The N&O’s former cartoonist just couldn’t sit out this legislative session, not with all the fun things to draw. He’ll be offering his view every Sunday in The N&O during the session. Here’s this week’s cartoon (click it to enlarge it).
We have a rule against publishing Points of View submissions from elected officials, so you won't find this in the paper. But here's a look at the reasons four lawmakers – two Democrats and two Republicans – sponsored House Bill 944 or the Opportunity Scholarship Act.
The New York Times in an editorial today endorsed President Obama's choice of North Carolina's Mel Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Here's what the Times had to say:
Look for great deals at Kroger this week on produce, including green beans, zucchini, red potatoes, several apple varieties, and greens -- all for 99 cents per pound.
There's also a 50 percent off sale on Perdue boneless chicken breasts.
And a sad reminder: This week is the last to take advantage of double coupons at Kroger. The chain will no longer double coupons in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia as of May 12.
Keep reading for this week's top deals at Triangle-area Kroger stores -- with coupons and without.
Under the provided headline "More Federal Cooperation Is Needed To Unleash North Carolina’s Economy," Gov. Pat McCrory offers these thoughts before he heads to Houston on Monday for a governors' Outer-Continental Shelf meeting.
By Gov. Pat McCrory
To get North Carolina moving forward again, our administration is concentrating on reforms in three fundamental areas: the economy, education and efficiency. We’re making great progress on some complex long-term problems, but on two critical issues – health care and energy – we’re going to need the federal government’s cooperation.
On Monday, I will participate in a panel of Outer-Continental Shelf governors on the need to expand offshore energy exploration. In February during a White House visit, I asked President Obama directly to expand offshore leasing off the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. He told me the issue is being reviewed.
The time for delay is over. It’s time to get off the sidelines and allow the states to exert the leadership that will create thousands of jobs, reduce America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and protect the environment. The federal government must form a more cooperative partnership with the states so that more Americans – especially North Carolinians - can get back on the payroll.
There are estimates that opening up the Atlantic shores to energy exploration could create up to 140,000 new jobs during the next 20 years. These are good-paying jobs that will allow families to save and build an economic future.
There’s real-world evidence of energy’s economic contributions as well. North Dakota enjoys the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent (March 2013). Much of North Dakota’s economic success can be attributed to investments made in energy exploration on private and state lands. Growth has been so robust that energy production has surpassed agriculture as the state’s largest economic sector.
Offshore energy exploration would also provide significant returns to the public sector. Under a bipartisan plan recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, North Carolina would receive at least 27.5 percent of royalties and other energy revenue from lease sales off our coast. An additional 10 percent could be earned by making land-side investments in conservation and renewable energy projects. North Carolina could use the money. We have a long list of needs. Energy revenue could be used for additional investments in education, transportation and health care.
Federal cooperation is vital on another issue that deeply affects North Carolina – Medicaid.
Last week, we received news that Medicaid budget overruns from Gov. Bev Perdue’s administration will total $248 million, twice what was originally expected. The unpredictability of Medicaid costs and its adverse impact on the entire state budget is reason alone for reform.
However, budgetary concerns are not the prime reason we’re overhauling North Carolina’s Medicaid program. We’re pursuing reform so we can take better care of our fellow citizens. Our plan centers on the patient’s well-being, not just physical needs. We would like to provide mental health and substance abuse coverage. Our plan also calls for coordination with social service providers so that nonmedical needs that contribute to the patient’s healing process can be delivered. Our reform goals are simple. We want to do everything we can to get the Medicaid patient healthy sooner and provide him with avenues that will lead to a long-term, healthier life.
To implement this holistic approach, we’ll need a waiver from Washington. I hope the president approves this unconventional approach so we can take care of our Medicaid patients in a caring, comprehensive manner while at the same time reducing costs to the taxpayer.
Medicaid reform and energy are just two issues where the federal government needs to join North Carolina in solving problems that affect people’s everyday lives. I hope the president adopts our view that government must be a partner - not an adversary - to progress.
By working together, we can get North Carolina and the nation back on the right track by simply unleashing the unlimited potential of our people.
This formula has worked before. I guarantee it will work again.
Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten had a blog post this week on the interesting way some bills are moving through committees:
Triangle grocery stores have lots of good deals this week:
*At Harris Teeter, check out the dozens of BOGO deals. Paired with coupons, many of them are a terrific deal, including Quaker cereal for 69 cents per box, Smart Balance milk for 59 cents per half gallon and Finish Gelpacs for $1.64 per box. Without coupons, score Skippy peanut butter for $1.74.
*At Lowes Foods, be sure to check out the great deals on Ball Park hot dogs and Sanderson Farms chicken breasts, along with Mrs. Paul's fish, Wholly Salsa and California Olive Oil. There are also several opportunities to earn gasoline rewards.
*At Food Lion, there are good deals on boneless chicken breast (just $1.79 per pound), along with some nice produce deals, including 20-cent limes, 50-cent cucumbers, 59-cents-per-pound sweet potatoes, 79-cent mangoes and 79-cents-per-pound Roma tomatoes.
*And at Aldi, pick up avocados for 59 cents each, along with mangos and heads of lettuce for just 69 cents each.
Keep reading for a long list of this week's top deals at Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Food Lion and Aldi -- with and without coupons.
Here's an interesting letter about private school costs in Wake County and school vouchers from Karl Gaskins in Raleigh. It's too long for print but worth a read.
I googled private schools wake county. There were 83 results listed on one site. After I eliminated those that were nursery-kindergarten enterprises, I essayed to discover what tuitions were charged by the remainder. I was able to find, online, tuition information for about 43 schools, with a total enrollment of 16,473. I listed their tuition for the youngest elementary grade class they offered. I separated them into two groups: below $10,000 tuition (35 schools) and above $10,000 tuition (eight schools). Here is what I discovered:
Of the 35 under $10,000 schools, eight were less than $5,000, but not by much. They averaged $4,186. Enrollment was 1,289, or 7.8 percent of total.
The schools under $10,000 averaged $6,104. Not $4,900 as claimed by voucher supporters.
The schools over $10,000 averaged $15,998.
Tuition is not the only expense you encounter at a private school. Here are numbers published by one Christian school I examined:
New Student Application $100.
Resource Fee $480.
Capital Fee $360.
New Family Fee $500.
That’s over $8,000. For the first year.
Transportation to and from most schools is not provided.
There are unpaid efforts being made by teachers and others in many public schools in this state to package foodstuffs for some kids to take home for the weekend, because they would otherwise have little or nothing to eat until Monday when they get their breakfast at school. No one at home is making sure they do their homework. No one at home cares how they do at school.
What good is a $4,200 voucher to one of these kids? If the people they live with can’t or won’t keep them from going hungry, what is the likelihood they’ll come up with an average of $1,700 a year each, plus fees, to put them into private school and provide transportation for them to get there and back every day? There is not enough financial aid out there to offset this difference. What is the likelihood that these folks will start monitoring homework? What is the likelihood they’ll begin to encourage their kids to do well in school? Aren’t these the kids for whom a good education is most important, and most difficult to obtain, even when it’s “free”?
Many people further up the economic ladder would do everything they could to come up with the tuition difference, in hopes that their kids could get the most out of their education. But those kids are going to succeed in public school, because their parents are behind them and encouraging them and their teachers. These motivated parents and kids are critical to the success of public education. Their attitudes create and support the learning environment educators strive to provide.
I can’t think of any good reasons to reallocate resources from public schools to private schools. Characterizing this action as a business model in which competition is encouraged is cynical to the point of being venal. Encouraging the departure of motivated parents and students from public schools won’t make public schools more competitive. It will gut them. What football coach kicks his first string off the team and plays his third string because their less developed football knowledge, skills and motivation will enable them to perform better than the first string?
I am so old I attended segregated schools. Back then, private schools of any kind were few and far between, and were mostly either parochial schools or kindergartens. Do you remember when and why the big growth spurt in private schools across the South began? I certainly do. Lots of them called themselves Christian academies. Almost three-fourths of those schools I just looked at claim religious affiliation.
Vouchers aren’t for subsidizing better education for truly poor kids. They’re for subsidizing a second school system for the nice people, and for keeping those denizens of public schools who insist on being poor and ignorant exactly where they belong.
Look for great deals at Kroger this week on produce, including 99-cent pineapples, 99-cent blackberries and 99-cent-per-pound apples in several varieties.
There's also a nice deal on boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 per pound.
But the biggest Kroger news is the grocery chain's decision that it will no longer double coupons as of May 12. Read about Kroger's coupon policy change HERE.
Keep reading for this week's top deals at Triangle-area Kroger stores -- with coupons and without.
The Charlotte beer scene is growing so quickly it's hard to keep up. I wrote about this in a prior column -- and saw it first hand at last weekend's Hickory Hops Brew Festival. Most new brewery tents I visited had one thing in common: Charlotte.
A handful of Charlotte breweries are starting to appear more regularly in the Triangle. Beer Study in Chapel Hill is a good source for Olde Mecklenburg bottles and NoDa taps. Even the new Steel String Craft Brewery in Carrboro has a full slate of guest Charlotte taps for its opening, including Triple C. (More on Steel String in next week's column.)
To help get you up to speed, our colleague at the Charlotte Observer has a good primer of the seven breweries now in operation. Bookmark it for your next trip.