An October surprise

By Steve Woodward

What spell did Democrats cast over Republicans when both sides, by a nearly unanimous joint-session vote, approved three nominees to the State Board of Education on October 2? Before that date, Republican majorities within the House and Senate refused to vote on Governor Roy Cooper’s nominees, and had declined to put forth nominees of their own.

In fact, a post on the Governor’s web site dated January 2019, accuses the GOP-controlled General Assembly of holding up approval of nominees as a tactic to postpone a January 11 hearing on allegations of voter fraud in the 9th Congressional district.

Prior to October 2, it seemed perfectly logical that a Republican-controlled legislature in Raleigh would stop a Democrat governor from attempting to stack the deck within the Board of Education. These days, the classroom is where American values go to die.

What changed in October? Even a left wing site, The Progressive Pulse, had no tangible explanation, characterizing the board confirmation as “a major turnaround.” This blog (RESOLVE) derives its name from an acronym: “Republicans for Security, Opportunity, Liberty and Victory that Endures”. Liberty requires transparency. Victory endures only when the victors prevail in the day to day of legislating.

In this case, it looks as if the Republicans caved. But, if that’s true, what leverage did Democrats bring to the joint session?

We asked Carolina Journal reporter Lindsay Marchello through an email exchange. Marchello reported the approval of J.D. Buxton, Wendell Hall and Donna Tipton-Rogers in a piece entitled, What You Might Have Missed. But it did not delve into an explanation for the about-face among all but a handful of Republicans.

“I assume Republicans liked the batch of nominations this year better than last year,” she replied by email. “As for J.B. Buxton’s nomination—which was denied last year with no explanation—I assume they approved him this year as a sort of olive branch to the Governor while the budget stalemate continues.”

It’s certainly a possible scenario, but why wave an olive branch at a governor who refuses to recognize the financial peril of Medicaid expansion, the cause of the budget stalemate? We are awaiting a reply from the office of NC-25 Sen. Tom McInnis in an effort to unravel this mystery. Also mysterious was a post on the web site of Republican House Speaker Tim Moore following the vote. It reported the General Assembly’s approval of the trio of board nominees, while introducing another surprising thread:

“Two other current board members re-nominated by the Governor (our emphasis) – James Ford and Jill Camnetz – were not voted on and will continue to serve on the SBOE pending further action by the General Assembly.” Do the math. Five Cooper supported board members now preside on the 12-member Board of Education. That’s five Democrats. A sixth is Reginald Kenan, a Southeast region board member. A seventh is SBOE vice chairman and Cooper appointee Alan Duncan, former chair of the Guilford County BOE. In other words, Republicans inexplicably helped tip the scales toward Democrat control of the SBOE.

And lastly, why were Republican lawmakers quoted within Tim Moore’s web site post gushing about the newly elected board members?

Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union): “I am happy the General Assembly is moving forward in confirming the Governor’s appointments.”

Rep. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga): “Each of the nominees confirmed today have distinguished backgrounds in education and are qualified for the role.”

Let us RESOLVE to keep asking questions about the October 2 surprise.

 

Subverting democracy

By Nicole Russell

North Carolina officials have made a deal with the transgender lobby.

Last week, they reached a settlement determining whether transgender-identifying individuals can use bathrooms that match their “gender identity” in public buildings.

The settlement allows these individuals to use the bathroom of their self-professed gender identity within buildings owned and operated by the state government, including state parks and historic sites.

Read more of this report by Nicole Russell published August 7, 2019, by The Daily Signal.

Russell’s conclusion:

This new settlement subverts the usual democratic process by dismissing constituents and the lawmakers they elected, acquiescing to the vocal wishes of a small group of elected progressives, the ACLU, and a handful of transgender activists.

Be vigilant Moore Republicans. Activist judges never rest.

Thwarting dirty politics

North Carolina Democrat legislators seem to forget they are the minority when the General Assembly is in session, and even express incredulity when Republicans use super-majority votes in representing the will of their constituents.

Of course, it never happened when the roles were reversed! But it was particularly amusing to watch Democrats try to protest when lawmakers returned to Raleigh July 24 to take up two timely bills — a House bill on wording Constitutional amendments on the November ballot, and a Senate bill essentially to stop a wholly inappropriate ploy by state Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin.

The House bill was in response to a battle over semantics in presenting six amendments to voters this November. It revolved around a typical presumption among Democrats that their constituents are not very smart and need dumbed-down wording to understand the purpose of the amendments. These are the same Democrats who expect to sell higher taxes as a way to spur economic growth.

However, Senate Bill 3 represents a home run by Republicans lawmakers. Passage of the bill thwarts Anglin from appearing on the ballot as a RINO (Republican in name only).

Carolina Journal offered some key insights into how the Stop Anglin story played out, one of which was the factual point that Republicans created the scenario whereby Anglin suddenly became a Republican.

Republican legislators canceled this year’s judicial primaries. They permitted no other process for the major parties to identify the candidate of their choice on the ballot. … Acting roughly 105 days before the election, the General Assembly clearly rewrote election rules in the middle of the process.

Yet no leading Democrat has stepped forward to disparage the chicanery on his side of the political aisle. References to Anglin have feigned ignorance about partisan political factors motivating either the candidate or his backers. It would have been easy for a (Democrat) legislator to distance himself from the Anglin team’s questionable conduct.

On the last possible day in June, Anglin flipped his voter registration to Republican and filed for the Supreme Court race. The Senate bill eliminates political affiliation next to Anglin’s name on the ballot by specifying that any candidate (for any office) may not realign with a different political party if filing 90 days or less.

It’s clear,” writes Mitch Kokai for the Journal, “to any fair-minded observer that — regardless of Anglin’s original intent — elements within the Democratic Party have latched onto Anglin’s candidacy as a tool to help blunt Barbara Jackson’s vote among Republican voters. Their ultimate goal is to help ensure (Democrat Anita) Earls’ victory.”

Far better for NC Republicans to absorb baseless criticism for “changing the rules” in the middle of the game than to have allowed Anglin to masquerade as a Jackson alternative.

Backing McInnis

At last, we move on down the path to the Fall mid-term elections. More than a few Moore County Republicans surely harbor lingering resentment about the lengths to which the state GOP establishment sunk to sink a primary challenge by Whispering Pines Mayor Michelle Lexo against incumbent Tom McInnis in NC-25 (although McInnis was no incumbent in Moore due to haphazard redistricting).

But in conceding defeat last week, Lexo took the high ground and graciously thanked her supporters. Republicans must now rally, reunite and take the high ground in embracing McInnis. Maintaining a GOP supermajority in Raleigh is priority one.

Although McInnis is facing a first-time candidate in Helen Probst-Mills, she is widely known in the community and not long ago hosted a fundraiser attended by Gov. Roy Cooper in her Pinehurst home. And that’s not all.

In its analysis of “races to watch” in 2018, the non-profit public policy web site RealFactsNC.com, makes the chilling observation that “the voters who sent (McInnis) to the General Assembly are gone (our emphasis) from his redrawn district.” Furthermore, fewer than half of NC-25 voters “have seen McInnis on their ballot before.”

Given that Moore County accounts for just under half of all voters in the district, this ostensibly means that Probst-Mills can legitimately make the same argument voiced by Lexo: I live in Moore; McInnis does not. (He counters by saying, legitimately, that he has owned property and paid taxes in Moore for 40+ years, and does, in fact, own a Pinehurst home).

The bottom line is that getting out the vote for McInnis is absolutely vital, and we must now leverage his backing from NC GOP heavyweights. Probst-Mills has fundraising chops, too, due to her status as a member of the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees (and her alliance with far-left SCC President John Dempsey), and ties to Cooper’s inner circle.

But she embraces several positions that will encounter fervent resistance in Moore County. Probst-Mills echoes the baloney from the left that North Carolina teachers are underpaid and that our schools are neglected. (Some are and yet school boards are not held to account). She favors further expansion of Medicaid, fueling the entitlement engine Democrats always seek to expand. And her campaign web site makes the unsubstantiated — if not false — claim that “people’s ability to vote is being curtailed” in our state. What a whopper!

Sen. McInnis holds a significant advantage that can be a double-edged sword for politicians. He has a voting record in the NC General Assembly. Opponents can use this as fodder. Unless, of course, a majority of Moore Republicans support McInnis’s positions on jobs and the economy, education and vocational options, and Second Amendment preservation.

These issues, if communicated effectively, will re-elect our Republican Senator. Get to know the issues and get to work!

 

 

 

 

 

Stave off the wave: Vote!

A “blue wave” is inevitable in 2018, the Democrats tell us, because Americans will reject surging economic prosperity and the restoration of our status as the indispensable world superpower. If this seems fundamentally illogical, you must remember that this is the party that supported a $1.7 billion cash ransom payment to Iran, and blindly backed deeply corrupt Hillary Clinton as the presumptive 45th President.

Early voting data in Moore County (through mid-day May 7) indicates Democrats will not be crowing, “Surf’s up!” after the May 8 primaries, which makes forecasting a blue wave (transferring power in Raleigh to Democrats) in the fall mid-terms equally tenuous.

In fact, the numbers to date forecast a “red wave”. A total of 2,718 voters requested a Republican ballot during early voting, compared to 1,158 who requested a Democrat ballot. We reported last September a statewide surge in unaffiliated voters since 2009. That trend is holding up this year loud and clear, and continues to bolster GOP support. The number of unaffiliated voters (UNAs) who have come out in Moore’s early voting will be at least 1,309, according to data compiled by CarolinaTransparency.com. They can request any ballot they desire. UNAs requested 246 Democrat ballots and 103 unaffiliated ballots. The remainder (960) requested Republican ballots.

These totals also reflect an increase in early voting participation across the board when compared to the most recent mid-term primaries in 2014. Four years ago, there were 1,642 Republican early voters and 638 Democrats. The comparisons are slightly skewed because early voting ran four days longer this time. But expectations that Republicans are unmotivated to vote in 2018 are not panning out so far.

Not only is a “blue wave” failing to build locally, but Democrats are seeing diminishing likelihood of a big national tsunami this November. On January 1, RealClearPolitics’ aggregated 2018 Congressional vote polling showed Democrats holding a 12.9% lead over Republicans. In other words, four months ago prospective voters indicated a preference for Democrat candidates in the ’18 mid-terms, 49% to 36.1%. As of May 1, that gap has been reduced by more than half, with the RCP average giving Democrats a 6.3% lead.

There are many votes yet to be cast on Tuesday, May 8. Be sure your’s is one of them.

 

NC: A pension fund model

The North Carolina Retirement Systems, the nation’s tenth largest public pension fund, experienced a 13.5 percent gain in assets in 2017. Those assets were valued at $98.3 billion, reports State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell. The performance of the fund’s investments exceeded projected annual growth of 12.8 percent.

On its face, this is great news. But the real strength of the state’s pension system is the extent to which these burgeoning assets cover pension liabilities. Literally dozens of states find themselves drowning in pension liability, and continue to spiral in the wrong direction despite years of dire warnings.

The fact that North Carolina is largely excluded from studies exposing the looming pension crisis across the country is a point Republican candidates for state legislative and U.S. House seats should hammer home on the trail in 2018. It is a tribute to sound fiscal policy, spending restraint and the absence of money starved unions.

Consider the alternative, outlined in this nearly incomprehensible report by The Rand Corporation’s Dan Grunfeld:

California leads the nation in pension underfunding. The numbers are staggering. Currently, the state government has approximately $464.4 billion in unfunded liabilities — the difference between resources that will be available in the state’s pension fund and what will be owed to retiring employees. … Nationally, state and local governments are carrying $4 trillion to $6 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities. That exceeds the combined military expenditures for every war, save World War II, fought by the U.S. since 1775.

Another way to gauge the financial health of a state’s pension fund is by examining funding ratios, the gap between funds on hand and projected pension payments. The higher the ratio, the lower the gap. North Carolina ended 2017 with a 45% funding ratio, fifth best in the nation, according to data gathered by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The national average is a woeful 33.7%. Wisconsin is the runaway leader with a 61.5% ratio; New Jersey (25.7), Mississippi (24.2), Illinois (23.3), Kentucky (20.9) and Connecticut (19.7) bring up the rear. New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut have been governed by Democrat majority rule for decades, while Kentucky and Mississippi have had divided legislatures with a gradual shift toward Republicans since 2000.

According to ALEC’s December 2017 report:

The funding ratio is the most important measure of a pension fund’s health. Applying the estimated risk-free rate of return to the actuarial assets and actuarial liabilities reported by pension plans generates a more realistic estimate of each state’s funding ratio.

Another instructive way to understand a state’s fiscal health relative to its public pension liabilities is as a measure of per-capita liability. North Carolina also ranks highly in this category. An individual taxpayer in North Carolina technically is “on the hook” for $10,944. That’s the amount each taxpayer would owe if and when the state’s pension funds come up short. NC ranks fifth behind Wisconsin, Nebraska, Indiana and Tennessee, according to ALEC’s analysis. The dubious distinction club on the opposite end is made up of Illinois ($30,336 per taxpayer), Ohio ($30,538), Connecticut ($35,731) and Alaska ($45,689).

Population size skews these numbers, which is why California, despite owning the largest collection of unfunded liabilities, has its citizens on the hook for less than the cellar dwellers at $25,166, but still the 39th highest per-capita liability.

It is hardly a coincidence that states where pension funding negligence is most acute are the same states from which folks are fleeing and finding refuge in North Carolina.