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Morning Memo: GOP faces messy veto politics, with Tillis in spotlight

UPDATED: THE POLITICS OF THE VETO: In pushing to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s of an immigration bill in coming days, Republicans find themselves in the middle of a political mess. The bill won near unanimous approval in the state Senate (43-1) but a solid block of conservative House Republicans voted against it (85-28). Now that McCrory has framed the bill as an anti-immigration conservative test, will that change? A leading Republican -- who voted no -- says the vote isn’t likely to change. And another no vote, GOP Rep. Frank Iller, issued a statement Tuesday saying the bill "opens up too many loopholes in the eVerify system."

EYES ON TILLIS: But what will Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis do? Political analyst John Davis said the race is too "fragile" for Tillis to upset the conservatives in his party. "Tillis cannot make any mistakes especially with the right," David said. "By rushing back into the arena and trying to override McCrory’s veto on the immigration bill, he does risk alienating some members of the Republican Party who are very, very sensitive about this issue."

***More on the 2014 U.S. Senate race -- and the potential Republican field -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

It takes 10,000 pages to answer Forest's Common Core questions

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is challenging the state's adoption of the Common Core education standards by asking the state's education department to answer 20 pages of questions (67 questions in all).

The State Department of Public Instruction received his request and asked him to provide 10,000 pages of paper so they could answer them, according to a Facebook post from Forest. The Republican said his office delivered the paper Friday and posted a photo online.

"Upon receipt of their reply to my letter, my team will methodically research all the answers supplied so that we can push this dialogue at the upcoming Board of Education meetings," Forest wrote. "I will keep you updated on the progress of this effort."

Forest is a member of the State Board of Education. No word on how much time and money it will take DPI to answer his questions or how long Forest's state-paid staff will spend going through the answers.

Morning Memo: House begins budget writing

WILL THE STATE BUDGET FINISH IN TIME? As the House begins crafting its own state budget this week, the phrase "continuing resolution" is being heard more frequently in the hallways at the statehouse. The idea is this: with the Senate's budget delay, will the House finish writing its own in time to get it approved before the end of the fiscal year June 30? And if it gets close, and House and Senate budget writers are still deadlocked in conference, will they need to find an escape plan to keep government running? House budget writer Nelson Dollar dismissed the talk in an interview last week, but House Democrats are openly discussing the possibility. "I don't see how it's going to be avoided," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a veteran Democrat. The state budget negotiations this year are complicated by House and Senate Republican leaders' attempts to imbed a tax overhaul that cuts government spending into the state budget, especially because the two chambers are so widely split on the issue.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: With money on the table, a strong lobbying presence is expected this week. A group of physicians will make the rounds Tuesday asking the House to put money in the state budget to pay for youth tobacco use prevention. House budget committees begin meeting at 8:30 a.m. Another House panel will consider the new school vouchers bill at 10 a.m. and a transportation committee will hear a ferry toll bill at noon. The House convenes at 1 p.m. but there are no bills on the calendar. The Senate convenes at 4 p.m. but will also hold a skeletal session with no action expected. Gov. Pat McCrory plays Mayor Pat again Tuesday morning in Charlotte, speaking to the local rotary club. Elsewhere, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will honor military spouses at an even in Fayetteville.

***Read more Dome Morning Memo below to get a roundup of North Carolina political news from the holiday weekend. ***

McCrory wants to revamp higher ed funding -- takes aim at UNC-Chapel Hill

UPDATED:Gov. Pat McCrory said he would propose legislation to overhaul the way higher education is funded in North Carolina, putting the emphasis on job creation not liberal arts and taking specific aim at the state's flagship university.

"I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs," McCrory told conservative talk show host Bill Bennett, the former education secretary for President Ronald Reagan, during an interview Tuesday morning. (Listen to the audio here.

McCrory echoed a crack the radio show host made at gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, a top tier public university. "That's a subsidized course," McCrory said, picking up the argument. "If you want to take gender studies that's fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job."

Dan Forest will 'encourage personal responsability'

If elected, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Forest says he wants to emphasize education. He might want to start with spelling.

His latest campaign flier misspelled "responsibility." The N.C. Republican Party paid for the mailer -- which Forest authorized. Dome's not immune to typos so it's a good thing we're not running to control the state's No. 2 elected post like Forest.

Tom Murry's first TV ad focuses on education in tough re-election bid

UPDATED: Tom Murry's mom stars in the Republican lawmaker's first television commercial, touting his education bonafides: smaller classes, merit pay raises, less bureaucracy. 

The 30-second spot debuted Monday and will appear on targeted cable TV stations for a month as Murry looks to distance himself from his Democratic rival in one of the hottest state legislative races in the state.

North Carolina's education funding fight hits the streets

Americans for Prosperity isn't the only group touring the state this week talking about the Republican-drawn budget, as the educating funding battle hits the streets.

A "Truth Squad" car sponsored by Progress NC, a liberal advocacy group, is following AFP's billboard truck around the state shouting "Real Solutions or Real Distortions?" along with numbers about the cuts to education. (The video above was shot Tuesday in downtown Winston-Salem).

Morning Roundup: Democratic hopefuls vie on education platform

The Democratic hopefuls for governor spent yesterday debating education -- though none of them landed a major punch against each other. Republican Pat McCrory took a few jabs, but a N.C. Association of School Administrators forum was largely polite. Read the full article here.

In other May 8 primary news, the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions remains largely misunderstood. Heck, 7 percent in a recent Public Policy Polling survey think it legalizes gay marriage. Read more about the confusion and what it means for the referendum here.

And the division is no surprise if you read about a forum on the so-called marriage amendment from Charlotte. Observer reporter Michael Gordon has the story.

In other news, one of the many Republicans running for Congresswoman Sue Myrick's seat left the race, leaving 10 standing. More here.

Morning Roundup: GOP balks at Perdue's pre-K funding

Gov. Bev Perdue announced an additional 2,000 spots for children in the state's pre-kindergarten program Wednesday - the latest move in her confrontation with the legislature over preparing at-risk 4-year-olds for school.

Republicans in the GOP-led legislature were quick to balk at Perdue's action. Rep. Justin Burr, an Albemarle Republican, called it a political stunt. "I guess I'm glad that she finally read the budget and realized that this money has been sitting there," said Burr, who co-chairs a House committee on early childhood. Read more here.

Legislation that would protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits over drugs that have been approved by federal regulators has been resurrected in time for the short session this spring. Read here.

As previewed yesterday, here's more on Obama campaign manager Jim Messina's thoughts on the 2012 election in North Carolina.

Debra Goldman announces for state auditor

Wake County school board member Debra Goldman announced today that she would run for the position of state auditor.

In her announcement, the Cary Republican argued that she would be the watchdog that she charges has been lacking in the position now held by Democratic incumbent Beth Wood, who is seeking re-election. Goldman charged that Wood and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue “have excelled in both creating and ignoring scandals."

"The taxpayers of North Carolina have grown fearful of the end result of the increasing number of public financial scandals, reports of fiscal mismanagement, and the dire emergency resulting from shoddy and fraudulent Medicaid casework," Goldman says in a statement. "Even worse, North Carolinians have lost faith and confidence in their elected officials to the point of becoming cynical of their own state government and inured to the abuse of trust by our elected officials."

A member of the Republican majority elected to the board in 2009, Goldman becomes the third GOP-backed member to announce plans to run for higher office this year. Board member Chris Malone is running for a seat in the General Assembly and John Tedesco is running for state schools superintendent.

Goldman broke ranks with her Republican colleagues on several issues, including Tedesco’s plan to draw up a new zone-based assignment system. The fall election of a new Democratic majority to the school board means Goldman faces being in the minority through the rest of her term, which expires 2013.

Goldman points to her independent streak in her announcement.

“While serving as a leading member, and Vice-Chair of the 16th largest public school system in America, I have always led in the fight to put reform ahead of partisanship,” Goldman said in her statement. “Some would call that being a ‘maverick,’ some have even called that being a ‘watchdog.’ While I was leading that effort on a local level, I can safely say that I saw nothing of that kind of leadership in the higher levels of our state government.”

 - By staff writers T. Keung Hui and Rob Christensen

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