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New news about old news is like reheated coffee – it doesn’t have the same flavor as fresh brewed. Case in point: John Edwards’ legal problems concerning campaign fraud. His story can’t compete with riveting reports involving Congressman Anthony Weiner’s postings of private parts or actor Charlie Sheen’s antics. Nevertheless, there are still lessons to be learned by going over old ground.

My skepticism of former presidential hopeful John Edwards began back in 2007 when his taste for expensive haircuts was revealed. A $400 clip had an amusing double meaning to it. However, that particular extravagance would have been inconsequential if Edwards had not been in the the habit of touting his simpatico with the “common man.” Sure, everyone spends a week’s pay on a trim.


Despite their protests, Democrats in the state legislature can’t get around a simple fact: It's now been 11 years since legislators asked for North Carolinians’ permission to borrow money.

Nonetheless, legislatures controlled by Democrats have authorized more than $3 billion in borrowing during those 11 years.

Legislative Republicans want to end the practice of taking on debt by “special indebtedness,” bureaucratese for state borrowing that doesn’t require voter approval.

That inconvenient fact, the total lack of traditional borrowing since 2000, is surely their biggest stick to beat back critics of a proposal to end non-voter approved state debt.



The longer the budget debate lasts in the General Assembly, the more puzzling it must be to the vast majority of people in North Carolina.

House and Senate leaders keep saying that it makes more sense to fire teachers, slash mental health services, and abolish more than 20,000 jobs than keep the sales tax at its current level.

The difference for the average family is a few dollars a month. No wonder most people don’t understand it.


RALEIGH -- One of the stranger aspects of the messy state budget-making process is that state leaders, as much as they might like to, can’t really cut to the chase.

At some point in that process, the general shape of the end-product becomes fairly apparent to astute observers.

This year, that end-product will likely include $400 million to $600 million more than the $19 billion budget plan crafted by House Republicans. Most of the additional money will go to public schools and universities.

The money probably won’t come from extending a penny sales tax hike scheduled to expire on July 1. It probably will come from holding off on state building repairs, tapping the state's reserve savings account, and grabbing money that House Republicans had designated for the state's pension fund.


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