One of the largest concerns for current students, prospective students, faculty, and staff in the UNC system is how the state legislature, which controls nearly all of the system’s overall budget, selects and interacts with the System’s leadership. Looking at political contributions made by the Board of Governors, the governing body of the UNC system, and to NC lawmakers who make the appointments brings to light how budgetary and other crucial decisions about the UNC System are made.
Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) was the only original NC Promise Plan sponsor to receive contributions from current members of the BOG. His biggest contributor is Michael Williford, who contributed a total of $24,700 to Meredith between 2012 and 2018. Williford was appointed to the Board in 2015, and received his JD from NCCU, another HBCU within the system that is not slated to be deeply impacted by the Promise Plan, but is currently facing criticism for erasing the culture of the university.
The 2017-2018 Budget made waves amongst affiliates and community members of the UNC system when it became clear that significant budget cuts would impact several colleges and universities, especially the system’s five HBCUs.
Since 2011 the UNC system has dealt with cuts,including $414 million in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the legislature. The system faced financial aid tuition revenue caps and the consolidation of 46 degree programs. The original version of the 2017 Budget included a $4 million cut to the UNC School of Law that was reduced to $500,000 in compromises before the budget’s final passage. Senate Bill 99, the 2018 Budget, included new changes to create the NC Promise Plan.
The NC Promise Plan was sold as an attempt to address the growing college affordability crisis. Claims of enrollment increases at impacted universities have sparked celebrations of the renewed accessibility of higher education in NC. However, the budget language about NC Promise is cause for concern about the longevity of the universities impacted
Section 10.5 G.S. 116-143.11 says “the State shall ‘buy down’ the amount of any financial obligation resulting from the established tuition rate that may be incurred by Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina…” A buy down is a mortgage-financing technique where the buyer attempts to obtain a lower interest rate. According to Business Insider, buy downs usually cause the property seller to raise the purchase price to compensate for the costs of the buy down.Read More
Rep. John Sauls is a Republican preacher representing House District 51. He served two terms from 2003-2006 and then retired, claiming to expand his congregation. However Sauls then retired from leading his congregation, handing over the pulpit to his higher-energy son, only to run for the NC House again in 2016. Since 2016 Sauls has served without distinction, sponsoring very few bills and missing many votes due to absences. He recently published Facebook ads listing the wrong district number and is known for being absent from floor votes and committee meetings. However, the votes he has been present for continue the Republican trend of prioritizing corporations and millionaires over the people in their districts.
Read on for more about Sauls’ record.
We’ve already covered the revolving door of lawmakers resigning from the General Assembly only to return to Raleigh a few months later. Former House Majority Leader Mike Hager started his own lobbying firm, Hager Strategic Solutions, shortly after his ‘cooling off period.’ Former house rules chairman, Tom Apodaca registered as a lobbyist in 2017 and started his firm, Vista Strategies. He has already amassed clients including Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Cable Telecommunications Network. Thom Goolsby also has his own firm, with clients including the NC Small Business Association and the Education Freedom Alliance.
In order to get a sense of exactly how much money lobbyists were funneling into North Carolina, we looked at reports issued by the Secretary of State from 2007-2016. In 2016, $45,307,721.63 was spent on lobbyists in North Carolina. This number is striking because, despite the fact that 2016 was an election year and therefore a “short” session, it is only a few hundred dollars fewer than 2013 spending and well exceeds 2014 levels. In 2015, more than $49 million was spent on lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly, compared to the just over $20 million spent just five years earlier. The overall trend is clear. Moneyed interests are spending more and more on lobbying the North Carolina legislature.
Last week the newest members of the UNC Board of Governors were sworn in. Missing was Henry Hinton, a Greenville broadcast executive and former BOG member who was not chosen by the House for another term on the Board. Hinton made the news in April for an email he sent to House leaders remin…Read More
While North Carolina residents are facing the possibility of being sprayed with garbage juice, the NC GOP is lining their pockets with money from the waste industry, which has donated at least $34,200 to GOP legislators overseeing debate on the bill.
House Bill 576 would allow for the aerosolization of leachate, an untested and unsafe method for landfills to dispose of their waste. Picture it as “garbage juice in a snow blower.”
And who would be most impacted by this legislation? Communities of color and poor, who are more likely to live near landfills.
The waste industry is in favor of the aerosolization of leachate because it is cheaper than other methods of removing waste and they have been donating big money to legislators who could advance the bill.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, has received $6,100 from the waste industry, the majority of which came from Ven Poole, the CEO of Waste Industries. Dixon is also the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, which received House Bill 576 on referral.
Speaker Tim Moore has received $8,600 from the waste industry, including contributions from Ven Poole and the Waste Management Pac. Moore voted in favor of House Bill 576.
Sen. Trudy Wade has received $19,100 from the waste industry, including donations from Ven Poole and the inventor of aerosolization, Kelly Houston. The contribution from Houston came when Wade was the chairwoman of a Senate conference committee charged with compromising on a bill containing language about leachate. Wade is also a member of the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee, which reported favorably on the bill.
Everyday, many rural North Carolina families wake up to the stench and residue of hog waste. It clings on their clothes, sticks to the walls of their houses, covers their yards, and for years it has prevented neighboring kids from experiencing the fun of an outside birthday party.
Chinese-owned pork producers like Smithfield Foods are responsible for ruining the property values of nearby homeowners and small farmers. But their pay-to-play contributions to state politicians paved the way for House Bill 467, which gives special protections to the giant pork producers, effectively weakening nuisance laws and protecting them from a variety of legal claims.
Recognizing their blatant attempt to stop pending litigation related to 26 lawsuits filed against Smithfield Foods subsidiary Murphy-Brown, lawmakers narrowly voted to amend the bill so that it would only apply to future litigation. Yet 56 House members still voted to protect Smithfield Foods from current litigation by opposing the amendment.
Governor McCrory intervened on behalf of a donor and friend to extend a private prison contract over the objections of his own prison officials. Here are the facts: McCrory has received $12,000 in campaign contributions from Graeme Keith of The Keith Corporation, his son, and their busine…Read More