- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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May 11

The Robesonian of Lumberton on House Bill 2:

North Carolina’s Republican leadership is in a blinking contest with the U.S. Justice Department and there is plenty at stake, as much as $3 billion a year of federal dollars that is shared among the 17-member UNC System and the state’s public schools, including urgently needed money that comes to Robeson County.

The issue is House Bill 2, which most folks are weary of reading and hearing about. It was a crisis contrived by the city of Charlotte - were transgender people really struggling to find a place to do their business? - that provoked a clumsy overreaction from this state’s lawmakers, including those representing this county who are having buyer’s remorse.

Supporters of the legislation can defiantly laugh about not allowing the federal government to bully our state, but the potential consequences are real, and the state’s educational systems, both primary and secondary, stand to lose money they can’t afford to do without.

The Justice Department this week announced it was suing North Carolina, saying the bill violates the Civil Rights Act, therefore putting those federal dollars in jeopardy. Gov. Pat McCrory responded by suing the federal government, so it appears we are at an impasse.

While the state prepares to spend what could add up to a lot of money in a legal fight it is likely to lose, North Carolina’s economy, which has been rebounding under GOP leadership, continues to suffer a single cut at a time, some deeper than others, but all robbing people of income. We know that some companies have decided to take their jobs elsewhere, some rock musicians have canceled performances, and there is a threat that the NBA franchise in Charlotte will leave North Carolina.

All because of a bill that addressed a problem that didn’t exist, but also took detours to include making it more difficult for some to claim discrimination in workplace, and even meddled with the minimum wage.

There is growing support in the General Assembly to revisit House Bill 2, including among our local representatives, whose sway will be limited because they all have D affixed beside their names. Three of our local legislators favored the legislation, one was absent during the vote, and our senator didn’t cast a vote as there wasn’t one in that chamber after all the Democrats walked out, choosing not to vote on rushed legislation they didn’t even understand.

We don’t know if the momentum is sufficient to get HB2 rolled back sufficiently that it would prevent more damage to our economy. The issue now seems to be ego-driven, and the North Carolina lawmakers clinging hardest to HB2 as it now exists appear more concerned about winning the blinking contest than keeping this state’s economy on its upward trend.

The time has arrived when sanity must rule, and Republicans in leadership positions, including McCrory, need to remember that they will pay a big price at the polls if they continue to push North Carolina down this plank. It’s a matter of time before HB2 is a bad memory, and the Republicans can make themselves the same in November if they don’t flush this bathroom bill.

Online:

https://robesonian.com/

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May 9

The Winston-Salem Journal on Krispy Kreme buyout deal:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, part of the fabric of Winston-Salem for 78 years, put us on the national map, then the world map. Several years ago, it had its share of troubles, but rebounded so well it has for some time attracted major corporate interest. Monday, that culminated with news of a major buyout deal for Krispy Kreme.

There are many questions yet to be answered. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed that this deal will be beneficial for this crucial company.

The company has accepted an offer of $1.35 billion to be acquired by JAB Beech Inc. and to be taken private upon the conclusion of the deal, which is expected in the third quarter, the Journal’s Richard Craver reported. Shareholders will still have to approve the deal.

Shares of Krispy Kreme stock rose with the news. We hope that trend continues.

This may allow Krispy Kreme to compete better with Dunkin’ Donuts, John Stanton, a professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, told the Journal.

It’s good that the company will remain based here. But many questions remain, such as: Will the new owner bring in its own management team?

Private investment likes to get cost savings quickly. But we hope this deal eventually adds jobs.

Krispy Kreme has seen its share of ups and downs.

As Craver noted, “Krispy Kreme went public to great fanfare in April 2000 and was a Wall Street darling for several years - reaching a record post-stock split high of $50 a share - before legal, regulatory, financial and franchisee challenges under former chief executive Scott Livengood threatened its existence between 2004 and 2009 . Under the leadership of Jim Morgan, who at one time ran the company as chairman, chief executive and president, Krispy Kreme made a remarkable financial turnaround to profitability the past seven years and re-established itself as a major global competitor.”

Morgan remains as chairman, at least for now.

The new owner would be wise to keep him on. Morgan has shown well his mettle in responding to challenging change. He could work well with the new owner in this important company’s next big chapter, one that we hope will be a good one for Krispy Kreme and the town that loves it.

Online:

https://www.journalnow.com/

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May 9

The Gaston Gazette on lottery proceeds:

Remember that $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot earlier this year? You know, the one you didn’t win - and neither did we for that matter.

Sigh.

But so many folks out there bought tickets because, well, just because. So in the end we all did win something after all. It added up to better than $60 million in additional lottery profits for this fiscal year. A windfall.

Gov. Pat McCrory has some ideas about that money, and they’re pretty good ones. McCrory wants the General Assembly to approve changes in the lottery’s distribution formula to include targeted scholarship assistance for some disabled students, so they can attend private schools or receive therapy. He also wants to spend some of the extra profits on K-12 instructional supplies, a digital learning plan and technology that will help raise graduation rates in the University of North Carolina system.

All are worthy projects.

But some legislative leaders are balking at McCrory’s initiatives, saying they want to move back to the lottery’s original formula. Rep. Craig Horn, a Union County Republican and an education budget writer, says that, “Every year at this point I go back and look at the original lottery legislation and make sure we’re spending lottery education money on purposes that the law describes.”

That’s laudable, too. But it should also be noted that education has changed in the 11 years since the lottery law was passed. For one thing, much more of it is digital, and far less is textbook-based.

The N.C. Association of County Commissioners, for one, would be pleased to go back to the original formula, which set aside 40 percent of lottery profits for school construction. That would more than double the $100 million they got this year and would be a boon in most counties like our own. Gaston County is looking for ways to keep up with repairs or renovations to aging school buildings that are in decline.

But in this year’s requests for lottery proceeds, we haven’t heard anything that would abuse the spirit of the lottery law. The money is supposed to help support education, and that’s mostly what’s happened in the past decade, save for the aberration during the Great Recession when lawmakers approved using lottery funds to cover a Medicaid shortfall. That’s one move that shouldn’t be repeated.

What’s important, we think, is making sure we’re getting the best bang for our lottery bucks. That means a careful look at our educational needs and then using lottery profits where they will do the most good. Let’s never lose sight of another original intent: Lottery money is supposed to supplement state education funding, not replace it. That’s the real spirit of the law.

Online:

https://www.gastongazette.com/

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