Archive for July, 2016

NEW POLLING DEMOGRAPHICS

The Wall Street Journal-NBC polls have added a new demographic to polling: people who have land lines versus mobile telephones. In the N.C. presidential race, Clinton gets 39 percent of the vote from people who have land lines and Trump garners 43 percent: For mobile phone voters, it is reversed: 47 percent for Clinton and 35 percent for Trump. At this stage among overall voters, Clinton leads Trump 45 to 41 percent.

In the governor’s race, home line voters tie—47 percent for both Cooper and McCrory. Cell phone voters are 50 percent Cooper and 44 percent McCrory. Overall definite voters give Cooper the edge—50 percent to 45 percent.

Burr maintains an eight percentage lead over Ross in the U.S. Senate race. However among cell phone users, the race is a 44 percent tie. Burr’s greatest strength is among independent and white voters.

NEW LEADERSHIP FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND POSSIBLE IMPACT ON OUR RESEARCH CENTERS.

On July 1, a new president took over the North Carolina Community Colleges system. Jimmie Williamson is the first leader of the North Carolina system to be recruited from outside the state. As the former president of the South Carolina Technical College System, he will bring experience in industrial recruiting and support for specific jobs training programs.

At his first meeting recently with the State Community Colleges Board, Williamson acknowledged that he has a steep learning curve as he gets to know the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina system. He plans to participate in 10 regional meetings where he will meet all presidents and trustees chairs.

Given Williamson’s background with a system that emphasized technical training, it might be expected that the programs of the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center will fit into his comfort zone because the centers support manufacturing growth and success. The MSC and the Textile Technology Center also have ties to the Legislature and Williamson has identified strong relations with state lawmakers as a top priority.

Williamson has appointed Jennifer Haygood as his chief of staff to handle day-to-day operations as he focuses on building relationships across the political and education spectrum.

Before taking the reins of the South Carolina technical colleges, held a leadership role with a healthcare company which gave him the opportunity to see what the colleges had to offer for workforce training. He later served as president of two technical colleges.

In North Carolina, Williamson will confront a different mission. The legislature four years ago adopted the N.C. Guapphiranteed Admissions Program (GAP) which would channel least prepared university applicants to a community college for their first two years of study. The UNC system has been pushing for a delay while community colleges say they are ready to move forward.

Raleigh observers think a new era for community colleges may be on the horizon.

OUTDOOR RETAILER SHOW

Socks, apparel and textiles manufacturers will be among the exhibitors at the summer Outdoor Retailer Show Aug.3-6 in Salt Lake City, UT. Also participating will be representatives from the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textiles Technology Center who will be promoting testing and prototyping services.

FEETURES EXPANDS

Feetures, the socks company owned by Hugh Gaither, recently announced it was expanding its warehouse and shipping operations in Hickory. The company maintains administrative and sales offices in Charlotte. Feetures socks are sold in sports specialty stores throughout the U.S. The management includes Gaither’s sons. Most Feetures styles are sourced off-shore.

N.C. SLIPS IN RANKINGS

Over the past decade CNBC business channel has ranked North Carolina first or second as “the best state for business.” This year Utah ranked the best, with Texas the second best. North Carolina was fifth. The judges for the CNBC poll said North Carolina would have ranked second had it not been for the “bathroom bill.” The reference was to provisions in House Bill 2 that restricts use of public restrooms by transgender people. Major corporations are among the 68 businesses which have signed petitions calling for repeal of the provision in the bill.

MONEY TIME IN NORTH CAROLINA

As campaigns intensify for the November elections, we learn how expensive it has become to mount an effective effort. And the totals released by candidates to the State Board of Elections point to very competitive season. Example: Attorney General Roy Cooper who is running for governor has raised over $9 million, besting the $6 million total raised by incumbent Pat McCrory. Former state senator Josh Stein is reporting over $2 million in the race to succeed Cooper—about 10 times more than raised by GOP Senator Buck Newton of Goldsboro. Former State Rep. Deborah Ross who is seeking to unseat U.S. Senator Richard Burr has pulled in $2 million more than her opponent.

These are just highlights. With over 30 incumbents in the House and Senate retiring, Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to maintain or regain the majority. Republicans who have held a super majority in both Chambers since 2010 are likely to keep control. But Democrats are seeking to gain enough seats to prevent veto overrides. They will have to gain seven House seats and three Senate seats to meet this goal.

WE’LL TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR

The move to eliminate the excise tax on textile manufacturing equipment was blocked in budget negotiations by senators who refused to compromise with House conferees. House Finance Chairman Jason Saine of Lincoln County pushed for the change, but senators felt the $12 million impact on the $22 billion budget was too much. Rep. Saine he will push for removal of the tax in 2017.

HB2 LURKING?

The legislation now known as the bathroom bill has had leaders talking about revisions. Gov. Pat McCrory came to the Legislative Building Tuesday for a private meeting with the GOP caucus to discuss revisions he would like to see implemented in legislation. This issue has divided the Republicans and some privately are worried that some in metropolitan areas could lose their seats. Should Democrats pick up six seats, Republicans would lose a veto-proof majority. The technical corrections bill sent to the governor today includes a $500,000 appropriations to the governor’s office for legal services to defend the bill in courts.

FILL IN THE GAPS

The GOP-dominated Legislature has passed a $22.35 budget. It includes a lower income tax by raising the non-taxable cap to $17,500. Families earning less than this will not have to file state taxes. But there’s a new stream of income to make up for lost revenue to the state: consumer-driven fees and taxes. The budget expects an increase of sales taxes of $22.4 million from the levy of sales taxes on services.

This weekend the lawmakers were creating “technical corrections” bills in the House and Senate to supplement the special provisions section of the budget. This section spells out in detail the policies legislators attached to the spending.

…AS YOU PREPARE TO CELEBRATE

Time to fill up the cooler, clean up the grill and head out for the highlight of the summer—the July Fourth holidays. But before you start the car or van, here’s what is keeping your legislators in Raleigh.