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Now We’ll Know For Sure If State Budget ‘Cuts’ Are Real

Teacher compensation and accountability grabbed media headlines for months as state legislators negotiated the new General Fund operating budget for FY 2014-15. But now that the budget has been finalized and signed into law, what should be getting headlines is a reform of the budgeting process itself. Thanks to a commitment to greater transparency, legislators have made sure that, going forward, debate over budgeting will use real dollar figures that will clearly show us all whether a so-called “cut” to a budget is really a “cut.” JLF’s Sarah Curry explains the significance in this brief video clip. 

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“a clear political agenda ahead of the needs of thousands of North Carolina children”

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on reaction to the ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, who, incredibly, has ruled that the Opportunity Scholarship voucher program that allows low-income kids to attend a private school rather than be trapped in a public school that isn’t working for them — is unconstitutional.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, criticized Judge Hobgood’s decision.

“Today’s ruling by a single trial court judge advances a clear political agenda ahead of the needs of thousands of North Carolina children,” Berger said. “We are committed to providing students a sound, basic education — and that’s the very reason we don’t want to trap disabled and underprivileged children in low-performing schools that are failing to deliver on that responsibility. This ruling yet again frustrates parents who desperately want to provide what’s best for their kids, and I hope we will move swiftly to appeal.”

Berger noted that 16 other states and the District of Columbia have similar voucher programs.

JLF’s Terry Stoops reacts here. 

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Popular Mechanics: Solar Plants Burning Birds Alive

This environmental ‘D’oh’ moment brought to you by Popular Mechanics. If you like birds — and I do — don’t look at the picture.

Environmentalists and animal rights activists are in rare opposition, because birds are being cooked alive when they fly through the concentrated rays of the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in California.

Solar thermal plants are excellent means of creating renewable energy and jobs. They help reduce US reliance on foreign oil. But the reputation of solar energy as a whole could suffer unjustly from the charred feathers showing up at giant solar thermal plants.
BrightSource’s Ivanpah Energy Plant is a massive solar thermal plant that covers 3,500 acres with 173,500 heliostats, each of which contains 163 square feet of mirrors. These thousands of giant mirrors direct sunrays to one of three 459-foot power towers. The heated towers then create steam, which generates energy-producing turbines.

In other words, that thing you did as a kid with the ants and the magnifying glass – Ivanpah develops that technology to power 140,000 homes with clean energy.

The burning-birds-alive story comes just days after JLF’s Roy Cordato reported on the N.C. Aquarium’s energetic support for wind energy – at the very same time the aquarium is caring for an injured bald eagle. Bald eagles, of course, are made mince meat by behemoth wind turbines. Cordato writes:

Finally, I’d like to note that one of the aquarium’s exhibits is a bald eagle with an injured wing. Indeed the aquarium boasts about taking the bird in and helping it to survive.

Of course, the irony is that wind power is a notorious killer of bald eagles. In fact, President Obama has recently found it necessary to issue an exemption to wind power companies allowing them to kill this protected species without penalty.

By subsidizing wind power, the N.C. Aquarium will be contributing to the now legalized slaughter of this national symbol.


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“forced to languish in an educational setting that isn’t working for them.”

Darrell Allison of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina has posted the following on the group’s website.


PEFNC President Responds to Opportunity Scholarship Injunction
Aug 21 2014 by pefncadmin
RALEIGH – Below is a statement from Darrell Allison, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), regarding the decision by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood to grant a permanent injunction on the Opportunity Scholarship Program. There will be an expedited appeal filed to a higher court to stay the permanent injunction which would allow the Program to continue until an ultimate ruling could be reached on the Program’s constitutionality.

“While this court decision might represent a temporary roadblock on the path towards educational freedom in North Carolina, I believe it’s just that – temporary. The Supreme Court overturned a previous temporary injunction ruling from this same court in May and I am confident that a higher court will do the same in this case. We’re going to continue to fight for a parent’s right to choose the educational setting that works best for their children – by any means necessary.

Today’s ruling strikes at the heart of what thousands of North Carolina families have been fighting for over the past several months. With nearly 2,000 already enrolled and more than 300 private schools registered to educate these students, there is no doubt that the families, for whom this program is targeted, desperately desire this program. The Opportunity Scholarship Program is offering parents choices where none have existed before and is levelling the playing field when it comes to our state’s most disadvantaged children. While we are not surprised by the lower court’s ruling given Judge Hobgood’s initial ruling on the preliminary injunction, it is difficult to accept the idea that a certain number of children will be forced to languish in an educational setting that isn’t working for them. The fact that certain factions within North Carolina are threatened by what the Opportunity Scholarship Program does is disappointing but we’re confident that the program will ultimately be found to be constitutional.”

The Opportunity Scholarship Program, passed in July 2013, creates scholarships of up to $4,200 for low-income and working-class families to attend a private school. To qualify, a child must be currently enrolled in a North Carolina public school and reside in a household that qualifies for federal Free and Reduced Lunch (about $44,000 for a family of 4).

JLF’s Terry Stoops responded to Judge Hobgood’s ruling here.


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JLF’s Terry Stoops Responds To Denial Of Opportunity For Poor Kids

The John Locke Foundation’s top education expert says a Wake County Superior Court ruling this morning takes opportunities away from low-income parents and children seeking alternatives to North Carolina’s traditional public schools.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood declared the state’s new Opportunity Scholarship program unconstitutional.

Terry Stoops, JLF director of research and education studies, responds to the ruling in this video clip.


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Shameful: For Now, Progressives Succeed At Denying Poor Families Educational Opportunity

Weep for the children who are — for now at least — trapped in traditional classrooms that do not serve their needs. And it’s all thanks to North Carolina progressives and their ideology that puts  the system over children and families. And now Judge Robert Hobgood has declared opportunity scholarships unconstitutional.

Make no mistake – this is progressive ideology on full display: government control at all costs.

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Why The Free Market, Not Government, Is Our Best Problem Solver

This Triangle Business Journal story about creative business ideas and products that are being developed locally serves as a wonderful example of free markets and innovation at work. And it’s entrepreneur Mark Cuban who points this out to the TBJ writer as he reacts to a local idea to use nail polish to detect date rape drugs. The writer frames the nail polish idea as “social entrepreneurship.”

With so many social entrepreneurship ventures coming out of Triangle innovators – I asked Cuban if there’s anything extra that investors have to consider with these kinds of ventures. After all, it’s not just profits they’re after, but social change.

“That is not about being a social entrepreneur,” he tells me. “That is about being smart. Coming up with unique solutions. Solutions that are original, which is exactly what I love.”

And it’s that “smart” concept that will hook an investor, not just the philanthropic reasoning behind the product.

“So many people try to be the Uber of this or the Facebook of that,” he says. “The fact that they used nail polish to solve a serious problem is brilliant. Have them get in touch with me with some research that proves it works and I will consider an investment.”

Today’s ideas are tomorrow’s products and services, and today’s fledging entrepreneurs are tomorrow’s Mark Cubans. We must hold these folks up as role models to be emulated. Sadly, today’s culture has tagged these types of innovators and investors as the evil one-percenters who somehow don’t deserve their success.

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Mainstream, Not Fringe: 74% of Likely Voters Favor Requiring I.D. To Vote

From Rasmussen comes the data that progressives don’t want to acknowledge: requiring an I.D. to vote is a mainstream viewpoint, not something favored by “fringe” elements who seek to disenfranchise others.

A federal judge in North Carolina recently struck down the latest challenge by the U.S. Justice Department to a state law that requires voters to bring photo identification to the polls. Voters continue to strongly support voter ID laws and don’t consider them discriminatory.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 74% of Likely U.S. Voters believe all voters should be required to prove their identity before being allowed to vote. Nineteen percent (19%) disagree.



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NC State Students Get A Lesson In Real-World Economics

NC State students are back on campus and that means the Technician is publishing again. But this notice alerts readers to the economic reality.

Effective immediately, the Technician will publish four days per week, as opposed to the five-day model of the past.

The change comes due to a significant decrease in funding to all of Student Media, which has been funded by advertising and underwriting revenue.

“Both our national and campus advertising fell precipitously,” Patrick Neal, director of Student Media Advising, said. “No knowledgeable authority we know of can say when — or if — those revenues will ever return to levels seen historically. This is not just a challenge for the Technician; this is a challenge all university newspapers are facing.”

This lesson in economics is better than any course these students could take. No, I’m not happy they’re under pressure, but I am happy the students will now learn what it takes to earn support. That means working on the quality of the product and making the Technician a publication people want to read and, therefore, a place where businesses want to be.


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Principles Prevail

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on action in the House yesterday that — thankfully — saw principle trump special interests and principled legislators refuse to return to the past.

Twenty-eight House Republicans bolted party ranks Tuesday, joining 26 Democrats to defeat an economic incentives program that some labeled “corporate welfare.” It was a rebuke to House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Gov. Pat McCrory, all of whom championed the legislation.

The 47-54 vote against House Bill 1224 signaled that the end of the meandering 2014 “short session” of the General Assembly could be nigh, arriving perhaps as early as today.

The GOP leadership split on this bill, with Tillis, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, supporting the measure along with House Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and House Finance Committee Co-Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett.

Speaker Pro Tem Skip Stam, R-Wake, and Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, opposed the legislation. Also in opposition were the Finance Committee’s senior chairwoman, Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, and Co-Chairman Mitchell Setzer, R-Catawba.

First-term Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, made an impassioned plea for members to oppose the bill. Speciale spoke about watching House sessions from the chamber’s balcony for 14 years, watching Republicans argue against “walk-around money” for special incentives to politically favored businesses.

“I thought, ‘Oh, if only the Republicans could be in charge — and that’s what a lot of the state thought — if only the Republicans were in charge, they would fix this,’” Speciale said. “They would quit taking money out of my pocket and give it to someone else.”

Speciale said Republicans now were being asked to support “the very thing that we argued year after year after year [against]. … The only thing I can say is, Please think about what you’re doing here.”

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