by Brian Irving
For the seventh time in 10 years, the General Assembly was derelict in its duty to fulfill a major constitutional responsibility. The new fiscal year began without passage of a state budget.
It's no wonder North Carolinians have such a low opinion of government. Even though both houses and the governorship are controlled by the same party, they cannot complete this most basic government function. Although in session for six months, they've waited until the last minute to consider this important issue.
Not only were the competing budgets drafted in secret by a small, closed group of legislators, lobbyists and special interests group agents, these same people are now meeting behind closed doors to cut deals for a final budget. There's nothing fair, impartial, or reasonable, and certainly not democratic, about this process.
Perhaps if legislators actually read the state constitution they've taken an oath to uphold this problem wouldn't come up every year. Under that charter, the governor is responsible for drafting the budget. The state House and Senate can review it and make changes, and must approve it. But the fundamental responsibility rests with the governor.
There's no need at all for both houses to separately, and secretly, draft their own budgets – other than to score political points and provide cover for political favors.
by Brian Irving
The state can save up to $383 million in its budget if it uses a spending technique proposed by the John Locke Foundation in their latest Spotlight report. The technique is called "reverse logrolling."
"Lawmakers can achieve these additional savings by using a technique called 'reverse logrolling,'" "It flips traditional budget logrolling on its head," said Sarah Curry, JLF Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, the report author. Logrolling is a budget practice in which negotiators for both legislative chambers agree to accept higher spending levels for each chamber's budget priorities.
"This practice often results in a poor outcome for average citizens, as lower-priority or so-called 'pork-barrel' items are funded and mediocre legislation enacted," Curry said.
Budget negotiators should take the opposite approach, Curry said in a press release. "Rather than one set of budget negotiators accepting particular programs or higher levels of spending from their counterparts, with the expectation that those counterparts will do the same, legislators should agree to accept the lower spending numbers for each departmental budget," she said. "After all, a majority in at least one chamber already has decided that the lower spending figure will satisfy citizens' needs under current budgetary constraints."
She outlines how these savings can be achieved in the report, included a spreadsheet of potential department-by-department savings.
This is a commendable effort, which Libertarians support. The greatest obstacle we see is to get Republican and Democratic legislators to kick their spending habit.Read more
The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is seeking a replacement for executive director Brad Hessel, who will step down June 30 to pursue other business interests.
“We'll be focusing our search on candidates here in North Carolina,” said J.J. Summerell, LPNC chair. “We're looking for someone with strong managerial and communications skills, preferably with experience in politics or non-profits.”
“Hessel will be a tough act to follow,” he added. “But if we have to make a change, on off-year in the election cycle is a good time to do it.”Read more
by Brian Irving
LPNC Vice Chair
We commend Gov. Pat McCrory for courageously vetoing both Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 405 and we hope a sufficient number of state legislators have the equal courage to sustain these vetoes.
HB 405 was called the Property Protection Act, but it was clearly intended to provide cover for business owners who allowed unsafe or inhumane conditions in their businesses, and to punish anyone who took a job to expose the practices.
SB 2, with the equally disingenuous title Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies, would allow magistrates to refuse to do a job they were hired for, under the cover of claiming “any sincerely held religious objections.”
Both bills passed with bipartisan support, another proof that when it comes to expanding government power at the expense of individual liberty, both Republicans and Democrats find common ground.
Nor was either bill the result of any grassroots effort. They were pushed through a sham legislative “process” by those select few legislators and special interest groups who hold the real power in the General Assembly. What little debate there was consisted of straw-man arguments promulgated on both sides of the issue.
In short, a demonstration of everything that's corrupt and dysfunctional in our legislative process.