CHAPEL HILL - Shortly after Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt was easily re-elected to his third term last Tuesday, he received a surprise phone call of congratulations from the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.
“I just picked it up and said hello, and I was greeted with a ‘Hello, this is Joe Biden,” said Kleinschmidt, a Democrat.
After leaving an election party, he received a call from an unknown number and thankfully answered it rather than letting it go to voice mail.
“I’ve participated in several campaigns over the years and never received a call like that one,” Kleinschmidt said.
Biden, considered likely to run in the 2016 presidential election, made several calls that evening to Democratic municipal election winners in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first caucus, and the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to USA Today.
“We have a particularly well-tuned-in White House that understands that change is made by fostering and nurturing connections between all levels of government,” Kleinschmidt said.
The Vice President has pledged support for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan as she seeks a second six-year term in 2014. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis is one of several Republicans running for their party’s nomination to challenge her.
Kleinshmidt is among those who support Hagan.
“I told him [Biden] how excited I was to participate in the next election here in North Carolina next year and [for me to help] Senator Hagan get re-elected. He was glad to hear that.”
Republicans hold a super majority in the North Carolina House, Senate and Governor’s Mansion. Many local elected officials here in Orange County have voiced their opposition to legislation enacted by the General Assembly this past legislative term. Kleinschmidt said Biden offered praise for the progressivism that’s come to be attributed to this community.
“He responded by thanking [us] for the work we have been doing and acknowledging that places like Chapel Hill are where progress is being made in our country, and he was grateful that we were continuing to be committed to it.”
As far as offering endorsements for potential presidential nominees in the 2016 election, Kleinschmidt said he was inclined to support Hillary Clinton, though he said it was still early in the process.http://chapelboro.com/news/national/vice-president-joe-biden-calls-chapel-hill-mayor/
CHAPEL HILL – Over the weekend, your state’s House and Senate leaders met to reconcile the differences between their two budget proposals. Now with a settled budget that both House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger seem happy about, passage looks likely.
But Representative Verla Insko, who represents OrangeCounty in the General Assembly, says she opposes the new budget and feels its cuts will end up costing North Carolinians more in the future.
“I just disagree with the philosophy of austerity during a recession,” Insko says. “I think stimulus makes a lot more sense.”
Among the items in the budget are a reduction in sales tax-free periods and cuts to the estate tax, corporate tax and a new income tax that would put all citizens, regardless of income level, at the same tax rate.
“There’s very little evidence, some would say no evidence, that cutting taxes for the wealthiest people actually produces any new jobs,” Insko says. “What produces new jobs is having the middle class have enough money to be able to purchase goods and services.”
State Senator Ellie Kinnaird also opposes the budget, criticizing its cuts to public sector employees.
“There’s a particularly sensitive group, the Highway Patrol, that had been promised over the years that they would have a certain percentage of pay raise every year no matter what,” Kinnaird says. “And they’ve just gone back on that.”
Insko especially criticizes cuts to child and adult service programs, namely those that deal with mental health care. She says she feels these cuts are not only unnecessary, but that it cuts more than it lets on.
“There’s a hidden $20 million cut to mental health in this budget because last year, they made a $20 million appropriation non-recurring and they didn’t fund that this year, so there’s really a $35 million cut to mental health,” Insko says.
While the state budget gives additional funding to voucher programs to help low-income families pay for private or charters schools, it also eliminates teacher tenure. Insko says that tenure should have been “tinkered with,” but not done away with altogether.
“Teachers don’t make a whole lot anyway, and job security was one of the things that allowed us to keep people who could make a lot more money in another job,” Insko says.
Kinnaird even speaks out against the funding for vouchers and says they are part of a larger goal in the state’s budget.
“Because they’ve instituted a voucher plan for private schools, that reduces the average daily funds going to the public schools,” Kinnaird says. “It’s a concerted effort to really, I think, destroy our public schools.”
While Kinnaird says that she was surprised by the “boldness” of the General Assembly’s budget, she says the individual provisions themselves were all expected.
“We’ve known, right at the beginning, what they were going to target,” Kinnaird says. “There’s nothing there that’s a surprise to me.”
Insko and Kinnaird did add that they were happy to see compensation for victims of the state’s eugenics program. Insko was one of the co-sponsors of legislation in the House to authorize compensation for the victims.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/verla-insko-criticizes-general-assemblys-budget/
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Republican leader of the North Carolina state Senate says he should make a decision by the end of July about whether to enter the race to try to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan.
Senator Phil Berger told reporters Tuesday about his potential timetable. The Eden attorney has been weighing a bid for several months. His counterpart in the House – Speaker Thom Tillis – already announced in May he would seek the Republican primary nomination.
Berger confirmed he spoke Tuesday morning with representatives of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which recruits candidates and usually gives financial support to primary victors.
Physician Greg Brannon of Cary is running in the GOP primary. The Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte is considering getting in as well.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/berger-still-not-ready-to-decide-on-us-senate-bid/