D. Craig Horn Newsletter – June 6
It was a late night on Friday, June 3. The House met from 2 pm till about 11:30, took a 20-minute break and re-convened at midnight to hold a final vote on the 2011-12 budget.
As you all know, the budget passed both the House and Senate and is now in the hands of the Governor. This will be interesting to watch. The budget was passed with a veto-proof majority insofar as 5 of the minority party voted with the majority in the House; the Senate already has a veto-proof majority.
The final budget is a combination of the original House budget and the changes made by the Senate. The final budget restores over $300 million to K-12 education, fully funding every teaching and every Teacher Assistant position in the state, and restores more than $100 million to the UNC system. This budget kept our promise and we eliminated the “temporary” 1 cent sales tax that was due to expire on July 1 but had been kept in the Governor’s proposed budget, returning over $1 Billion to North Carolinians. The process was long and hard, the decisions were painful. It would certainly have been much more fun to spend than to cut, but I believe that you sent us here to “right-size” government and stop unfunded mandates. This budget is certainly not perfect, but it is sound and responsible given the cards we were dealt.
There is still much work to be done and many very controversial bills to be considered. Time is short, so the coming days will be very long. We have the Justice Reinvestment Act, the Woman’s Right To Know Act and the Voter ID bills just ahead. This is the last week to pass legislation and get it over to the Senate in time for their action so that it can go to the Governor. I have personally been very busy trying to find a solution to the rapidly expanding threat of meth labs in this state. Our own State Bureau of Investigation predicts that we will have over 400 meth incidents in NC this year. According to available data, each incident has a total cost of $350,000. That means that we will spend about $140,000,000 to just deal with meth just this year. We simply do not have the money, the jail space or the court time, and that does not account for innocent lives destroyed as a result of this terribly addictive drug. There are many more productive uses for our revenues than chasing this stuff. My bill will mirror what has been done in Oregon and Mississippi and return pseudoephedrine, the one absolutely necessary ingredient to make meth, to prescription-only status. The fears of inconvenience and increased costs did not bear out in the two states that have already done this. And, the crime rate in those states has dropped enormously, saving the taxpayer even more millions of dollars. There is plenty of scare-mongering accompanying my actions. I hope that each of you will look at all the facts before making final judgment.
So far this year, there have been 932 bills filed in the House and 780 in the Senate. Some bills were introduced concurrently in order to expedite the process (it doesn’t!). The governor has signed about 100 bills. Most of the pending bills will not get to her desk this year, most won’t even make it out of one house, let alone both. If you have a bill of particular interest, please let us know and we will find the status promptly.
So far this legislative year, I have been honored to speak with students in nearly 20 schools across Union County. I have learned a lot and have been very impressed with the quality of both the students and the teachers. I am blessed to represent such a wonderful group of people.
Redistricting is just ahead. We will probably be called back into Session to deal with that. We will also be called back if the Governor vetoes the budget. In the meantime, please stay in contact. Call us at 919-733-2406 or email Craig.Horn@ncleg.net. Don’t let us be here un-supervised and please don’t let me make a decision with my head in a sack. I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks and months.