Archive for May, 2015

ROUND ONE FOR BUDGET

This week the N.C. House of Representatives will send a proposed state budget that approaches $22 billion. Total spending would be about $1 billion more than for the current year, thanks to a $400 million-plus surplus in tax collections and $600 more in federal and miscellaneous revenue. House members want about $400 million added to the Rainy Day fund which is used for emergencies. (Think unforeseen hurricane damages, etc.)

Representative Nelson Dollar, senior appropriations chain, noted that $410 million of the new money supports growth in population and services. Schools are expected to have 17,000 additional pupils, plus there is growth in Medicaid, universities, and correctional inmates.

The budget from the House adds $434.7 million for salaries of teachers and state employees. The starting salary for a new teacher jumps from $33,000 to $35,000. All personnel get a 2 percent hike. Some $168 million is earmarked for economic development.

Tuesday the House appropriations committee was in a marathon session that lasted until 9:30 p.m. as over 100 amendments were voted on and most rejected. On Wednesday, House leaders were “making minor adjustments” to match the revenues as adopted by the Finance Committee with the spending plan.

FINANCE COMMITTEE HAS ITS SAY

This week started with the Finance Committee adopting a state revenue plan for 2015-16. A highlight was a transportation package which raises $300 million in fees and gasoline taxes. North Carolinians will pay more for license renewals, registrations and other services from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Diesel fuel would be taxed at five cents per gallon more than regular gasoline.

Representative John Torbett, chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Committee, noted that DMV charges have not risen in 10 years. He also reported that 80 percent of the new revenue will be used for the resurfacing and maintenance of existing roads and highways throughout the entire state.

The House plan did not include the single-factor sales formula for corporate taxes, but the Senate is fully behind the concept.

WE MADE THE CUT

Operating funds for the Textile Technology Center and the Manufacturing Solutions Center are in the House document which goes to the Senate next week.

CAN WE DO MORE?

There has been suggestions over the more that HTGAC members would benefit from meetings that would pull industry executives and key personnel together. Such meetings could include marketing, legislative, technology, or other areas important to our operations. Bellow in this issue is a questionnaire which will help us determine if this should be explored. Please take a few minutes to give us your input.

To Meet or Not to Meet. That’s the Question

The Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council now focuses on lobbying in the North Carolina General Assembly. We’ve been at it for 23 years. Protecting the funds for the Textile Technology Center and the Manufacturing Solutions Center—the engines for our research and development and prototyping—has topped our agenda. This year we added corporate tax reform to the list.

But do you think we should do more? Please answer this survey to give us some direction. Your input really matters.

(1) Do you think industry meetings should be added to our program?
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(2) How often should the HTGAC hold meetings?

(3) Should a meal or reception be part of the format?
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(4) What topics should be addressed?
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(5) Are you willing to participate in planning and programming?

Name (optional):

Email (optional):

Company (optional):

Thank you for your support!

To Meet or Not to Meet. That’s the Question

The Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council now focuses on lobbying in the North Carolina General Assembly. We’ve been at it for 23 years. Protecting the funds for the Textile Technology Center and the Manufacturing Solutions Center—the engines for our research and development and prototyping—has topped our agenda. This year we added corporate tax reform to the list.

But do you think we should do more? Please answer this survey to give us some direction. Your input really matters.

HALF-WAY HOME

Over 500 bills have passed either the Senate or the House in the North Carolina General Assembly. Almost 200 of these bills were approved in a marathon session on April 30 which lasted until 2:30 a.m. in the House. Sometimes it is true: watching laws being created in the Legislature is like watching sausage being made. Not pretty.

A number of bills did not make the crossover deadline. Among them was the Religious Freedom Reform Act which allowed businesses and government officials to refuse to provide services to same-sex couples, similar to the Indiana legislation. North Carolina lawmakers listened to to opposition from some of the state’s leading business leaders, including Jim Goodnight of SAS Institute, and top executives from IBM and Red Hat. After that, House Speaker Tim Moore declared the bill dead.

Still alive is a bill that would allow magistrates to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples on religious principles.

Dead bills have a way of coming back to life even if they died in the crossover process. They can be inserted in the budget. Or the language can be inserted in a bill that has been altered. Slight-of-hand is an art form in politics.

BUDGET TIMETABLE

House Speaker Moore has announced the first version of a budget will be rolled out on Monday, May 18, with floor votes scheduled for May 20-21. The budget goes to the Senate where it will meet revisions. The House will reject it and then it goes to conference. The official date for approval of a budget is July 1—the beginning of a new fiscal year. However, budget negotiations have been known to go on months after July 1.

A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

State officials this week celebrated a milestone. The $2.8 billion unemployment insurance debt the state owed the federal government has been paid. The state ran up the debt in the midst of the Great Recession when thousands of workers filed for unemployment compensation, drawing checks for six months or longer. The GOP -controlled Legislature approved major changes to the unemployment insurance laws and made paying off the debt a top goal. The $2.8 million is almost 12 percent of the annual state budget.

WHO PAYS FOR WHAT?

Budgets require revenues and state and local governments are frustrated over how much taxpayers are to pay and to whom. Cities and counties are approving budgets not knowing if sales tax revenues are to be re-distributed. And will local governments have to raise ad valorem tax rates to fill the gaps? Major changes are on the table to boost revenue for the Department of Transportation, including higher auto insurance assessments, user rates and more. The changes proposed by the House Transportation Committee would add anywhere from $368 million to more than a half billion to the annual revenues to the State Department of Transportation.

HTGAC MEMBERSHIPS

Those companies that have yet to renew 2015 memberships: we need your help. The agenda this year has been especially intense as we have added reduction of corporate taxes and regulatory issues. If you have not renewed, please use the application form attached.

ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES

The format for TRENDS is being revamped to accommodate advertising. Trends is an e-commerce publication that goes out weekly to 754 people in the hosiery and textiles industries, and to state legislators. Contact us for additional information.