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McCrory signs a whole lot of bills

Gov. Pat McCrory has writer’s cramp, or he should. He signed 39 bills on Wednesday.

His office is highlighting HB903, a bill related to transferring credits from community college to the UNC system; HB146, which requires the state Board of Education to teach cursive writing and memorizing multiplication tables; and SB129, which prohibits issuance of a certain kind of debt.

Bill sponsors joined the governor for the signings.

Update: BTW, here are the rest of those bills: HB 10, HB 25, HB 32, HB 114, HB 125, HB 142, HB 301, HB 315, HB 361, HB 368, HB 383, HB 384, HB 407, HB 410, HB 449, HB 480, HB 532, HB 581, HB 591, HB 610, HB 687, HB 710, HB 774, HB 788, HB 789, HB 813, HB 821, HB 829, SB 208, SB 210, SB 252, SB 279, SB 433, SB 460, SB 603 and SB 634.

Community group pushes against payday lending bill

Action NC is fighting a proposal to bring payday lending back to the state, asking its supporters to call and write state senators in opposition to a new bill.

The Action NC email uses the example of a Raleigh man who ended up paying $5,000 interest over five years on a $300 loan as a reason the loans should not be legalized.

Payday loans are short-term, high-interest loans that borrowers secure with post-dated checks. The loans get their name because borrowers are supposedly using the money to tide them over until their next payday. Critics say the loans trap borrowers in debt they can't escape as borrowers repeatedly roll them over. The payday industry says the loans can be a vital source of emergency cash.

The state outlawed payday lending about a decade ago, but a new bill backed by a powerful senator, Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, and influential lobbyists aims to make it legal again.

Is this the best campaign sign ever -- or the worst?

Is this the best campaign sign ever -- or the worst? Rod Chaney is a Republican running for state House District 50, which covers most of Orange County. This sign is along N.C. 54 west of Carrboro.

Not sure what debt Chaney is referring to ... given that Republicans legislative leaders are touting their balanced budget. (Maybe Chaney thinks he's running for Congress?) A message sent to his campaign was not immediately returned.

Mitt Romney's TV ad focuses on debt under President Obama

Just like President Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney is launching a new TV in North Carolina today. 

Obama is talking taxes. Romney's spot is focused on debt -- and debt alone. It's not a clean cut topic. Here's a PolitiFact article looking at the debt picture under Obama.

See full text of ad below.

New Romney's "Dear Daughter" ad talks about debt

The presidential campaign of Mitt Romney is up on the air in North Carolina and other battleground states with a new ad talking about the national debt.

The ad also appears to be a way to reach out to women -- who disproportionally make up undecided voters.

New Obama ad goes after Romney on debt


The re-election campaign of President Barack Obama begain airing a new TV ad Tuesday that criticizes Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts. The ad says that when Romney was govenor, Massachusetts was number one in debt, fell to 47th in job creation, and had one of the worst economic records in the country.

The ad is airing in North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

UPDATE. Andrea Saul, Romney spokeswoman: "President Obama has overseen trillion-dollar deficits, soaring national debt and the first credit downgrade in history. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, closed a $3 billion budget shortfall, balanced four budgets, left a $2 billion rainy day fund and received a credit rating upgrade.''

State treasurer requests legislature grant more debt borrowing authority

The latest version of a debt affordability study issued by State Treasurer Janet Cowell again concludes that North Carolina has exhausted its debt capacity for another fiscal year, the Insider reports. 

The study recommends that state lawmakers avoid additional borrowing for the 2012-13 year to keep the state's debt service at the recommended level of 4 percent of General Fund expenses. "The slow recovery, in combination with the reduction of the state sales tax rate, has resulted in another year of no debt capacity," Cowell said.

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers on her debt deal vote

Tea party-backed candidates split on the debt ceiling vote 76-34 according to a Washington Post tally. U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican representing the 2nd Congressional District who received Tea party backing in her campaign, cast her vote for the final debt deal.

"It was not an easy vote to make," said the freshman from Dunn.

"The reason I voted for it - it has no tax increases in it, it cuts spending greater than than the ceiling, it puts in place effective spending controls, and (it has) a balanced budget amendment," she said.

The final deal requires Congress vote before the end of this year on a joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment. Passage is not required.

Under the deal, the Pentagon is facing at least $350 billion in cuts over a decade.
Ellmers said those cuts can be made without harming soldiers, their families or veterans.

Ellmers has been a constant presence on national television in the last few weeks.

She was on Fox & Friends on Monday morning and on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer in the afternoon. She had to miss a schedule appearance on Lou Dobbs last night because the House was still voting.

Voters from the district catch her on television, she said, and call the office and post on her Facebook page.

"It draws attention to North Carolina, it draws attention to our district, who we are and what we stand for," she said. "We think it's great."

Basnight wants borrowing for historic lodge

Senate leader Marc Basnight sent Gov. Perdue and other statewide elected officials a letter today asking them to approve borrowing $3.3 million to continue renovations of a Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge in Hyde County.

The lodge, built in 1915, is on the National Historic Register. The state is in the middle of renovating it.

"Not only is this a one-of-a-kind historic structure that should be preserved," the Manteo Democrat wrote, "but we have made a commitment through state and federal laws to complete the job."

The debt Basnight wants approved was one of the items the Council of State postponed at its meeting this month.

Officials decided to put off a decision on issuing $175 million in debt for building repairs and repair projects. The elected officials said it was a bad time to borrow with the state facing a $3 billion-plus budget hole.

The projects have been approved by the legislature, but the Council of State needs to approve before bonds can be sold.

"It is a small amount of debt," Basnight said in an interview."It would not affect our debt or credit rating at all."

The 2006 federal law giving the state the lodge specified that the state would restore it. The legislature pushed for the law because the state was keen on repairing the building and there was no guarantee the federal government would move fast enough, Basnight said. 

The state so far has spent about $5 million on repairs. The total cost to restore it will be about $12 million.

Bowles confident he can run universities, help fix debt

UNC system President Erskine Bowles has no fear that he can, oh, juggle the leadership of one of the nation’s top public universities while simultaneously righting the foundering ship of our country’s troubled financial situation.

"I’m pretty well known to have a strong work ethic," Bowles said in an interview today, Barb Barrett reports. "I’m not afraid of getting both jobs done."

President Barack Obama introduced Bowles, a Charlotte resident, at the White House this morning as the Democratic co-chairman of a new debt commission, formally named the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

The 18-member commission is charged with developing a list by December of ways to cut the nation’s deficit.

It has been a political football this week, with Republicans calling it little more than a "blue-ribbon panel" that won’t help with immediate needs.

Still, Republican congressional leaders are expected to appoint members to the group.

"This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. This is an American challenge," Bowles said. "If we don’t (solve it), there’s going to be real problems.

"From a university perspective, if we don’t get this deficit in hand, there’s not going to be any money to invest in education and innovation and research."

Bowles said Obama called him about a week ago about the commission, asking for his help, promising that "everything would be on the table" and telling Bowles that the president had selected a Republican co-chairman in former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming.

"I knew that was someone who was serious and someone I could be proud to be their partner," Bowles said.

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