Capital Tonight Sept. 22: Pope Francis’ Visit

capital_tonight_francisOn Capital Tonight: We look at the political implications of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Our Insiders Morgan Jackson and Chris Sinclair look at Scott Walker’s departure from the Republican presidential race. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Sept. 21: The Onion Founding Editor Scott Dikkers

cap_tonight_22_jpgOn Capital Tonight: We talk with the The Onion’s founding editor Scott Dikkers about how satire plays a role in politics. The AP’s Gary Robertson and Colin Campbell of the News & Observer of Raleigh join the Reporter Roundtable to look at what’s left for the General Assembly. Watch the program here.

Chamber Votes Beginning for Final State Budget


Read the full budget bill here.

RALEIGH—North Carolina lawmakers are finally about to vote on a two-year spending and tax package that was supposed to be ready July 1.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday scheduled the first of two required chamber votes on their compromise state budget with House Republicans. The House could begin voting Wednesday. The bill would then go to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The plan spends nearly $22 billion and includes money for teaching assistants and driver’s education in schools. There are $750 bonuses for state employees and teachers. Teachers also get experienced-based raises.

The personal income tax rate would fall in 2017, but sales taxes also would soon apply to things like car repairs and appliance installations.

Senate Democrats complain the budget is being voted on too quickly after details were finalized in secret.

– Associated Press

Capital Tonight Sept. 14: Rep. Jason Saine on Budget Deal

capt_tonight_jpgOn Capital Tonight: Lawmakers finally unveil a new state budget plan. We get the details from reporters Loretta Boniti and Amy Elliott. House Finance Committee Chairman Jason Saine explains the proposed tax changes in the budget. Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News & Observer and Jeff Tiberii of WUNC-FM dig into the budget at our Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.

Details of State Budget Plan Released

budget_releasedRALEIGH—State lawmakers released their final budget proposal for the next two years.

Lawmakers met behind closed doors early Monday to talk about the deal. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore put the finishing touches on the plan late last week and held a news conference Monday afternoon to release some of the details about the $21.7 billion spending plan.

“It is a fair compromise.  we started off with two very different positions on a number of things. But the process worked the way it should,” said NC Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore.

The Senate will begin voting on the budget on Tuesday.

Budget Overview:

• 3.1% increase spending
• increase early career teacher pay
• preserves funding for driver education and teachers assistants
• Restores historic reservation tax credits

Other state employees will also see a one-time $750 bonus, as well as a 3 percent raise for highway patrol. But there will be no cost of living increase for retirees.

There will be optional grant money made available for local law enforcement purchase body cameras and there will be increased fees at the division of motor vehicles.

The budget was supposed to be in place July 1, but negotiations have dragged through the summer.

Both the House and Senate must vote twice in favor of the compromise before it goes to Gov. Pat McCrory. The governor raised questions over the weekend about the tax changes in the plan.

– Loretta Boniti

Capital Tonight Sept. 11: Bow Tie Caucus

Cap_Tonight_091115_FullOn Capital Tonight: The Bow Tie Caucus convenes to wrap up the week in politics. Sen. Joel Ford and Larry Shaheen join Tim Boyum. Watch the program here.

Gov. McCrory Signs Unemployment Bill

unemploymentGASTON COUNTY — A controversial unemployment bill is now law.

Gov. McCrory signed the bill in Gaston County on Thursday morning. It requires people who receive unemployment benefits to increase their contacts with potential employers from two to five times a week.

McCrory says this new bill will make North Carolina more competitive.

He also says the whole point is “helping people who can’t help themselves, while encouraging those who can.”

McCrory said this is a game-changer when it comes to unemployment benefits

“Getting a job is a job, and you should treat it as a job,” said McCrory.

Senate Bill 15 is an unemployment legislation that changes a lot, like requiring people to show a valid federal ID when collecting unemployment benefits

“A photo ID will ensure the person who deserves and qualifies for the benefits is the same person getting the checks.”

It also allows them to check criminal justice databases to make sure inmates aren’t applying for unemployment benefits, which happened two years ago in the state.

“In 2012, three Swane County jail inmates were collecting unemployment benefits while they were locked up. That’s not acceptable.”

One big change: people getting unemployment benefits now have to make five job contacts a week, up from the previously required two.

“The five contact can also be done via the Internet.”

But most importantly, McCrory says it’ll help people find jobs quicker, so they can get back on their feet.

“I care for the people trying to find employment, and we want to help you, but we also want you to help yourself,” said McCrory.

– Christina Watkins

Capital Tonight Sept. 9: Jeb Bush in North Carolina

cap_tonight_99_jpgOn Capital Tonight: We talk with prominent North Carolina Republicans who are supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president, as he visits North Carolina to announce his economic plan. Our Advocates Mitch Kokai and Kevin Rogers dig into Bush plan and state budget negotiations. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Sept. 8: Oral Chemotherapy Bill

ct_0908_jpgOn Capital Tonight: We look at a bill that would mandate insurance companies to pay for oral chemotherapy treatment in the same manner as they pay for IV chemo treatments. We talk with Eric Dunlap, a cancer patient who is advocating for the change. Our Insiders Wayne King and Brian Lewis take on the hot politics topics of the week. Watch the program here.

Differences Slowly Dwindle in State Budget Talks

senate_budgetRALEIGH— House and Senate Republicans have narrowed further the number of their differences that must be resolved before a state budget can be finalized.

Legislative leaders are continuing to say they are close to a deal, but there are still some big issues to work out before next Friday. Both the state House and Senate gaveled in for session on Tuesday, but the focus is on the work behind closed doors where budget negotiators are meeting.

“We are looking at Wednesday/Thursday, or Thursday/Friday, whenever we can get it done,” said NC Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore.

Senator Phil Berger said he would like to think that the few issues remaining can be worked out by weeks end, and allow the legislature to vote on a final budget by their current deadline of Sept. 18. But he said there are still a lot balls in the air.

“Like a lot of negotiations, until you have everything tied down and worked out, it is difficult to be overly optimistic about ‘We’re going to get it done by this date or that date.’ But we’re still working and we’re still going in the same direction, the right direction, we’re not going backwards at this point,” said Sen. Berger.

The chamber leaders are pretty tight-lipped at this point about what you will see when a budget is unveiled. But when asked what is left, they both are standing firm on the issues they highlighted at the beginning of this negotiating process as to what are top concerns.

“I think teacher assistants is the one that we really think of as being out there, Drivers ED. There were some environmental policies that were brought in at some point that are being discussed,” said Rep. Moore.

“We have all along had some concern with, ‘How do you put this budget together and do Medicaid reform and what’s the transition?’ So those are some issues that still need to be resolved,” said Sen. Berger.

Lawmakers currently have a deadline of Sept. 18 to get a new budget approved, or else they would need to approve fourth extension of the current state spending plan.

– Loretta Boniti