NEARLY HALF VOTERS CONSIDER SAY #NCGA CAUSING NATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT: One of the more intriguing poll numbers in the latest monthly Public Policy Polling survey due out later today: 45 percent. That's the portion of voters who believe the N.C. General Assembly is causing the state "national embarrassment." The poll question comes after a number of hot-button legislative issues received national attention -- and ridicule. Another 31 percent don't think the state legislature is a blemish and another 24 percent are undecided. (More from poll below.)
TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: No rest for the weary this week on Jones Street. The Senate appropriations committee meets at 8:30 to discuss its $20.6 billion state budget. Democrats will raise objections but no significant changes are expected. At the same time, the House Finance Committee will consider a major immigration bill that is drawing increasing fire from the ACLU and others concerned about Arizona-type provisions about stopping and detaining people who did not enter the country legally. At 11 a.m., the House Education Committee will get its first look at a new private school voucher bill. Senate and House floor calendars are light after crossover week's flurry, but the House will give final reading to a bill limiting tolling of existing highways.
Gov. Pat McCrory will meet with the Philippine ambassador at 8:45 a.m. in a private meeting and later attend a N.C. Department of Transportation luncheon. McCrory will speak to a group of under-45 CEOs as part of the southern chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization conference and travel to Charlotte this evening for a forum with the city's other current and former mayors.
***This is the Dome Morning Memo. Read more new exclusive PPP numbers below and get more insights into the state budget. ***
McCRORY APPROVAL, LEGISLATURE DISAPPROVAL HOLDS STEADY: About 48 percent of North Carolina voters approve of the job Gov. Pat McCrory is doing so far, according to the newest PPP poll from the Democratic-firm. Another 38 percent disapprove and 14 percent are undecided. The +10 is a slight drop from his +13 in the April PPP but within the poll's 4 percentage point margin of error.
Only one-quarter of voters approve of the state legislature with the majority (51 percent) disapproving, the survey showed. The numbers are a slight improvement from a month earlier -- despite the plurality considering them an embarrassment, which is probably just a reflection of their still-weak approval rating.
SENATE BUDGET -- The big picture: The state Senate’s $20.6 billion budget signals a fundamental remake of state government in which some health care providers who treat poor people will be paid based on efficiency, teacher pay will be based on merit, and low-income people receiving medical care at no or low cost will have to pay more.
PRISON CLOSURES:Major changes in the two-year budget include closing the state’s three treatment centers for drug abusers and alcoholics, eliminating all dental hygienists from the state Division of Public Health, and dissolving rural economic development partnerships while shifting the job to Raleigh state offices.
5,600 JOBS ELIMINATED: In advance of Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan to change the state Medicaid program to privatized managed care, the Senate proposal would withhold 4 percent of payments for some health services to create a pool of money to reward providers who meet efficiency and performance criteria. These weighty changes come with reductions in state jobs, more than 1,600 in all. That’s not counting about 4,000 teacher assistant jobs to be lost with a change in how classrooms are staffed.
NO PAY HIKES: Unlike McCrory’s budget, the Senate proposal includes no broad raises for state employees or teachers.
UNC SYSTEM: UNC leaders were happier with the Senate proposal than McCrory’s, which had a bigger overall cut and a 12 percent tuition increase for out-of-state students at some campuses. The Senate budget proposes no tuition increases beyond those already approved by the UNC Board of Governors. “It’s far better financially than the governor’s budget,” said Charles Perusse, chief operating officer of the UNC system. Get more budget details here.
COOPER WARNS ABOUT SBI TRANSFER: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors from across the state say an N.C. Senate proposal to move most of the State Bureau of Investigation under the governor will hamper political corruption probes. Full story.
RURAL CENTER TARGETED: In their quest to dismantle commissions and organizations created by Democrats in past years, N.C. Senate Republicans are taking aim at the granddaddy of them all: the state’s Rural Economic Development Center. The proposed Senate budget defunds the Rural Center, which received about $16.6 million in the state budget last year. It also creates a new division with the Department of Commerce to oversee rural economic development. The fight is over money, who gets to spend it, and who gets credit for spending it. Full story.
NCGA PROTESTS GROW: The crowd inside the state North Carolina Legislative Building has grown larger each Monday as has the number of demonstrators arrested by General Assembly police. The chanting, songs and political speeches that had rumbled through the second-floor rotunda were muted by the repeated zip, zip, zip of General Assembly police pulling out plastic ties to bind the wrists of the protesters. Since April 29, nearly 160 people have been arrested while protesting at the Legislative Building. The first Moral Monday demonstration brought 17 arrests, the next brought 30, then 49. This week, General Assembly police took nearly 60 protesters to the Wake County Detention Center, where they will be jailed briefly and given a date to appear in court. Full story.
McCRORY GETS BORDER QUESTIONS: From The Daily Herald -- "Halifax County Commissioner Vice Chair Rives Manning questioned McCrory on proposed tolling on Interstate 95, to which McCrory replied that is not in his plans. McCrory expressed concerns towns near the Virginia border have trouble being competitive with Virginia considering North Carolina’s gas tax.
"After taking questions and comments, McCrory retired for a stroll down the street, stopping at Simply Divine Cakes for some ice cream and a complementary red velvet with cream cheese icing cup cake from owner Shannon Warren. “He had lemon and cookies and cream (ice cream) mixed,” she said, then laughed. “I’m thrilled he got to taste my work.” Full story.
GOV GETS QUESTIONED ON ELIZABETHE CITY STATE CONTROVERSY: From a local TV station -- "NewsChannel 3 is questioning the governor of North Carolina about the investigation at Elizabeth City State University. The investigation began after a student reported she was sexually assaulted by a residence security officer. She says campus police did nothing.
"Governor Pat McCrory made an appearance in Elizabeth City and we asked him what he’s doing about the situation. “The first responsibility of government is to protect its people,” he says. Gov. McCrory told NewsChannel 3 he’s aware of what’s going on but won’t get involved unless requested by local officials. “I will say this, that the Board of Governors, the people I’m appointing for the trustees and that are now being appointed to the Board of Governors, they’re going to be asking the tough questions on every university campus to make sure money is being spent wisely and efficiently,” he says.
"But, NewsChannel 3 wanted to know what he’s going to ensure the safety of students at ECSU. We asked several times, and got a similar response each time. “Again, I repeat what I said. The safety of students on any college campus is foremost and I know your mayor believes that and hopefully the changes will be made and the university will recognize that priority also,” he says." Full story.
COMMISSION WON'T STAY RATE HIKE: Duke Energy Carolinas’ 2012 rate hike will stay in effect as the N.C. Utilities Commission reviews it under order of the state Supreme Court. In a rare move, the high court reversed the rate increase in April and sent it back to the commission. The court upheld Attorney General Roy Cooper’s claim that in allowing a 10.5 percent return on common equity, or profit margin, the commission didn’t independently assess the hike’s impact on customers.
On Monday, the commission refused Cooper’s request to put the 7.2 percent rate increase on hold during the review. Full story.