SLOWLY BUT SURELY

Paul Fogleman,

With only a few House members around, the 2014 session of the North Carolina General Assembly plodded toward adjournment. The Senate had scheduled sessions, but no committee meetings were scheduled. No bills for debate, no bickering between the Chambers.

Senate budget conferees met after the session Tuesday with the lottery and salaries on the agenda. Both are sticking points as the senators insist the House projections for lottery receipts are way too optimistic. The Senate has proposed an 11 percent salary increase for teachers; the House 5 percent. Salary increases for other state personnel range from 2 percent to a $1,000 bonus.

Community College and Higher Education budgets are not in contention. Last week the House and Senate leaders agreed on compromise figures for Medicaid reserves during an open session scheduled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senators were surprised with Rep. Nelson Dollar, senior chair of the House Appropriations Committee immediately responded with House proposals.

… AND IN THE BACKGROUND …

are conferees of the House and Senate supposedly hammering out compromises for the new fiscal year budget. Hundreds of items will be put on the table, including appropriations for the Manufacturing Solutions Center and Textile Technology Center. The Senate included $150,000 in additional funds for each center to help manufacturers recruit and train new personnel needed for the return of made-in-America production. The House did not. But we are encouraged that House leaders have promised to add the funds during negotiations.

Most veteran observers believe the Legislature will adopt a budget the week of July 14 and go home. However the second primary next week could affect the timetable or put adjournment into the weekend with midnight sessions.

IT’S THE HAT, STUPID

Last week Gov. Pat McCrory made national news with his warning to coastal residents to take Hurricane Arthur seriously. “Don’t put on your stupid hat,” the governor advised. This led Gary Pearce, a popular blogger to urge the governor to carry the message to legislative budget negotiators: don’t put on your stupid hats…get a spending plan and go home.

MORE TEXTILE JOBS ON THE WAY

A German textile manufacturer says it plans to open its first U.S. operation in Mount Airy at an 18,000-square-foot distribution center. Südwolle Group, a 94-year-old family owned company based in Nuremberg, makes pure wool and wool-blend worsted spun yarns for weaving, and circular and flat knitting. It also has operations in Australia, China, Italy, Poland and Romania. The site is a vacant warehouse, and it’s projected to open this month. The company did not say how many jobs it expects to created with the center. It said it would announce full details at the SpinExpo trade show in New York City on July 15 – 17.

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