Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s this week’s review:
Cooper vetoes: Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed eight bills on July 2, including three bills to reopen parts of the economy still closed under COVID-19 restrictions. The governor struck down another attempt to reopen gyms (House Bill 806), bowling alleys and skating rinks (Senate Bill 599), and amusement parks and arcades (House Bill 258). House Bill 686 prevents the governor from shutting down Fourth of July celebrations. Cooper vetoed it. The governor vetoed House Bill 652, which allows those with concealed handgun permits to carry firearms at schools located at places of worship. Senate Bill 105 requires the governor to seek concurrence from the Council of State before exercising his emergency powers under the Emergency Management Act. Cooper objected to the attempt to restrict his powers and vetoed the bill. House Bill 612 requires the Division of Social Services to submit any policies or procedures that might be considered rules to the Rules Review Commission for approval before July 1, 2022 or the rules would become null and void. House Bill 918 would make it easier for DSS to take into custody a baby born to a mother who abuses drugs or alcohol. Cooper vetoed both bills. Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, slammed Cooper’s vetoes of the reopening bills. “Governor Cooper’s scattershot executive orders are picking winners and losers instead of delivering real results for the people of North Carolina,” Moore said in a news release.
Elon Poll: In a recent poll from Elon University, nearly 50% of North Carolinians believe COVID-19 restrictions aren’t restrictive enough. The Elon Poll surveyed 1,410 North Carolinians from June 24-25. The credibility interval is plus or minus 2.8%. Of those surveyed, 46% said the restrictions around COVID-19 haven’t gone far enough, while 21% said they’ve gone too far. A little over 30% said the restrictions are just right. More than 70% of respondents support a face mask requirement, but only 46% said they always wear a mask in public buildings. Nineteen percent said they wear one most of the time, while 11% said they never wear a face mask.
Where’s the budget proposal?: The new fiscal year has started, but Gov. Roy Cooper has yet to release a budget request. Senate Republicans have noticed. “Where is his budget request? His failure to submit one is an abdication of responsibility during a crisis,” said Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, in a news release. Senate Republicans criticized Cooper for saying he’d wait for Congress to act before proposing a budget. The state is facing a $5 billion budget deficit because of COVID-19, but prudent budgeting will keep the state afloat, the news release reads. “During the last recession, North Carolinians paid some of the highest taxes in the southeast and Democrats still had to gut core services like education. Perhaps that’s why Gov. Cooper decided not to bother with a budget proposal this year,” said Sen. Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston.
Forest versus Cooper debate: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is ready to debate Gov. Roy Cooper on prime time television. Forest, a Republican, is running against Cooper, a Democrat, in the November gubernatorial race. So far, the two haven’t debated. If Cooper accepts, the two will square off on Spectrum News and CBS 17 in the Research Triangle. The debates would air statewide.
Virtual school audit: The N.C. Virtual Public School, formed in 2007, was blasted for its dismal performance in a June 30 state audit. Eight of 12 NCVPS courses didn’t meet curriculum standards, the audit found. Eleven of those 12 courses didn’t appear rigorous enough to ensure student mastery. Teacher evaluations were lacking. The audited courses also weren’t cited properly, running the risk of copyright infringement. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson disagreed with some of the findings. It was a “subjective test,” he said in a response attached to the audit. Johnson is currently facing other scrutiny from the auditor’s office. Last week, another state audit found DPI financial statements contained significant misstatements and omissions.