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OFF TARGET
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OFF TARGET

BY PEGGY S. BOOSE

I believe the author of the Dec. 16 editorial about Citizens for a Sound Economy is not informed about the focus of the group. CSE is a group of thousands of people all over this nation. It crosses social, economic, political, age and racial lines with the belief that spending needs to be cut instead of taxes being raised. Our method of doing this must be through federal and state legislatures and locally elected officials, since they are the ones raising taxes at an alarming rate. Most people live within a budget. State tax structures should be in accordance with the citizens' level of income. If frugal habits were applied to all government spending, there should be more than enough money to take care of the needs mentioned in the editorial. The problem comes from legislators who spend money for self-serving projects. Working citizens today work approximately from Jan. 1 through June 1 just to pay all the taxes that have been levied. I do not think this is what we elected legislators to do. I am in the accounting industry and see people every day who feel the same way but fear to speak out because they operate a small business or their income is tied to the government. Before you accuse anyone of being a bully, look at yourself. The media is the most feared segment of our society. You have the power to destroy or make people and companies, and the liberty of confidential sources. PEGGY S. BOOSE

01/03/2003
Rowland Isn't Being Tough Enough On Unions
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Press Release

Rowland Isn't Being Tough Enough On Unions

This op-ed was originally published in the Hartford-Courant on December 19, 2002 When Connecticut's tax receipts were booming, it was easy to ignore the stranglehold that state employee unions have on the state budget process. Now that revenues have fallen dramatically, this is no longer the case. Given the state's $1.5 billion shortfall next fiscal year, the legislature can no longer shirk its responsibility to address out-of-control spending, particularly on government salaries, health care and pensions.

01/02/2003
New force in the fray on state's textbooks
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New force in the fray on state's textbooks

BY Melissa Ludwig

As summer activities chase flagella and mitochondria from the minds of Texas schoolchildren, parents and interest groups are preparing to battle over biology textbooks. Today brings the State Board of Education's first public hearing on the new books, continuing a decades-long battle over how Texas public school children are taught about the science of life on Earth.

01/01/2003
Senate Slices Reconciliation Figure to $350 Billion
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Senate Slices Reconciliation Figure to $350 Billion

BY Warren Rojas

Weeks of Republican budget solidarity began to unravel March 25 as Senate centrists capped the reconciliation growth package at $350 billion and siphoned another $137 billion away from President Bush's $630 billion tax cut permanency allocation.

01/01/2003
Texas Business Lobby Urges Selling Future Earnings on Tobacco Settlement
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Texas Business Lobby Urges Selling Future Earnings on Tobacco Settlement

BY John Moritz

Mar. 16-AUSTIN, Texas-With Texas facing a $9.9 billion budget shortfall, the head of the state's largest business lobby is pushing what he calls a sure-fire way to pay the bills without raising taxes. Sell the future earnings on the state's $17.3 billion settlement with the nation's largest tobacco companies for a lump-sum payment of up to $5 billion, said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business.

01/01/2003
New force in the fray on state's textbooks
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New force in the fray on state's textbooks

BY Melissa Ludwig

As summer activities chase flagella and mitochondria from the minds of Texas schoolchildren, parents and interest groups are preparing to battle over biology textbooks. Today brings the State Board of Education's first public hearing on the new books, continuing a decades-long battle over how Texas public school children are taught about the science of life on Earth.

01/01/2003
Edwards Campaigns Town Hall Style
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Edwards Campaigns Town Hall Style

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards met friend and foe alike during the second of 12 scheduled town hall style meetings his campaign has planned for New Hampshire voters this summer. More than 200 people attended the two-hour event Tuesday night, which the North Carolina senator said he hopes will give voters a fuller picture of who he is.

01/01/2003
Halt Cuts in Budget, Education Chiefs Ask
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Halt Cuts in Budget, Education Chiefs Ask

BY Dan Kane

The Senate gave educators and economic development experts an opportunity Monday to plead for no more budget cuts in the next two years, but they had to share the floor with about 60 people from an anti-tax group who showed up to oppose any tax hikes. Senate budget writers allowed several members from North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy to make their case that the state should rein in spending, instead of adopting a lottery or raising taxes. About 25 school superintendents joined an equal number of community college presidents and several UNC chancellors to impress upon legislators that further budget cuts would reverse the gains they have made in student performance and in training workers in a tough economy. All three systems are seeing rising numbers of students, but the money they get for enrollment growth is ending up supplanting budget cuts. "We cannot sustain cuts at this magnitude and provide for the increased numbers of students who are coming here," said UNC President Molly Broad. But Dennis Riddell, a member of the anti-tax group, said that the state has yet to get serious about curbing spending in tough times. Riddell, 46, a father of eight from Alamance County, said he has had to cut his expenses to get by, and the state should too. "If that's proper for a family, I don't think it's foolish for the state," Riddell said. Others contended that raising taxes would hurt an economic recovery. They said a lottery for education, as Gov. Mike Easley has advocated, would send the wrong message to children. One speaker, Andrea Harris, president of the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development, said the Senate should eliminate corporate tax breaks. The hearing came as Senate and House budget writers remain deadlocked over passing a budget. The House's latest $ 14.8 billion plan includes cuts to health and human services, education and other services that senators say would cause too much harm. The Senate has produced a $ 15.1 billion plan that doesn't cut as deeply, but doesn't cover what Senate budget analysts project as a $ 628 million shortfall in revenues for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Those analysts say the Senate could need to plug a $ 1.5 billion hole in the budget's second year. Senate Democratic leaders have suggested that a lottery or an increase in the tobacco or alcoholic beverage taxes would help solve the problem. But House leaders say they can't raise more revenues, and they are using $ 510 million in one-time federal budget relief money to get by. Only a few House members trickled in to listen in on the hearing. Two said what they heard wasn't going to help break the impasse. "It didn't change my mind," said House Republican Leader Joe Kiser, who sits on a committee of House and Senate members negotiating a compromise budget. "We just don't have the votes in the House to do what the Senate wants us to do, and we keep telling them that." About half of the Senate showed up for the hearing. Those who spoke tended to challenge the viewpoints of the anti-tax advocates. One speaker noted that she received a sound education in the 1960s though she sat in classrooms of 30 or more students. Sen. Walter Dalton, a Rutherfordton Democrat and Appropriations co-chairman, responded that education took up 70 percent of the state budget then, compared with 58 percent today. Dalton closed the hearing with a history lesson about one of his district's favorite sons, the late Gov. O. Max Gardner. Dalton credited Gardner for helping create the state's first sales tax, which Dalton said helped keep the schools open during the Depression. "I hope we keep the same kind of priorities he had, because education and economic development go hand in hand," Dalton said. "As I said before, we're not doing a two-year budget. We're doing a 20-year budget."

01/01/2003
Educators Upset Over Cuts
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Educators Upset Over Cuts

BY David Rice

Education leaders told state senators yesterday that they can't handle more cuts in public education. Anti-tax activists told them that taxpayers can't handle more tax increases. The senators charged with balancing the state budget said that they don't have an easy answer for the state's budget troubles. Without an increase in cigarette or alcohol taxes or a state lottery, Senate leaders say they must cut an additional $600 million from the state's $15 billion budget - $300 million of it from education - to meet worsening revenue projections for 2003-04 and 2004-05. "We've still got to cut around $600 million out of that," said Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland. After three consecutive years of budget cuts, education leaders said they can't keep additional cuts from affecting classrooms. Jim Causby, the superintendent of the Johnston County schools, said that a $25 million cut in the Senate's version of the budget would eliminate more than 1,000 teacher assistants, and a $25 million cut in the House budget would eliminate more than 500 vocational education teachers. Dr. Stuart Fountain, a member of the state community-college board, said that faculty salaries are already abysmal at community colleges. "If these new cuts do take place, we're talking about 3,400 additional (class) sections that will not be offered," Fountain said. Molly Broad, the president of the University of North Carolina system, said that the system has had an enrollment increase of 14,200 students over the past two years, with 5,500 more students expected this fall. "That is bigger than the entire enrollment of 10 of our 16 campuses. This is unprecedented enrollment growth," Broad said. "It is no longer achievable for us to protect classroom instruction. Each round of cuts has made it more difficult." Cynthia McKinney, the president of the N.C. Association of Educators, told the senators that the 70,000-teacher group supports the call for more revenues. "It is not OK to cut $600 million from the general fund, or $300 million from education," McKinney said. "We should not pit teacher assistants against vocational teachers.... We need more revenue for public education." Legislators face a June 30 deadline to extend $384 million worth of sales and income taxes that are already part of both the House and Senate budgets. Both those taxes are currently scheduled to expire with the end of the fiscal year. But 70 activists from Citizens for a Sound Economy, a statewide anti-tax group, told the Senate members that they oppose any new taxes and a state lottery. Members of the group wore stickers that said "Kids Yes, Lottery No" and "Don't Raise My Taxes." "My budget was cut last year, too," said Jonathan Hill, the group's state director. "When you raised taxes, my budget was cut." "If you don't have it, don't spend it," said Lynnelle Alsup, a member from Surry County. "And stop asking the citizens of North Carolina for more and more and more." Members of the group voiced their opposition to a lottery as well. "I smell the lottery rat around here somewhere," said Dennis Riddell of Alamance County. "A lottery sends the wrong signal to the children of North Carolina.... It would be a disservice for the state of North Carolina to resort to a numbers racket." Roy Cordato of the conservative John Locke Foundation challenged legislators to put a tax increase to a vote of the public as they have proposed to do with a lottery. "Offer voters the same courtesy with respect to any tax increases you may propose," Cordato said. But the Rev. Mark Creech of the N.C. Christian Action League said that he could support higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol instead of a lottery, saying that alcohol-related accidents cost the state $3.7 billion a year. "Cigarette smoking and alcohol cost us all a great deal of money," he said. "If people are going to participate in the vice, they ought to have to pay the price." Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, a co-chairman of the Senate budget committee, said he hopes legislators have the courage that Gov. O. Max Gardner did during the Depression, when he implemented North Carolina's sales tax. "That wouldn't be popular with many people. But in doing that, he kept the schools of North Carolina open," Dalton said. Still, Republican budget and finance leaders in the state House continued to insist that the House would not support increased taxes or a lottery. "We've told them and our speakers have told them that we don't have the votes to do additional revenue," said Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, a co-chairwoman of the Finance Committee. "There is no will to do sin taxes, and I don't know that the numbers are there to do a lottery."

01/01/2003
U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) Holds Hearing on the Fair Credit Reporting Act
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U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) Holds Hearing on the Fair Credit Reporting Act

01/01/2003

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