Kay Hagan, Thom Tillis to Square-Off in First Debate

The first debate between U.S. Senate candidates Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan will be held Wednesday evening. The race has drawn national attention because it could decide control of the Senate.

Capital Tonight anchor Tim Boyum has a preview.

Capital Tonight Sept. 2: 1984 US Senate Race

On Capital Tonight: The 1984 US Senate race was one of the most expensive and contentious races in state political history. We take a look back at the race with Raleigh News & Observer columnist Rob Christensen. Insiders Chad Adams and Morgan Jackson preview the first US Senate debate.


Watch the full episode here.

New Hanover Co. Senator Thom Goolsby Resigns

WILMINGTON — New Hanover County Sen. Thom Goolsby has resigned.

He sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday about his plans to step down, effective immediately.

In the letter Goolsby mentioned he resigned because the budget-adjusting session of the General Assembly is over.

Now the executive committee of the New Hanover County Republican Party will meet within the next few days to fill his seat.

“I was a bit surprised like most people were but I completely understand his reasoning is personal, professional and political and I support him,” said Sam Ibrahim, chairman of the New Hanover County Republican Party.

But Elizabeth Redenbaugh, the Democratic candidate for his seat said this is purely a political move.

“It came as a complete and utter shock to me; however, voters here in New Hanover County and across the state deserve so much better. This is really a cheap political stunt that’s meant to prop up Michael Lee and is born out of fear,” said Redenbaugh.

She said based on a poll conducted by her campaign, the race between her and the Republican candidate Michael Lee is tight but she has the edge.

While all signs seem to point to Lee as the replacement, Ibrahim said it’s not definite.

“It is the decision of the executive committee, I cannot tell you here that he’s a shoo-in but I can tell you the process will take its place,” said Ibrahim.

In the last decade, two republican lawmakers representing New Hanover County have stepped down from their seat early. In 2004 the replacement did not go on to win the election however that wasn’t the case in 2012.

In January Goolsby announced he would not be running for re-election. He said he needs to spend more time with his family. Goolsby’s term expires in January of next year.

Michael Lee issued the following statement:

“Senator Goolsby is to be commended for his service to the people of New Hanover County. His service to our county and strong principles will be missed in Raleigh. As a family man, I know Thom is glad to be returning home to his wife and children and I wish him the very best.

“Change brings opportunities: new opportunities to forge relationships and to strengthen old ones. No matter what happens over the coming weeks, there will still be an election on November 4th, and I look forward to speaking with the voters of the 9th District about strengthening the film tax credit, improving education, investing in infrastructure, and bringing jobs to New Hanover County.”

Elizabeth Redenbaugh issued the following statement:

“Mr. Goolsby said that he resigned yesterday ‘to give [Lee] a running start.’ This is nothing more than a cheap political stunt driven out of fear because this race is extremely competitive. I believe the voters of New Hanover County deserve better. We deserve an experienced leader who will fight to restore funding and raise teacher pay to the national average to ensure that both our children and our teachers receive the dignity, value and respect they deserve. We deserve a leader who will give North Carolina companies the first crack at state contracts and who will advocate to keep our air and waterways clean. We deserve a leader who is not bankrolled by politicians in Raleigh who are playing games with our middle class. Thom Goolsby was not that leader and Michael Lee will not be that
leader either.”

– Breanna Walden

NC Senate Approves County Sales Tax Changes

RALEIGH—North Carolina’s Senate has agreed to a new omnibus tax bill allowing some urban counties to levy sales tax.

A new version of the tax bill surfaced on the Senate floor Thursday just before midnight and was voted on early Friday.

Under the bill, the tax could only be considered in the upcoming November elections.

The bill allows Wake, Guilford, Forsyth Mecklenburg counties to put a sales tax on the ballot, and caps it at 2.75 percent.

Guilford and Mecklenburg counties already have a quarter cent sales tax on the ballot, and Wake County is considering it. Under the bill, Wake County would have 90 days to decide whether to put the tax to a vote.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


NC Senate Approves Bill Capping Local Sales Tax

RALEIGH –A controversial local tax cap that would limit how much local counties can add to the state sales tax passed through the Senate Thursday morning.

The bill caps the local sales tax at 2.5 percent and passed with a 31-17 vote. The legislation requires that counties use additional revenues for education and transit or half for education or transit and the other half for general purposes.

The bill has the biggest impact on the state’s largest counties, Wake and Mecklenburg.

“I’m in favor of the additional authority for the other 94 counties, but you don’t have to pull Wake County down in order to pull the others up. In fact, building Wake County up, and building the Triad and Charlotte up helps these other areas because you generate the revenue to pay better salaries for teacher statewide, to develop transportation generally statewide and to take care of the critical needs of the state,” said Sen. Dan Blue, a Wake County Republican.

Wake County already collects 2 percent local sales tax and is discussing the possibility of asking voters to approve another quarter-cent this fall to increase teacher pay. The county just recently resumed discussion about a regional transit plan, which would require another half-cent sales tax to match Orange and Durham counties’ contributions to pay for it.

Supporters say one of the biggest benefits is that counties will be able to use that sales tax money for whatever they want, not just education and transportation.

“We gave them flexibility to allow them to be able to use it for education, transportation or transit, and also general purpose. So we actually provided more flexibility, more use and what this will do is go a long way to making it one prosperous North Carolina,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican.

If it becomes law, the bill would keep keep Mecklenburg County from holding a referendum in November to increase its tax rate for teacher pay raises as the local sales tax is already 2.5 percent.

The bill now goes to the House for approval.

– Heather Moore

NC Senate Approves Bill Capping Local Sales Tax

RALEIGH—The State Senate has approved a bill that would cap the local sales tax at 2.5 percent.

The bill, which passed with a 31-17 vote, will require that counties use additional revenues for education and transit or half for education or transit and the other half for general purposes.

If it becomes law, the bill would keep keep Mecklenburg County from holding a referendum in November to increase its tax rate for teacher pay raises and hamper Wake County from issuing additional taxes for transit.

Senators Take on an Aggressive Schedule for Coal Ash Clean Up

RALEIGH– A bill that many have said sets an aggressive schedule for clean up of coal ash sites says the plants need to be closed and cleaned within the next 15 years.

“This bill does it in a way that’s innovative, and in a way that will be copied by others,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca.

But while overall lawmakers indicated they believe the bill is on the right track, there are some concerns including how Duke Energy will pay for the massive cleanup at the 14 sites across the state.

“Now the corporation has made it clear that they intend to pass the cost of cleanup onto the rate payers, the people of North Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, I would suggest to you that the responsibility for that lies with the corporation and their share holders,” said Sen. Mike Woodard.

Woodard looked to amend the bill to demand the money does not come from rate payers, but a substitute proposal meant that amendment was never voted on.

Meanwhile, the efforts by lawmakers to make the coal ash plants by them become sites for cleanup took priority.

“This amendment would add the Cape Fear Power Station to the list of power plants that are guaranteed to be cleaned up,” said Sen. Valerie Foushee.

But bill sponsors say patience is a virtue and pushed back against efforts to move local plants to the top of the list for cleanup.

“I was so hoping, and I guess I was dreaming, we wouldn’t politicize this, that we could go down and set up an independent commission that would really take care of the people of North Carolina,” said Apodaca.

With a few changes the Senate did give an initial vote of approval to the bill.

The Senate needs one final vote on the bill before it is sent to the House for consideration.

– Loretta Boniti

Senate Officially Rejects NC House Budget Proposal

RALEIGH—A top state Senate budget-writer says differences with the House over Medicaid spending and the state lottery must first be resolved in negotiations for a final updated North Carolina spending plan.

Sen. Harry Brown of Jacksonville made the comments Monday night after the Senate formally rejected the House version of budget adjustments for the fiscal year starting July 1. The House passed its proposal late last week. The Senate approved their own about two weeks ago.

Brown says the two chambers are about $250 million apart on Medicaid spending, with the Senate setting aside more. He also says Senate Republicans don’t have much appetite for seeking extra lottery money as the House did by expanding advertising.

The Senate plans two days of budget committees this week to review the differences.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Rep. Rick Glazier: ‘Senate budget is a fake budget’

RALEIGH—The NC House is preparing a state spending plan proposal that is expected to  move through committee and be voted on over the next two weeks.
Work on the budget begins Tuesday when sub committees meet to go over both the governor’s proposal and the plan approved by the Senate. Budget writers say the proposal  is expected to have some substantial differences from the Senate version approved a few days ago.

“On Saturday morning we immediately began work going through the Senate budget, going through the governor’s budget, taking into consideration some of the things that house membership has already indicated that they either supported or did not support,” said Rep. Craig Horn, a Union County Republican.

The full appropriations committee and floor debate begins next week.

“Like a lot of what happens here, we have our own ideas. But let me be very clear,  the number one priority is to increase teacher’s pay,” said Rep. Horn.

Many people are waiting too see the House’s proposal, because they say the Senate plan is not one they can accept.

“I think the Senate’s [budget] is a fake budget. I don’t think there is any intent that it looks like that final product,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Cumberland County Democrat.

Since Glazier is a Democrat, he is not in the inner circle of people preparing the House plan. But he said some of the directives in the Senate proposal are among the worst he seen during his time in the legislature.

“You don’t say you are going to pay teachers and take away their tenure and say you have this obscene choice. That’s just cynical at best. Second you can’t tell teachers you are going to pay for your increase on the backs of cutting ten thousands of your colleagues,” said Rep. Glazier.

Gov. Pat McCrory is also looking for some changes to the Senate plan.

“We have some very serious concerns about the budget that was submitted by the Senate,” said Gov. McCrory.

Which means all eyes are on the House,  who says they are still working to come up with a finalized proposal.

Watch the video here.

NC Senate Approves $22 Billion Spending Plan

RALEIGH — The State Senate approved its state spending plan proposal just after midnight Saturday.

The $22 billion proposal created a lot of debate earlier in the night and resulted in a vote that was almost down party lines, with only one Democrat voting in favor of the measure.

The bill makes some major policy changes, including moving the State Bureau of Investigation and Crime Lab out from under the Department of Justice. An amendment was filed to remove that decision, but supporters of the change say it’s the right move.

The plan also gives teachers a big pay raise, but cuts their tenure to get it. It also begins to move Medicaid out from under the Department of Health and Human Services and cuts who’s eligible for Medicaid coverage.

There were very different pictures painted of the bill by supporters and opponents, with many Democrats saying it would cause harm and supporters saying it would help the state.

The bill moves to the house for consideration early next week.

– Loretta Boniti