER: Democrat Ken Spaulding’s is trying to get attention to his 2016 campaign for governor by posting a petition on change.org that coins a new political slogan: McCrooper.
The conglomeration of McCrory and Cooper’s names is designed to tie them together. It particularly hits Cooper for not fighting the state laws approved by the Republican legislature. It has a measly 47 supporters Monday morning.
QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.
Ex-job recruiters not sold on proposed state change. Read more here.
N.C. Senate wants investigation of medical examiners. Read more here.
Senate bill would clarify students' right to pray in NC public schools. Read more here.
State mental health facilities in NC going smoke-free this summer. Read more here.
Fayetteville still pushing bill to revive red-light cameras. Read more here.