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Inside Carolina Politics: Burr explains his votes on funding bill, health care law

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U.S. Sen. Richard Burr

Republican Sen. Richard Burr voted Friday to allow a plan to keep the federal government open past Tuesday to go forward, while maintaining Obamacare.

“I have voted 56 times to defeat, dismantle, and defund Obamacare,” Burr said in a statement. “When Obamacare was first brought before the Senate in 2009, my fellow Republicans and I ... did everything in our power to stop this bill from moving forward. After Democrats rammed it through committee on a straight party-line vote, Senator Coburn and I spent countless hours on the Senate floor to rally against the bill and used every procedural tactic at our disposal to block its passage. Unfortunately, the 2008 elections gave Democrats an overwhelming majority in Washington, which they used to force Obamacare into law.

“I believed then, as I do now, that Obamacare would be a disaster for the American people,” Burr said. “...That is why my colleagues and I have never given up the fight to repeal this law in its entirety and replace it with patient-centered reforms that increase access and affordability to quality care and put patients and doctors back in charge.

“I voted today to advance the exact bill that a handful of my colleagues asked for. Filibustering such a bill is not only the height of hypocrisy, but also lays bare for the world the hollowness of this so-called strategy. Continuing resolution or not, Obamacare will get funded because it is largely made up of mandatory programs. A legislative strategy that takes into account neither the rules of the Senate nor the mechanics of the law you are seeking to dismantle is not much of a strategy, and making things up on the fly is not responsible governing.

“Instead, I will continue to work with my colleagues to bring people together to pursue serious legislative proposals to get rid of Obamacare, and make the case to the American people of the dangers of this disastrous law.” (Raleigh) News & Observer

New group supports schools

Tim Morgan, vice chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, is leading a new group that hopes to give school districts a stronger voice with state lawmakers. Local boards and “public education as we know it” face “a battle for survival,” according to a memo sent to school boards in August.

This summer brought a burst of legislation focused on public education, shaping everything from teacher pay to school ratings to vouchers. “We ended up having to play a lot of defense this last legislative session,” Morgan said.

The N.C. School Boards Association, a nonprofit with limited ability to spend money on lobbying, created the N.C. School Boards Action Center to hire lobbyists and do public awareness campaigns to promote the association’s legislative agenda. Morgan, who serves on the association’s board of directors, was chosen as president of the new action center board.

“What we face today is a battle for survival, both of public education as we know it and of the model of locally elected board governance of public school system operations,” says an August memo from Morgan and NCSBA President Evelyn Bulluck. “Our ability to endure in the face of these extraordinary challenges requires that we recognize and accept the changed environment in which we operate and embrace new ideas and concepts in thinking about how we advocate.”

The plan calls for a $431,000 budget, with districts making contributions ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on size. Morgan said CMS is paying its $10,000 share from the superintendent’s budget for lobbying.

The group has already drawn criticism from the conservative John Locke Foundation.

Terry Stoops, the foundation’s education director, said in a recent Carolina Journal article that local boards should refuse to contribute. “Tax dollars have no business being used to further the political agenda of any organization, let alone one that operates far from the mainstream,” Stoops said in the journal, which is published by the Locke Foundation.

Morgan (a Republican, like the majority in the House and Senate) says the action center’s bylaws prohibit the group from endorsing candidates. Ann Doss Helms

Rucho: Foxx causing delay

State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews, thinks Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is behind the federal government’s slow pace in deciding whether to approve Charlotte’s new airport commission.

As Charlotte’s mayor, Foxx strongly opposed a new airport authority that would remove control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the City Council.

Now that Foxx is the boss of the agency overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration, his office says he’s recused himself from all Charlotte-related issues.

That includes the FAA’s decision on whether to allow the commission to run Charlotte Douglas. Until the agency makes its decision, the airport remains under city control.

Rucho doesn’t buy Foxx’s recusal.

“Former Mayor Foxx is doing his best to block it,” Rucho said. Although he said he doesn’t have any evidence of the former mayor’s meddling, Rucho said there’s no other explanation for why the decision hasn’t been made.

“There is no reason for this to be delayed,” he said. Ely Portillo

Harris recruits Rusher

The Rev. Mark Harris won’t officially enter North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race until later this week. But he’s already snared another former official of the state Republican Party to run his campaign.

Harris announced that Mike Rusher will manage his campaign. Rusher, former chief of staff for the state GOP, joins former state party chairman Robin Hayes, who will co-chair the Harris campaign.

Harris is pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He plans a fly-around announcement tour on Wednesday, starting in Wilmington and ending in Charlotte.

Rusher headed the national GOP Victory Campaign in North Carolina in 2012. Before that he was an aide to state Senate leader Phil Berger. The announcement of his position with the Harris campaign came a day after Berger formally bowed out of the Senate race.

Harris will be the fourth Republican to announce for the seat of Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, joining House Speaker Thom Tillis, Cary physician Greg Brannon and Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant.

Rusher was victory director from January to August 2012. He left to join the N.C. GOP first as operations director then as chief of staff. Jim Morrill

Rove to raise money for Tillis

GOP strategist Karl Rove will headline a series of fundraising events for U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis in mid-November, an aide to the former Bush administration official confirmed. The details are still being finalized, but Rove and Tillis are likely to hit events across the state, Tillis allies said.

This week, Tillis will attend a reception hosted by Rove’s political action committee, Crossroads GPS, which spent big money in the 2012 election. Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan used Rove as a foil in one of her recent fundraising pitches – showing Rove’s close link to Tillis may help both sides. (Raleigh) News & Observer

Ann McCrory at Family Day

North Carolinafirst lady Ann McCrory made a rare public appearance Monday when she celebrated Family Day with more than 70 students and parents for lunch at Elm City Elementary in Wilson.

Family Day promotes parental involvement to help prevent substance abuse in children and teens.

“I am honored to join 28 other First Spouses from across the country by serving as an Honorary Chair of Family Day,” McCrory said. “I encourage families across North Carolina to make a commitment to spend more time together. Every day activities, such as eating dinner, hosting a game night or tucking your children into bed can make a huge impact and help prevent substance abuse.” (Raleigh) News & Observer

Cooper lays groundwork

In another sign that Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid in 2016, he has officially changed the name of his political committee from Cooper for Attorney General to Cooper for North Carolina.

Cooper has stepped up his visibility and has been privately telling Democrats of his interest in challenging Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Two Democrats have already announced: former state Rep. Ken Spaulding of Durham and former Chapel Hill Town Council member James Protzman. (Raleigh) News & Observer

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