The General Assembly passed a Continuing Resolution to extend the budget discussions through September 18th. This means that we are running off of last year's budget while we work to reach an agreement for the current fiscal year. Not only does the Continuing Resolution keep us running on last year's budget (there is no government shutdown), it contained an increase in education funding (to account for growth in enrollment) and a six percent increase in starting pay for teachers.
The state budget is due each year on July 1st. If the budget is not done in time, then the General Assembly can pass a resolution to delay the deadline. Historically, it is not uncommon for the budget deadline to be extended. This is the longest that we have been overdue in more than 10 years, but there have been times when the General Assembly did not complete a budget until November or December.
At this point, we are still engaged in discussions between the House and Senate to reconcile differences in the state budget. Although we have yet to reach an agreement, I believe we are very close to doing so. I am cautiously optimistic that we will reach an agreement within the next few days.
Conferring with Rep. Jay Adams on the House floor before session.
Protecting Child Identity
It is my honor to be a primary sponsor of HB 607 - Allow Protected Consumer Security Freezes - which was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory last month. The bill, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously, allows parents to freeze their child's credit in order to prevent identify theft, which has become a serious problem for children. The same protections will be allowed for disabled adults who have a legal guardian.
With Rep. Graig Meyer at a press conference on HB 607.
Regulatory Reform Bill Advances
It is my honor to be the lead sponsor of HB 651 - Appraisal Board Record Keeping & Background Checks - which provides regulatory relief for small businesses and independent contractors in the real estate appraisal industry. The bill passed with strong support in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory.
Attending a bill signing with Governor Pat McCrory.
Facts About Public Education Funding
There has been misinformation in the media about state spending on public education. Some people have claimed that the legislature has cut the education budget and reduced spending on public schools, which simply isn't true. We spend 55.9 percent of our state budget on education with an increase of nearly $1.2 billion over the last four years.
Last week I wrote a guest editorial in the Rhino Times to explain what the facts are related to education spending. Click on the link below to see my editorial, which includes graphs to help explain how revenue is spent:
Other Issues Under Consideration
Aside from the state budget, there are a few other issues that may or may not be taken up before we adjourn the 2015 legislative session. These issues include Medicaid reform; the Connect NC Bond; economic incentives; and changes in the local sales tax distribution formula. As of now, it is uncertain as to whether we will vote on these topics this year or wait until next year's legislative session.
2016 Presidential Race
There has been a lot of focus lately on the Republican presidential primary. Personally, I believe we have a strong field of contenders on the Republican side. It will be fascinating to see what happens in the race over the next few months.
We need a president who is willing to work hard and remain dedicated to solving the major problems that are facing our nation, such as the national debt, excessive regulations, and a frivolous tax code.
On the Democratic side, it looks like Hillary Clinton is in trouble. She is under investigation for misuse of her private email server while she was Secretary of State, which has become a serious liability for her campaign. As of now, it seems likely that Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race. Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, has been gaining traction in some of the early primary states.
Move Presidential Primaries to March 15th?
There has been an effort in the legislature to move the presidential primary in North Carolina to March 15th, which will allow our citizens to have more input in the presidential primary process (it would be in effect for the 2016 elections). The bill that would make these changes is currently in conference committee between the House and Senate. The major question is if the regular primaries (congressional, state and local offices) will remain in May, or be moved up to join the presidential primaries in March.
Happy Labor Day
Here's hoping that you and your family had a happy and safe Labor Day. I hope you had a fun and relaxing holiday!
More Updates Soon
That's it for now. I will provide more updates in the near future. As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Quote to Remember
"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it."
- Margaret Thatcher
Rep. Jon Hardister