The question at the center of the House budget that comes to a vote today: Will the lottery gamble work? The answer is not certain, lottery officials say.
From today’s A1 story: The plan by leaders in the state House to finance teacher pay raises by juicing lottery sales includes language that clamps down on lottery advertising – and could make it difficult for the lottery to raise the millions projected for raises.
House leaders are budgeting $106 million more from the lottery to offer teacher pay raises, but that figure does not take into account more advertising restrictions that were also written into the budget, the lottery’s executive director, Alice Garland, acknowledged in an interview Wednesday. ...
Garland said the option House leaders adopted was presented without knowledge of the added advertising restrictions. ... Garland said the lottery hasn’t projected sales or profits for education that take into account effects of the additional ad restrictions. Last year, she expressed concern to lawmakers that the restrictions, which were adopted in the House but failed to advance in the Senate, would hurt sales. ...
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The lawmaker responsible for the restrictions is GOP Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam. And his support for the measure is the most surprising, given his ardent opposition to the lottery. The story includes an illuminating quote that speaks to the compromises Republicans must make to support this budget: “Am I happy about it? No,” Stam said. “I’m sanguine.” Read more here.
*** Expect a long day in the House on the budget debate, which even some Republicans want to change. Get a preview of a new ad in the U.S. Senate race. And more, below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***
TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory did not release a public schedule.
The House convenes at 8:45 a.m. to move a few bills. The budget must first go to the state personnel committee to consider a pension issue before it arrives on the House floor. The budget debate is expected to start about noon.
The Senate meets in an early 8 a.m. session so members can attend former Sen. Harris Blake’s funeral later in the day. A number of local measures are listed on the calendar, including a Raleigh/Durham annexation bill, and other measures from the House, such as unemployment law changes.
Acting Veteran Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson will visit the Fayetteville VA Medical Center to discuss its high wait times. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is sending aides from her office to meet him; she is remaining in Washington for Senate business.
At a 10 a.m. press conference at the state’s Department of Public Instruction, retired military generals from North Carolina will urge support for the Senate’s version of the Common Core bill (SB812), saying the program’s tough standards are key to military readiness.
#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.
CROSSROADS GPS STARTS NEW AD TODAY HITTING HAGAN: The Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, an issue advocacy organization, is airing a new television commercial that hits U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for her support of the federal health care law. The particular focus is the law’s cuts for Medicare payments.
The kicker: “Tell Sen. Hagan to stop defending Obamcare at the expense of our Medicare.”
It is part of the $3.6 million TV ad buy that started May 20 and stretches for a few months. By not expresssly advocating for Hagan’s defeat, it is different from the Crossroads super PAC ads. The Crossroads GPS 501c4 nonprofit group does not disclose its donors. See the ad at the bottom of the memo.
REPUBLICANS BLOCK STUDENT LOAN BILL – TILLIS WON’T TAKE A STAND: Republican action in Washington to block the student loan bill, a priority of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, is putting House Speaker Thom Tillis in a tough spot. He refused through a spokesman to say how he would have voted on the bill, much like a number of other issues recently. Read more here.
THE QUESTION REPUBLICANS WANT HAGAN TO ANSWER: From the party’s press release from Wednesday: “With Hagan eagerly accepting fundraising cash from Obama and the DSCC, the question now is when will Hagan and Obama campaign together?” More here.
GREG BRANNON EMERGES AS A COLUMNIST: From his debut at Rare.us, a conservative blog: In January 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama essentially pledged to shut down the American energy market with new regulations when he said, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Two years later his destructive rhetoric continued to flow through the administration’s hallways as federal officials threatened to keep the government’s boot on the neck of oil companies that hadn’t fell in line. And unfortunately, as we learned last week, President Obama fully intends to keep his promise of dismantling the domestic coal industry once and for all. Read more here.
#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.
THE MUST-READ TALKER -- DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKER, TILLIS TRADE HARSH WORDS -- From the Wilmington Star-news: State Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, said the film community was “double crossed” by House Speaker Thom Tillis, whose staff she claims actively worked to defeat a budget amendment to keep film incentive talks alive in the General Assembly. ...
In a rare interview with the StarNews, Tillis retorted that Hamilton’s comments were likely “born out of emotions” but that this “sort of behavior” makes her the “single greatest threat” to a compromise on film incentives in the state House. ...
After Hamilton’s “double crossed” comment, Tillis called the StarNews to defend his record on film incentives, saying he worked in the 2009-2010 session against an effort by the Democratic leadership to kill film incentives.
“I actively worked to prevent that from happening,” Tillis said. “I have a longer history of trying to work on this than Rep. Hamilton has in the legislature. I think her comments and activity are the single greatest threat to progress.” Read more here.
IS THE END IN SIGHT? POSSIBLY: The Senate leadership on Wednesday filed a joint resolution setting adjournment of the session on June 27.
The resolution calls for adjournment “sine die,” which means the General Assembly would leave town without a return date established. That would bring an end to the 2013-14 session. The current short session began May 14.
Of course, that’s still subject to change. So, we’ll see.
... AND WILL THE END INCLUDE A BUDGET? “We have a two-year budget in place. We don’t have to stay here and fix the budget,” Senate Rules Chariman Tom Apodaca said. Asked by the NC Insider whether he believed the budget process would be finished by June 27, Apodaca said: “I don’t know about that, but I think we’ll have all the necessary business we need done, and we can live with the two-year budget we passed last year.”
House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said Tuesday he believed the budget process could be complete by the end of next week.
THE BUDGET VOTE: House Republicans expressed concerns with their own $21.1 billion spending plan Wednesday, seeking to restore a handful of budget cuts, extend the film incentives and block the transfer of the State Bureau of Investigation.
The split among rank-and-file Republicans and GOP leaders generated a lengthy debate but did not stop two House committees from approving the budget proposal by solid margins.
The measure now moves to a full House vote Thursday with final approval expected Friday. Read more here.
LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: A controversial nomination by Gov. Pat McCrory to the state Industrial Commission was approved by a Senate committee on Wednesday, in a brief but tense meeting. ... The day after a Senate judiciary committee eliminated two controversial provisions from a bill on lawsuits – affecting liability claims against drug manufacturers, and restricting suits for asbestos exposure – the full Senate restored new versions of the provisions and passed the bill. ... Changes to the state’s “Read to Achieve” program are now law. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill Wednesday. ... Brasstown would be permitted to have its New Year’s Eve possum drop, under a local bill the Senate approved Wednesday that will become law. ... And more. Read here.
#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.
SBI PROBES SWEEPSTAKES CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal probe into campaign contributions from the video sweepstakes industry to some of the state’s top elected officials.
The investigation began several months ago but was disclosed Wednesday, amidst a battle for control of the SBI playing out in the General Assembly.
Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, confirmed that “the SBI is investigating campaign donations to state elected officials from the video sweepstakes industry.” The investigation was “initiated” by a federal attorney and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office and has been under way for several months, according to Talley. Read more here.
BUDDIES: As reporters staked out House Speaker John Boehner to ask about Eric Cantor’s defeat, he dined with Sen. Richard Burr. Read more here.
McCRORY LOVES THE U.S. OPEN: He flew from Washington on Wednesday to a military event at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst. Read more here.
QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.
N.C. panel tightens standards for water utilities. Read more here.
Obama lawyers seek end to Lejeune toxic-water case. Read more here.
Senate committee says charter schools subject to NC public records law. Read more here.
Hospitals have big stake in Medicaid debate in N.C. legislature. Read more here.
Charlotte Douglas airport bill clears Senate, on to House. Read more here.