- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

In an editorial roundup June 3, The Associated Press reported erroneously which newspaper publishd an editorial about Fort Bragg. The editorial appeared in The Fayetteville Observer, not The News & Observer of Raleigh.

A corrected version of the story is below:

North Carolina editorial roundup

Summary of recent North Carolina newspaper editorials

By The Associated Press

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


May 31

The Charlotte Observer on the Taxpayer Protection Act:

Since Colorado passed a so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 1992 and then regretted it, at least 30 states have considered doing the same. Not one has pulled the trigger.

But North Carolina lawmakers, we’ve seen, aren’t afraid to pass nationally unique self-defeating legislation. They’re considering doing it again with Senate Bill 607. It’s called the Taxpayer Protection Act, but it wouldn’t protect taxpayers who want well-paid teachers, strong schools and public infrastructure that keeps up with the state’s growth.

The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote last summer. It’s been sitting in the House Finance Committee ever since, but the North Carolina Insider news service reported that House members might take up the bill in coming days or weeks. They shouldn’t.

SB 607 would have voters decide in November whether to pass constitutional amendments to do three things:

Limit the growth in state spending in any given year to inflation plus population growth.

Cap the top tax rate on personal and corporate income at 5 percent, half of the current constitutional cap of 10 percent.

Designate 2 percent of the General Fund budget for a rainy-day fund and restrict how that money could be spent.

The bill sounds reasonable on the surface. In practice, though, it prevents the state from investing adequately in fundamental public services even in good times. As North Carolina’s population and demand for services grow, state spending would fail to keep up.

Colorado’s experience was so bad that it suspended the law in 2005 after schools, roads and other areas suffered. The state experienced “ratcheting down”: Spending drops during a recession, then each year’s spending is pegged to that new lower level. The state is unable to get back to responsible levels even after the economy rebounds and generates more tax revenue.

Jan Brewer, the conservative Republican governor of Arizona, vetoed similar legislation in 2011, citing Colorado’s failed experiment.

The income tax provision would cut revenues by almost $2 billion a year. Expect the legislature to make up some of that through higher sales taxes and for local governments to be pressured to raise property taxes.

In Colorado, the state’s leading CEOs and other business leaders eventually came out against the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. North Carolina business leaders will regret it if they do not do so before this becomes law.

Natalie English, senior vice president for public policy at the Charlotte Chamber, told the editorial board that the Chamber has not taken a position. But “we have talked with colleagues in other states that have passed (or considered) similar legislation. Many of those colleagues express frustration and regret which gives us reason for hesitation.”

The House should hesitate, too, indefinitely.




May 31

The StarNews or Wilmington on making children’s lives safer:

It’s been a tragic several months for the lives and well-being of children and young people in our area.

Wednesday was especially heart-rending. First, we learned of the motor-vehicle deaths of two area high school students. By the end of the day, Wilmington Police reported the death of an 8-month-old who had apparently been left in a car all day.

Meanwhile, a 23-year-old man was charged with statutory rape of a young girl, and the mother of a 13-month-old was charged Monday with manslaughter in the fiery death of the child in an automobile crash.

We learned of the death of a 10-year-old boy on a personal watercraft at Sunset Beach.

Add to all this the young lives taken by gunfire late last year and early this year, and the recent trial and acquittal of a police officer charged in the death of a mentally disturbed young man, and it’s a disturbing toll. Even without all the details, the sheer number and tragic nature of the events is causing us to take pause morning and consider if there is anything we can do as individuals or as a community to prevent such tragedies.

Accidents, of course, will happen. It doesn’t lessen the tragedy of a death, especially that of an 18-year-old, as was the case of Lily Beatini, who died on her way to South Brunswick High School, apparently losing control of the SUV she was driving.

The same day, 17-year-old Tomas Hall Green was found in the median on U.S. 17 in Hampstead. He was struck by what is thought to be a Chevrolet SUV or pickup truck. If Green had any chance at survival, his fate was sealed as, instead of stopping to help, the driver fled the scene - one of the ultimate acts of cowardice and blatant disregard for life.

Most bizarre among the tragedies was the death of a child who somehow was left in a car all day with the mother apparently thinking the baby was at a daycare.

We all hope and pray for the best for our children and especially for their safety. But are we doing all we can as individuals and a society to make that a reality? Do actions back up our words?

Some believe it’s the sole duty of the parents or guardians to look out for a child’s welfare. Some believe we should do more as a society to protect and nurture all children. We think we need both.

Each of the tragedies we have mentioned comes with their own unique circumstances. Our legal system will deal with some of them. It seems, however, the least we can do is to try to learn from these events and be more conscious of specific things we can do to help not only our own children, but the children of family and friends.

It could be as simple as reminding kids to buckle up in the car, or keeping an eye on all the kids swimming near us at the beach or pool. Or it could be as difficult as seeking police intervention when we see a child put at risk by an adult.

And please, if you see a child or pet unattended in a hot car, get help. You literally may save a life.

Let’s challenge ourselves, our leaders and our community to be more proactive and protective in the lives of our children and youth. Not necessarily through laws or rules, but through the realization and adamant acceptance that our primary role as parents and adults is to nurture and care for our children, not to entertain ourselves.

We must put children first. That is not optional. It is a sacred obligation.




June 1

The Fayetteville Observer on Fort Bragg:

They took the tarp off the elephant in the room, letting three visiting members of Congress in on a muted controversy that’s slowly brewing.

Fayetteville City Councilman Kirk deViere brought it up at a Greater Fayetteville Chamber roundtable discussion that brought Sen. Thom Tillis, Rep. Richard Hudson and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry to town to review concerns about Fort Bragg.

Mostly, it was a discussion about whether the post is getting the resources it needs to maintain readiness. That’s important.

But so is another issue: how Fort Bragg is taking business away from the private sector by creating its own on-post conference and entertainment centers.

What the post is doing is a trend. Other military installations are doing the same, out of concern for service members’ safety as well as their convenience.

But the impact on the economies of the military bases’ host communities is a legitimate issue too, and rightfully one for Congress and committees like Armed Services. Since Fort Bragg, like all installations, is tax exempt, the federal government has some responsibility for the economic impact of its policies and practices. We hope Friday’s roundtable is the beginning of a productive discussion.



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