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Injunction on N.C. vouchers is good move

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood on Friday stopped the N.C. legislature from moving forward with a voucher program that diverts public funds to private schools. Good. This editorial board said Wednesday that we don’t think the plan passes constitutional muster. Moreover, we noted, the public money would unwisely support private programs that aren’t subject to the rigorous oversight that N.C. public schools receive.

Lawyers representing taxpayers, the N.C. School Boards Association and local school boards argued persuasively last Monday that the N.C. constitution prohibits using public money to pay private K-12 school tuition.

Voucher proponents argue that the scholarships are being funded from general funds, not designated public education money, and are thus constitutional. On Friday, though, one supporter, Rep. Paul Stam, intimated that lawmakers could fiddle with the law this year to get around that constitutional obstacle.

Instead of trying to fix a bad law, they should abandon it. In any case, this temporary injunction should remain in place while the courts consider the matter. And after they have, the program should get the death it deserves.

Technology worth cost to prevent car backup deaths

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is once again laying out plans for new rear-visibility guidelines that would make reversing (backup) cameras or other sensing technology mandatory on motor vehicles. It’s a life-saving change.

The death of an 18-month-old in Union County last Monday shows why. The girl was struck by a vehicle her father was backing up in their driveway. The dad had thought the child was playing in the backyard with siblings. Intending to run an errand, he went inside his house to retrieve his wallet. By that time, the toddler had left the backyard and went to the driveway. When he backed out of the garage, he struck the little girl, unaware she was there.

The NHTSA says shifting to camera-equipped vehicles could save between 95 and 112 lives per year. There is a price to pay. Equipping vehicles with reversing cameras will cost between $58 and $203 per vehicle. But most vehicle manufacturers have already wisely made the change, offering the technology on most new cars.

The NHTSA first proposed the rule in 2010. The new guidelines would be ready by next year. It’s past time to enact them.

Food stamp backlog – again?

Say it’s not true. Is the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services experiencing another food stamp backlog, after publicly declaring it had met a federal deadline to clear up the backlog or face the loss of funding? The Winston-Salem Journal reported that backlogs were again occurring in Forsyth and neighboring counties.

DHHS officials attributed it to the ebb and flow of processing applications, and Forsyth officials said the recent snowstorm limited the work hours of some employees. All is well, they said. We hope so.

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