UPDATED: WHAT THE BUDGET SAYS ABOUT McCRORY: Columnist Rob Christensen -- "It suggested that McCrory is a pragmatic, moderate conservative – not a tea party Republican. The budget colored him an incrementalist with a modest vision of what government can or should accomplish. A governor’s first budget is particularly important because the governor is at the height of his or her power to push an agenda through the legislature. McCrory will never has as much leverage as he has today. So what did he do with his leverage?
"McCrory’s budget offered no sweeping vision of what he wants his governorship to be about. ... This may be sound management, but it is not the stuff of which legacies are made."
REPUBLICANS STACK THE DECK: The UNC Board of Governors elections in the House on Wednesday opened a chasm between Republicans and Democrats. The GOP elected mostly its own kin to the board, sweeping out all incumbents. Democrats voiceferously objected. But House GOP leader Edgar Starnes' response crystalized the debate: "I would just remind you of one thing. The Republicans won the election. We are in control. We intend to elect Republicans and appoint Republicans and we make no apology for it."
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TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: State lawmakers get briefed on the governor's budget this morning and the Senate Finance Committee will consider a bill to void the DIx lease negotiated by Gov. Bev Perdue before she left office and a House Finance panel will hear a . (More on that here.) A bill to muffle the state's consumer advocacy agency sits on the House calendar. (More here.
The House is also scheduled to consider a bill to make gun permit information confidential. But a committee on Wednesday stripped out the most controversial sections of the bill -- allowing concealed weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol. The House meets at 12:30 p.m.; the Senate at 11 a.m. McCrory will attend two events in Wilmington, a business conference and a Cape Fear Community College groundbreaking.
MORE FROM ROB: McCrory's balancing act: From the column -- "Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at N.C. State University, said the McCrory budget contrasts with the more ideological proposals coming out of the Republican legislature. “We have the governor taking a more moderate, pragmatic approach, more interested in issues of management and administration,” Taylor said. “The legislature is taking the bolder, more pre-emptive and ideological position on issues.”
It appeared that McCrory tried to perform a political balancing act – something that he also tried to do during his 14 years as a Republican mayor of Democratic-leaning Charlotte. He swung left when he proposed funding 5,000 more positions for pre-K programs, for fully funding Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, and increased funding for digital learning in the schools. He swung right when he called for de-funding public financing of judicial elections and for state parties, cutting state agencies by an average of 2 percent to 3 percent and abolishing the estate tax for people with more than $5 million, and ending future Golden LEAF funding to create jobs in rural areas.
The reaction to the budget proposal was all over the map and seemed a bit confused. There was both praise and grumbling from both the left and the right. Full column here.
BUDGET STORY ROUNDUP: The overview: The $20.6 billion budget represents 2 percent growth from the current year. Roy Cooper's not happy: McCrory proposes major personnel shift from Democratic attorney general's office. UNC system prez not happy, either: The reaction from the education community is mixed but system President Tom Ross is "very concerned." Less gas tax money: Falling gas tax collections mean less money for roads. Cartoon -- GOP seees different state branding messages: Charlotte Observer cartoonist Kevin Siers on McCrory's effort to rebrand the state, which is included in the budget.
BOG PARTISAN SPAT: Full story on the legislative fight about the UNC Board of Governors.
FOXX REPORTEDLY BEING CONSIDERED FOR TRANSPORTATION POST: President Barack Obama is considering Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for secretary of transportation, according to two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. Foxx declined to comment to the Observer before Wednesday’s City Council budget meeting. Foxx, 41, has long been rumored for a Cabinet position in Obama’s second term, and the mayor has said previously he would consider a move to Washington, D.C.
The mayor has not yet announced he is running for a third term in November. Foxx doesn’t have an extensive transportation background, though he is passionate about building the city’s transit system, including a controversial streetcar through central Charlotte. He is currently an attorney for Charlotte hybrid bus maker DesignLine. Full story.
OBAMA LOOKING TO CHARLOTTE LEADERS AND WHAT IT MEANS: First Congressman Mel Watt, now Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. President Barack Obama is reportedly considering each for different posts in Washington. If Watt take a job, Foxx is the presumptive frontrunner to replace him in the congressional district that snakes through the middle of the state south to Charlotte. But if Foxx also takes an Obama administration job, it's a wide open race.
RALEIGH CHAMBER TRIES TO BREAK UP WAKE COUNTY FIGHT: Business leaders tried Wednesday to persuade the Wake County Board of Commissioners and school board to compromise over school ownership and school board elections, but the effort fell flat. The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce urged both boards to resolve the issues on their own before pending state legislation passes. While school leaders were receptive, Joe Bryan, chairman of the Wake Commissioners, said he sees no need to negotiate before legislators give the county ownership of schools and change how and when the school board is elected. Full story.
SCOTUS STRIKES N.C. SETTLEMENT: The parents of a disabled North Carolina girl defeated the state on Wednesday, as the Supreme Court struck down a law allowing state officials to seize one-third of a medical malpractice settlement. In a 6-3 ruling that affects myriad states, the court ruled that the federal Medicaid law pre-empts North Carolina’s sizable claim. Though states can take some medical malpractice money to reimburse themselves for Medicaid costs, the court said the one-third amount set in state law was unreasonable. “The state has picked an arbitrary percentage,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in announcing the ruling. He described the North Carolina law as a “one-size fits all” standard. Full story.
PITTENGER PUSHES BACK AGAINST BANK REGULATIONS: U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger called for a lighter regulatory environment for community banks at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee today, saying that he's heard from community bank presidents in the Charlotte region who describe the post-Dodd Frank landscape as "oppressive." Full story.
NURSES FIGHT RESTRICTIONS: Nurse anesthetists from across the state packed a hearing room at the N.C. General Assembly on Wednesday to show their dislike of a bill that calls for a physician to formally supervise their work. The goal is to put into state law “a fundamental patient-safety standard,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican from Cary who is one of four primary sponsors of the bill. But opponents maintain the bill shifts accountability for anesthesia care to physicians, who may not be willing to take on the added responsibility or possible increases in liability insurance costs. Full story.