Here's a Wish List For the Legislature
Not that it will do any good, but here are some things we would like to see the North Carolina General Assembly do in its current “short session.”
- Keep it actually - you know - short. Avoid the temptation to slip in all kinds of ideologically and politically popular but diversionary sideshows. Stick to what bienniel short sessions are designed for, which is basically to pass a budget. Make this one a reasonable compromise effort that balances fiscal prudence with sensitivity to human and social needs in this time of great economic stress.
- Take an especially cautious approach to the fracking legislation recently endorsed by the N.C. Legislative Research Commission. This seemingly reckless approach could allow that controversial and environmentally threatening process of extracting natural gas to begin within our borders in a couple of years. And upper Moore County is part of the area that has the biggest target on its back right now.
No More Wee-Hours Sessions
- Forget all the closed-door maneuvering of the past few weeks and open up the budgetary process so North Carolinians can have a good look at it. And please: No more sneaky post-midnight sessions.
- Don't be in such a hurry to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for municipalities to annex nearby neighborhoods. One proposal that seems particularly unfair and unwise is a piece of legislation that would, in effect, negate the ruling by a Superior Court judge that favored several municipalities. Another bill would simply cancel nine annexations by other towns. Both seem like misguided and wrongheaded efforts to meddle in what should be local decisions.
- Give at least passing consideration to the recommendation by lame duck Gov. Beverly Perdue that the state sales tax be increased by a modest increment sufficient to restore some of the more damaging cuts to the K-12 school budget and replace some of the federal education funding that is now phasing out.
- At least listen with an open mind to proposals raised by the group called Together NC, which would go a bit beyond that suggested sales-tax hike by raising funds for other gutted programs by initiating a new income tax bracket on millionaires.
Strike a Balance on UNC Tuition
- Bite the bullet and make some difficult decisions regarding the complex of problems surrounding tuition in the University of North Carolina system. It's being presented as a Hobson's choice. Either (1) reject the hefty proposed tuition increases, which threaten to make it impossible for many working-class students to stay in college; or (2) approve the increases, which means the budget gap will have to be filled from other already-strained sources. Again, surely it should be possible to strike some fair and prudent balance.
- Turn a sympathetic ear to the group known as Action for Children NC, which held a rally Thursday urging that North Carolina stop automatically prosecuting 16- and 17-year-olds as adults - even for minor misdemeanors. Our state is one of only two in the nation that still follow that practice. The cases of young people who commit more -serious crimes would still be handled the old way.
- Put an emergency stop to the transfer of -public school funds to an out-of-state, for-profit company that operates "virtual charter schools." That stinks to high heaven.
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