Bad Buck

Buck Newton was the Senate champion of H-B-2, the law that legalizes discrimination against the LGBT community and allows people to be fired for being gay. This law has embarrassed the state, cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, sent thousands of jobs out of state, and forfeited major events like the NBA All Star game and NCAA championships.

  • “Newton could find himself busy with the bill he helped sponsor in last month’s short session: House Bill 2. Newton introduced the LGBT bill on the Senate floor and opposed Democrats’ efforts to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s new nondiscrimination law.” News & Observer, Buck Newton: NC Senator seeking promotion to attorney general, April 21, 2016.
  • “Since HB2 passed, the economic impact to North Carolina has been significant and swift as corporations and individual customers have taken a stand against the bill. For instance, PayPal canceled the creation of 400 jobs in the state almost immediately after the bill became law. Additionally, the City of Charlotte has lost an estimated $285 million in canceled events, with another $100 million in losses recently added following the NBA’s decision. In total, a report from UCLA estimates the law may cost the state up to $5 billion a year.” News & Observer, Potentially $5 billion in losses from HB2 and still no repeal, August 3, 2016.
  • “The NBA announced late Thursday afternoon that it is moving the 2017 All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte, in reaction to concerns with the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2. … Tourism experts estimated the event could have had as much as $100 million in economic impact in the Charlotte region, with tens of thousands of out-of-town visitors filling hotel rooms and restaurants.” News & Observer, NBA moving 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, July 21, 2016.
  • The NCAA announced Monday evening it would pull seven championship tournament games out of North Carolina because of a controversial state law that critics say is discriminatory to the LGBT community. “Based on the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year,” the NCAA said in a statement.

In the Senate, Buck Newton voted to raise taxes on middle class families – eliminating the earned-income tax credit, raising sales taxes, limiting the property tax deduction, and raising taxes on seniors’ pensions. While voting for higher taxes on the middle class, Newton voted for tax give-aways for millionaires and big, out-of-state corporations – and when it comes to his own taxes, Newton has been fined eight times for not paying the taxes he owes.

  • “Unless lawmakers reverse course, close to one million working families in North Carolina will claim the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the last time this tax season, bringing pain to individual families and the state’s economy. Last year, North Carolina lawmakers put an end to the tax credit …. Depending on marital status and number of children, working families earning up to about $38,000 to $52,000 can qualify.” Budget & Tax Center, First in Flight from EITC, March 2014.
  • Newton voted yes on the third reading of conference report for HB 998, the Tax Simplification and Reduction Act, on July 17, 2013. HB 998 set a flat personal income tax rate of 5.8% for tax year 2014 and 5.75% for tax year 2015 (see pages 4-5 of the session law), set a flat corporate income tax rate of 6% for tax year 2014 and 5% for tax year 2015 (see pages 8-9), increased sales taxes (see pages 10-19), capped the income tax deduction for property taxes and mortgage interest (see page 3), and repealed income tax deductions for most non-Social Security pension income (see page 3).
  • “After months of debate, both the state House and Senate gave final approval to a compromise tax overhaul plan (House Bill 998) last week, and it has been sent to the Governor for his signature. … Deductions previously allowed from retirement income – $4,000 for government pensions (except for public pensions protected under the Bailey court decision) and $2,000 for private plans – are eliminated.” AARP, AARP Protects Retirement Income in NC Tax Plan.
  • “[T]he Tar Heel state’s tax overhaul still allows for several tax breaks on top of the standard deduction. Among them: charitable contributions, a child tax credit and a joint deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes. That combined real estate deduction, however, is capped at $20,000. That could reduce the value of those tax breaks for anyone who’s now paying at least a 4% rate on a $400,000 or $500,000 mortgage or for someone who owns multiple properties, according to CPA Rollin Groseclose, who is based in Asheville, N.C.” CNN, North Carolina’s Republican tax experiment, August 8, 2013.
  • “Under the approved plan, the corporate income tax would drop from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014 and would drop to 5 percent in 2015.  Additional reductions are possible in 2016 and 2017 if the state meets revenue targets.” AARP, AARP Protects Retirement Income in NC Tax Plan.
  • “The plan consists largely of cutting tax rates for personal and corporate income, in a way that will overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, and does little to rid the tax code of costly tax loopholes (see details of the plan below). The result will be a significant loss of revenue and a greater reliance on the sales tax, which hits middle-class and low-income taxpayers the hardest. … The majority of taxpayers, on average, will see their taxes increase under the plan, contrary to the claim made by proponents that all taxpayers will get a tax cut. Wealthy individuals and profitable corporations will receive huge tax cuts. As such, the tax plan shifts more of the costs of paying for North Carolina’s schools and other public services to middle-class and low-income taxpayers, and away from the wealthy and corporations.” Budget & Tax Center, Final Tax Plan Falls Far Short of True Tax Reform, August 2013.
  • “Since the Budget and Tax Center’s work is at the heart of the argument here, we asked the center’s director, Alexandra Forter Sirota, what she made of the 80 percent claim. ‘It’s just a very inaccurate use of the 80 percent number,’ Sirota said. She said it is important to note that, when the report concluded that the 80 percent of taxpayers who earned the least – those families taking home less than $84,000 per year – would on average see tax increases, the center was speaking about what someone would pay across all taxes, including income and sales taxes. It would be correct to say that at least 35 percent of families would pay more in income taxes, she said, accounting for the fact that the EITC expired. Another 16 percent would see their income taxes neither go up nor down. Sirota added that, because the sales tax revisions mainly expanded the tax base – applied sales tax to more items – it would be reasonable to assume that some of those who saw no change in their tax burden or paid only a small amount less would actually end up paying more to the government overall once sales taxes are factored in. ‘We feel confident that there is a majority who would experience a tax increase given the total tax package,’ she said. It’s impossible to put a firm number on that idea, however, because records don’t exist that can match what someone pays in income tax with how much they end up paying in sales taxes during a given year.” WRAL, Fact Check: Did GOP raise taxes on 80 percent in NC?, May 21, 2014.

 Buck Newton has been fined eight times for failing to pay property taxes on time:

    • 415 Sunset Road property taxes (Newton’s home): 2008 taxes were not paid until January 23, 2009, 2009 taxes were not paid until January 29, 2010, and 2011 taxes were not paid until January 19, 2012.
    • 2003 Ford: 2008 taxes were not paid until January 23, 2009, 2009 taxes were not paid until October 25, 2010, and 2010 taxes were not paid until September 28, 2011.
    • 2003 Dodge: 2009 taxes were not paid until October 25, 2010, and 2011 taxes were not paid until July 3, 2012.
      • (from Wilson County Property Tax Records for Account Number 69939977 and Wilson County Personal Property Tax Records for Account Numbers 1055470 and 1053254; as well as Wilson County Tax FAQ: http://www.wilson-co.com/Faq.aspx?QID=154)

Buck Newton voted to cut education funding to its lowest level in more than thirty years. He voted to fire more than eight thousand teacher assistants and eliminate thousands more teaching positions. The budget Newton supported dropped North Carolina to near the bottom in national rankings on teacher pay and per-student funding. Now, fifteen percent of state teachers have left their jobs – many to go teach in other states – and the state is facing a teacher shortage.

  • “WRAL News reviewed budget numbers for the last 30 years and found that the percentage of general fund dedicated to K-12 classrooms has been on a long, slow slide, even as the total dollars for education increased. … The slide has accelerated in recent years because of the national recession, and the $7.9 billion authorized in the 2013-14 budget meant only 37 percent of the general fund was earmarked for public schools.” WRAL, NC education spending on decades-long slide, July 8, 2014.
  • “The loss of 8,500 positions would amount to a cut of about 38 percent of the teacher assistant workforce. But this won’t happen all at once. Because the cuts are phased in over two years, about 2,200 teacher assistants would see layoffs in 2015-16 and around 6,300 in 2016-17. That’s based on the salary range for teacher assistants of $19,772 to $31,430 (Price said they average $31,496, including benefits).” WRAL, Sorting out the impacts of proposed teacher aide cuts, July 25, 2015.
  • “Education funding falls short in the 2013-2015 budget. Spending in the Final Budget for K-12 education fell $117 million short of what was needed to continue an already inadequate level of education services due to a repeated pattern of cuts to education. … These cuts impact the quality of educational instruction in classrooms and, consequently, threaten educational outcomes for our children. Increasing teacher-to-student ratios which reduces total funding for teachers by $286.4 million means local school districts may have to cut teacher positions. This loss of funding could result in 5,200 fewer teachers throughout our state.” Budget & Tax Center, 2013-2015 North Carolina budget short-changes students, teachers and public education, August 2013.
  • “The 2011-12 year showed the largest number of positions eliminated – 6,307.5 – and the largest number of layoffs, 2,418.1 but there have been steady cuts each year since 2008.” Department of Public Instruction, Public Schools Have Cut More Than 8 Percent of Staff Since 2008-09, August 31, 2011.
  • “The final NEA rankings for 2015 place North Carolina 43rd in per-pupil spending, however what is troubling is the state continues to fall further behind the national average. In 2013-14, North Carolina was $2,724 behind the national average. Despite moving up slightly in rankings, North Carolina fell further behind the national average with a gap of $2,792.” NCAE, C. Teacher Pay and Per-Student Spending Lags Woefully Behind Other States, May 13, 2016.
  • “A new draft report prepared for the General Assembly by the North Carolina Department of Education says the attrition rate in the last school year hit 14.84 percent, up from the 14.12 percent in 2013-2014. It has risen four times in the past five years. … As Education Week noted in this story, the biggest turnover problem seems to be in the category of teacher dissatisfaction with their jobs. It says: ‘North Carolina lost about 2,700 teachers last year due to causes that suggest personal dissatisfaction with the state’s public schools, whether through outright exit from the profession, poaching by other states, or early retirement.’” Washington Post, North Carolina teacher exodus rises — despite efforts to halt attrition, October 21, 2015.
  • “So it should come as no surprise that enrollment in the 15 schools of education in the public university system has dropped – by 30 percent since 2010. This forecasts a deepening teacher shortage in North Carolina, one that will impact tens of thousands of families.” News & Observer, In NC, a teacher shortage develops by design, February 4, 2016.

Buck Newton has voted for medically unnecessary restrictions on a woman’s access to a safe and legal abortion. He voted for legislation that dictates how a doctor must talk to his or her patient instead of letting the doctor determine the best care. And Newton even voted to require doctors to send photos of a woman’s private ultrasound images to state bureaucrats in Raleigh for collection.

  • “Senators on Tuesday tacked a suite of new restrictions and regulations pertaining to abortion clinics onto a bill dealing with the application of foreign laws in North Carolina family courts. … Abortion clinics would be required to have ‘transfer agreements’ with local hospitals. … Abortions clinics would be required to go through a licensing process similar to that of outpatient surgical clinics.” WRAL, Senate tacks sweeping abortion legislation onto Sharia law bill, July 3, 2013.
  • “We agree with the District Court that the surgical center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.” Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274 (2016).
  • “This statutory provision interferes with the physician’s right to free speech beyond the extent permitted for reasonable regulation of the medical profession, while simultaneously threatening harm to the patient’s psychological health, interfering with the physician’s professional judgment, and compromising the doctor-patient relationship. We must therefore find the Display of Real-Time View Requirement unconstitutional.” Stuart v. Camnitz, No. 14-1150 (4th Cir. 2014).
  • “A state law that takes effect Friday is raising privacy concerns. The law, which appears to be unique nationwide, requires doctors who perform abortions more than 16 weeks after conception to submit ultrasounds taken before the procedure to the state Department of Health and Human Services for review, regardless of whether the woman consents.” WRAL, New NC abortion requirement raises privacy concerns, December 31, 2015.

Newton Is Senator Least Likely to Go to Work

Records show Newton missed every sixth day of work as state senator

RALEIGH, N.C. – A new analysis shows Republican State Senator Buck Newton has made a name for himself not only as the champion of the discriminatory and economically disastrous HB2, but also as the elected official least likely to show up for work.

Newton is tied for the worst attendance record in the state senate, according to a report from the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

Of the 137 days the legislature was in session, Newton didn’t show up to do his job on 20 different occasions – the worst record of any state senator for the legislative session.

“On the 20 days Buck Newton skipped out on work, he missed 101 votes. Newton missed 101 opportunities to increase teacher pay, help strengthen our state’s economy, and protect our drinking water,” said North Carolina Democratic Party communications director Dave Miranda. “Most people I know would be fired if they didn’t show up to work 15 percent of the time, but Newton is asking us for a promotion.”

On the days Newton did show up to do his job, he championed HB2, which has cost North Carolina thousands of jobs and $395 million in economic activity. Newton was the primary State Senate sponsor of this disastrous law.

“Buck Newton’s constituents can’t count on him to show up for work,” added Miranda. “Newton is running for Attorney General. North Carolina needs someone who will show up for that important job every day, not someone like Buck Newton who champions unconstitutional and discriminatory laws.”

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Legislative statistics don’t lie
Patrick Gannon, STATE COLUMNIST October 16, 2015

Do you want to know how often your state House and Senate members voted with the majority of others in their chamber in the 2015 session?
Or how often they voted the opposite way of the outcome of votes? Or who cast the most votes in their chambers and who voted the least?
It’s simple. Go to the General Assembly’s website, ncleg.net. On the right side of the screen, under “Shortcuts,” click on “Votes on Bills.” Then, under the 2015-2016 session, click on “Member Voting Statistics” in the House or Senate.
Now, for those who don’t want to do that, here’s a condensed version:
HOUSE
House members could have cast a total of 1,099 roll call votes in the 2015 session, which began in January and ended late last month. Several members were present and eligible to vote on all 1,099 of those bills, but only one – Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican – cast a vote every time. Congratulations to the senior budget chairman in the House.
About 10 other House members were present and eligible to vote on all of the bills considered by the House this session. Three other members cast all but one of the 1,099 votes this session. They were Rep. Brian Turner, an Asheville Democrat; Rep. John Ager, a Fairview Democrat; and Rep. Michele Presnell, a Burnsville Republican. There must be something going on with the water out west.
Who took the least votes in the House? Aside from House Speaker Tim Moore – speakers don’t typically vote on many bills – Rep. Becky Carney, a Charlotte Democrat, cast the least votes (842). She had significant medical issues during the session. Next, it was Rep. Susi Hamilton, a Wilmington Democrat, who cast 852 votes, or 78 percent of possible votes.
And who voted most often the same way as the outcome of the vote? In other words, who was least likely to vote in the minority on bills? Other than the speaker, Rep. Ted Davis, a Wilmington Republican, voted with the winning side 98.6 percent of the time.
Finally, who in the House was most likely to vote against bills that passed? That was Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat and one of the more liberal House members. She voted against the majority 25 percent of the time, taking home the “Rock the Boat” award in the House.
SENATE
Senate members could have taken 764 roll call votes this year. Three Republicans – Sens. Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro, Norman Sanderson of Arapahoe and Jeff Tarte of Cornelius – took all 764 votes. So did Democratic Sens. Ben Clark of Raeford and Don Davis of Snow Hill.
Casting the least votes in the Senate were two Republicans – Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport (560 – He also had medical issues) and Sen. Buck Newton of Wilson (623).
Senate Republicans in general vote more in lockstep than their House colleagues. Several Republicans voted with the majority 99 percent of the time. GOP Sens. David Curtis of Denver and Rick Gunn of Burlington voted with the majority all but once, or 99.9 percent of the time. They get the “Go with the Flow” awards in the Senate.
The most likely to vote on the opposite side of passing votes were Democratic Sens. Gladys Robinson of Greensboro (22 percent) and Dan Blue of Raleigh (21 percent).
What’s the takeaway? These numbers can tell you a lot about your elected officials. Take a look at them before you vote next year.
Distributed by Capitol Press Association.
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/columnists/syndicated/2015/10/16/state-columnist-legislative-statistics-lie/74049402/