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Failed State


Republicans in North Carolina's state Senate played a jolly prank on Democrats last week, and it's just hilarious how it all turned out, apart from how it screws over poor kids who might want to go to college. But they get screwed all the time anyway, so they should be used to it! You see, the Rs were very unhappy that the Ds had taken last Thursday night's debate on the state budget past midnight. The Dems kept putting forward dumb bills to advance their budget priorities -- some of which which align with the priorities of Gov. Roy Cooper, who shouldn't even be allowed to be governor since he's a Democrat. After several Democratic amendments were voted down, the Rs took a two hour recess, returning to the floor at 3 AM with a brand new amendment Republican state Sen. Brent Jackson said would help fight the opioid amendment with a million dollars in new funding. What a swell guy! Cooper had asked for $15 million to fight opioid addiction, but this was a start, right?

Jackson didn’t mention where the additional $1 million would come from: directly from education programs in Senate Democrats’ districts and other initiatives the minority party sought.

Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s rural district in northeastern North Carolina took the biggest hit from the amendment. It strips $316,646 from two early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties, and it specifically bans state funding from supporting a summer science, math and technology program called Eastern North Carolina STEM.

Haha, gotcha, Dems! You pissed off Republicans by pretending your constituents deserved representation in a Republican-majority Senate, so now your stupid old high school students will pay the price for your arrogance! This is how democracy works, fuckers!

That STEM program had served about 90 students a year, many of whom are poor and black, but screw them, they also defied the will of the majority by not living in Republican districts, which had no cuts to their education funding.

“I don’t know what motivated the amendment, but it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering,” Smith-Ingram said Saturday, adding that the STEM summer program would shut down if the provision is in the final budget.

Clearly not wanting to call political ratfucking what it obviously is, Smith-Ingram said she thought the amendment must have resulted from some "miscommunication" about the amendments being offered by Democrats. We don't know. Sounds like the Rs got their point across pretty clearly, somehow.

“The future of children should not be caught up in a political disagreement between members,” she said.

That's a fine sentiment, miss, but you need to be taught who's boss, and not to make Republican lawmakers stay up too late with your quaint notion that Democrats' children are people.

In addition to the cuts for schools, the amendment modified funding for a program that funds college students working on education degrees to serve as teaching assistants in public schools. Oh, this one is a hoot, too, if you're a good ole boy:

The funding level for the program didn’t change, but seven counties represented by Smith-Ingram and fellow Democratic Sen. Angela Bryant were removed. Instead, the program will only apply to several counties represented by Republican senators.

Guess now those pissant Dems will respect the Republicans' authoriteh! As if logic mattered, Smith-Ingram pointed out the cuts will hurt counties that already have the state's highest teacher turnover rate, and where teaching assistants could be of some help. Silly lady. This has nothing to do with education at all, and you know it. It's about teaching Democrats some manners. While they were at it, the Rs cut funding for fresh produce in school lunches, because fresh produce is of the Devil and his wife, Michelle Obama.

Oh, there was also an extra little cut aimed at Gov. Roy Cooper, who has the temerity to believe that just because he got a majority of the vote, he's allowed to be governor: The amendment eliminated funding for a "federal legislative programs coordinator," which oughta show him! The eliminated position had helped the state secure federal recovery aid for Hurricane Matthew, a Cooper spokesperson said. With that job gone, Cooper will have more trouble actually getting the $900 in federal aid he requested -- only $6 million has come in so far -- so maybe people hurt by the hurricane will get mad at him and elect a Republican. Serves 'em right for electing a Democrat, since as you can see Democrats just make life worse for their constituents.

Two Democrats voted for the amendment, but Smith-Ingram said they had only done so because they weren't aware of the cuts hidden in the text -- the amendment was brought up for a vote within a minute of being introduced. One Democrat, Sen. Don Davis, tried to ask a question before the vote, but wasn't recognized to speak. Damned if they were going to let the Democrats slow things down even more with their dumb "questions."

Tuesday, state Senate leader Phil Berger defended the 3 a.m. amendment, saying it was a terrific idea that would help "address, without raising taxes, the opioid crisis" but without the "large tax increase" the Democrats had proposed. The Democratic amendment, by Sen. Paul Lowe, didn't actually raise taxes, but it did seek to fully fund $15 million for opioid programs by reducing the size of a state income tax cut the Republicans want. But hey, a smaller tax cut is exactly the same as raising taxes, isn't it?

Oh, yes, this does get better: Lowe's formula would have left the Republican personal income tax cut exactly the same -- from from 5.499 percent to 5.35 percent -- for married couples making under a million dollars a year. It would have left the slightly higher rate in place only for the rich, which we guess is socialism.

Wait! We're not done yet! Just GUESS where the increased funding for opioid addiction treatment programs will go! Guess! Did you guess that it will go only to new programs in six counties that are all represented by Republican senators? You are a very good guesser!

Now, there is some small bit of hope in this sad fiscal fuck-tussle: Historically, the North Carolina House has often restored funding for cuts that the Senate budget has made. The House budget is due two weeks from now, and the Republican chair of the Education Committee has already said he expects to restore other education funding cut by the Senate; he appears not to have yet commented on Friday's amendment, however.

So there's your update on the state the Electoral Integrity Project said in December lacks essential features of a functioning democracy. Can't imagine this episode is going to win the state much of an upgrade.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. If this story hasn't caused you to hurl your computing device across the room, we applaud your restraint and hope you'll click the "Donate" clicky below.

[Raleigh News & Observer / News & Observer again]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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