newsobserver.com blogs

Tag search result

Tip: Clicking on tags in this page allows you to drill further with combined tag search. For example, if you are currently viewing the tag search result page for "health care", clicking on "Kay Hagan" will bring you to a list of contents that are tagged with both "health care" and "Kay Hagan."

Morning Memo: McCrory administration slanted Medicaid report

McCRORY BOOED IN HIS HOMETOWN: For his 69th birthday party, Charlotte attorney Bill Diehl rented out The Fillmore at the N.C. Music Factory, hired rockers Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and invited around 400 of his closest friends, Jim Morrill reports. Among them: Gov. Pat McCrory.

When the band took a break, Diehl grabbed a mic and introduced McCrory, who was greeted with a loud smattering of boos. It wasn't the first time the former Charlotte mayor -- elected and re-elected seven times -- has heard boo birds in his hometown. In Charlotte, at least, the popular mayor has been a less popular governor. This summer he appeared at a concert at the Bechtler Museum. When he was formally introduced, many in the audience booed.

MUST-READ: For months, members of the McCrory administration have maintained that the state’s Medicaid program is "broken." But in the first of a two-part investigation, North Carolina Health News shows McCrory officials sat on information that would have depicted the state’s much-lauded Medicaid program in a better light. Read it here.

***More from the N.C. Health News story and an important notice to readers below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

State Board of Ed talks about "flat pathetic" teacher pay

State Board of Education member John Tate wants the board to back a resolution to bring teacher pay in the state to the national average.

Tate sprung his proposal on the board this week, calling teacher pay "flat pathetic." Teachers and state employees received one 1.2 percent raise in the last five years.

After years of concerted efforts to raise teacher to the national average, North Carolina was ranked 25th in 2008 by the National Education Association. The state has slipped since then, and is close to the bottom of national rankings.

"I feel like we have to send a message to our teachers as soon as possible," Tate said.

Morning Memo: Cooper's unofficial debut; peek inside GOP voters' minds

ROY COOPER'S DEBUT: Attorney General Roy Cooper is the featured speaker Saturday morning at the N.C. Democratic Party's Western Gala. The speech at the women's breakfast will serve as his unofficial debut in the 2016 governor's race. In recent weeks, Cooper has made his intentions to run clear and the event will give him a platform to begin gathering Democratic support as other party challengers emerge. Later in the evening, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and R.T. Rybak, the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will speak at the party fundraiser.

***A must-read analysis of Republicans and its potential impact on the N.C. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Lt. Gov. Forest calls for massive teacher pay hike

Tea Party conservative Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants North Carolina to have the highest-paid teachers in the country, and thinks wireless broadband Internet should be in a every school.

The Greensboro News-Record reports Thursday that Forest called for the ambitious goals at a small meeting of conservatives in Greensboro on Wednesday.

Raising teacher salaries wouldn’t require a tax increase, he said.

“I think there’s plenty of money in government,” he said. “We’ll figure out a way to do it.”

The newspaper quoted Forest as saying a project to bring high-speed computers to schools could happen by 2016, but raising teacher salaries could take a decade or longer.

North Carolina average teacher pay is currently ranked 46th in the country.

Morning Memo: Two more headlines raise heat on McCrory administration

MORE HUGE SALARIES AT DHHS -- Secretary hired staffer from husband’s firm; McCrory’s office says he does a “helluva” good job: An adviser to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has been paid more than $228,000 by the state for eight months of work.

The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a personal services contract with Joe Hauck to serve as “senior adviser” at the agency. The initial contract was extended at least four times between March 1 and Aug. 1, and was modified at least once to pay him more “due to increased hours of work per day,” according to a state Department of Health and Human Services contracts website. According to DHHS, Hauck started under contract in January to work in Wos’ office. The contract is now set to expire Nov. 30, and it is capped at $310,000.

TIMING OF SHANAHAN’S DEPARTURE RAISES MORE QUESTIONS: Kieran Shanahan’s unexpected resignation as head of the state’s public safety agency in July came as he appeared to be making long-term plans to remain in the job. Three days before he resigned, efforts were underway to complete his clearance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that he could be designated as the state official eligible to receive sensitive information in North Carolina about terrorist and other threats.

Also, the Office of State Budget and Management planned to have a “strategic” budget meeting with Shanahan on the day before he departed, which Shanahan indicated he would attend.

***Read more details on the latest two stories to sidetrack the McCrory administration below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Civitas: Use that $10 mil on welfare recipients not teachers

Gov. Pat McCrory’s surprising announcement Wednesday that he would not execute a newly enacted law is drawing criticism from at least one conservative group.

The Civitas Institute began Tweeting and posted a clear message on its website: “Tell Governor McCrory to enforce the law.”

McCrory said he would not let his Department of Health and Human Services begin implementing a new law that allows drug testing of welfare applicants if social workers suspect there is a reason to. McCrory had vetoed that bill, but this week the General Assembly overrode him.

The governor said the General Assembly hadn’t come up with a way to pay for the drug testing. But there is $9 million in a budget reserve that can be used for pending legislation, and this program is estimated to cost $145,000 to get up and running.

The true costs won’t be known for about a year, after the testing details are worked out. But that has no impact on the current budget.

There's also the question of a governor's authority to ignore the constitution, which requires him to carry out the law.

Civitas suggests McCrory use the $10 million he “found” to pay for bonuses for teachers who earn masters degrees and instead use it to screen welfare recipients for drugs.

Morning Memo: GOP moves to limit early voting as budget debate begins

REPUBLICANS MOVE TO CURTAIL EARLY VOTING: Republicans are moving in the final days of the legislative session to cut early voting by a week, limit Sunday voting and curtail some voter registration efforts in a sweeping bill that is expected to debut Tuesday. The measure also may advance the state's presidential primary to a week after South Carolina's first-in-the-South contest. The last-minute election measures will appear in a Senate bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. (Check Dome for more on the bill later today.)

EDUCATION FOCUS OF BUDGET DEBATE: The N.C. Association of Educators is threatening to sue over the tenure provisions in the state budget. State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said for the first time in her 30-year career, she fears for the future of public education. “I am truly worried about the ongoing starvation of our public schools,” she said. “I see other states making a commitment to public education. In our state I see in this budget we’re cutting teachers, we’re cutting teacher assistants, we’re cutting instructional support.”

With education as the focus, the House and Senate will take budget votes Tuesday and Wednesday as they race toward the end of session.

***More on the state budget and other North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TB test shortage stymies teacher hiring

A proposal to delay testing new teachers for tuberculosis got some push-back from House members on Tuesday. The House Education Committee held off voting on the bill.

The state Department of Health and Human Services sent a memo to local health departments earlier this year telling them that there is a shortage not only of a drug used to treat TB, but of the protein used in the skin test to screen for the lung disease.

DHHS advised health departments to put off routine skin-test screening, including in cases of employee hiring.

That advisory puts a crimp in teacher hiring. New teachers or those returning to the classroom are required by law to get the TB skin test.

Education committee members balked at the bill, which would allow school districts to put off the test requirement. Members questioned an open-ended deferral and whether the shortage was nationwide. The bill got pulled from consideration.

The National Centers for Disease Control reported in April a nationwide shortage of the skin-test product.

Berger introduces second wave of education reform: teacher pay, tenure, school grading and limits on year-end tests

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger on Tuesday unveiled what he called the second round of education reforms aimed at holding schools and teachers more accountable for students’ progress – including ending tenure and grading entire schools.

“The days of accepting a broken education system in North Carolina are over,” Berger said at a news conference flanked by several Republican senators. “We must continue to demand better and positive change for our kids.”

Berger characterized the plan – outlined in Senate Bill 361, filed Tuesday – as one that will improve literacy and graduation rates.

1363721687 Berger introduces second wave of education reform: teacher pay, tenure, school grading and limits on year-end tests The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

N.C. House meets with superintendents, teachers, principals on education changes

Groups of superintendents, teachers and school principals will be in Raleigh this week to offer legislators advice on new education laws.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Mecklenburg Republican, said legislators want to know from people who work in schools every day what can be done to improve results and how the changes legislators are considering will mesh with existing rules and practices.

The confabs are beginning early in the session so "they feel comfortable with first, providing us with ideas but also challenging us when they see legislation moving that they believe may be operationally problematic."

Tillis doesn't expect harmony on all issues. There will be bills on providing tax money to help public school students pay tuition to attend private schools. Tillis expects pushback on that idea, but that superintendents and legislators will have to "agree to disagree" on that.

The public meetings with educators this week will be from 11 a.m. -1 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, in the House Chamber.

Superintendents are scheduled for Tuesday, local principals of the year for Wednesday, and local teachers of the year for Thursday.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Go
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Go
Homes View All
Find a Home
Go

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of dome.newsobserver.com. Click here to register or to log in.
Advertisements