Those of us who consider ourselves moderates are following our state’s current events with interest and no small measure of amusement.
Ironic so many Republicans don’t believe in climate change since they brought about the biggest political climate change since the 1898 race riots in Wilmington. The 2013 upheaval is continuing in this short legislative session, as evidenced by the Senate budget. These “Grumpy Old Men” — ok, there are five women in the 33-member GOP Senate caucus — appear just plain unhappy but, to their credit, they truly believe what they are doing is right.
Education, especially the “Common Core” type, is the core of their unhappiness. They are unhappy that children can’t read, that our test scores aren’t better and we aren’t graduating students with the skills needed in the workplace, which makes it hard to understand why are they willing to throw out a more rigorous and uniform curriculum in favor of letting the same bunch that designed the last benchmarks do so again. Their carrot-and-stick teacher pay plan takes direct aim at NCAE and teacher tenure. And even though they appoint half the governing board they aren’t happy with the UNC System.
But they are apoplectic about Medicaid. The mention of DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos ignites a tirade and they apparently dislike hospitals and Community Care North Carolina (CCNC) almost as much. Their angst is so great they would take Medicaid away from Wos’ DHHS and transfer it to a new state agency they haven’t created yet, sunset the contract with CCNC and throw granny out on the curb by eliminating payments to the aged, blind, disabled and medically needy.
With Republicans having veto-proof majorities in the Senate and House and one of their own party in the Governor’s mansion you would think every day would be sweet tea and cookies. But Senate leadership barely tolerates Republican Governor Pat McCrory because he acts like he’s some kind of big deal in North Carolina. The disdain for the House, always somewhat evident, is almost as great.
Last week after secretive closed-door caucus meetings the Senate dropped the “B” bomb, their budget. House leaders were surprised and angry when they saw it. Next week the gloves will come off when the House passes their budget and differences become evident. Resolving them could look like a made-for-cable mud-wrestling contest as the Governor, the House and the Senate wallow around and spread their grumpiness, among other stuff.
Don’t count on significant Medicaid reform this session. It will be sacrificed to reach a budget deal. Lawmakers are boxed into teacher pay increases but how much and how it will be paid remain in doubt. They will deal with vouchers, Common Core, privatizing economic development and other significant legislation before balancing the budget with more spending cuts and adjourning, probably in mid-July.
Where are the Democrats? Their response is mostly limited to whining and gathering on Mondays at the legislative building to complain and get arrested.
Things aren’t likely to change much unless or until some positive leadership rises from the rubble that is the Democratic Party. When and only when voters, especially the unaffiliated 26 percent, see some responsible and specific alternatives to current issues and leaders they might vote for change at the ballot box, despite gerrymandered voting districts.
Meanwhile the entertainment is cheaper than reality TV and we don’t have to pay out film tax incentives.
Campbell is the executive producer and moderator of NC SPIN, a weekly panel discussion on state issues that airs on WMYT “MY TV12” at 10 a.m. on Sundays and on WJZY “CW46” at 6:30 a.m. and 11:05 p.m. on Sundays. You can also visit www.ncspin.com and click on the “Watch NC SPIN Online Anytime” button for streaming. Each week’s show is posted on Friday.