Sunday, July 14, 2024

NC trend: What you missed from Colin Campbell at NC Tribune

Racist literacy test still stuck in constitution

By Christopher Cooper

Another legislative session is over. That means, among other things, that we will spend yet another year with the literacy test enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution. 

Some may be surprised that a literacy test still exists in the North Carolina Constitution, but there it is, in clear language in Article VI, Section 4: “Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language.”

Because it is enshrined in the state constitution, the threshold for eliminating the literacy test is higher than it would be for other issues. At least 60% of the membership of both houses of the General Assembly must vote to place the question on the ballot and the majority of voters must then vote to eliminate the language. 

In 2013 and 2019, the N.C. House of Representatives passed bills to eliminate the literacy test, but the Senate never took a vote. In 2021, it was introduced once again, but despite a bipartisan list of co-sponsors, it never made it to a floor vote.

Most political observers agree that the time is long past to eliminate the literacy test from the state’s constitution. 

New funding source speeds up NCDOT projects

By Colin Campbell

Thanks to the legislature’s decision to shift revenue from the sales tax to fund transportation needs, the N.C. Department of Transportation has had to revise its long-range plan for construction projects. Essentially, the infusion of $628 million per year by 2025 will mean more projects get done this decade, and many of them will get moving faster.

The State Board of Transportation got an update recently on the long-range plan, known as the State Transportation Improvement Plan, or STIP. DOT is in the process of developing a plan that will cover 2024-2033. 

STIP manager Leigh Wing told the board that the legislature’s funding change will mean about $5 billion in revenue over the 10-year period covered by the plan. DOT plans to reserve nearly a billion dollars of that money for expected cost increases due to inflation. 

That means the projects funded under the 2024-2033 plan will total $32.8 billion, up from $26.5 billion in the draft plan released this spring before the legislature’s funding change. Wing presented an estimate that 92% of projects will remain on schedule, up from 83% in the earlier draft plan. 

But while the funding shift and better-than-expected overall revenue projections are good news for DOT, Wing noted that “the combination is not enough to provide enough funding to help all of the previously committed projects.” 

Follow The Money: Stein/Robinson fundraising

By Colin Campbell

No one has formally announced their candidacy for governor in 2024 yet, but the latest round of campaign finance reports from the likely contenders shows the race is well under way.

Both Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Attorney General Josh Stein raised well over $1 million in the first half of 2022, with Stein in the fundraising lead at just under $2 million. Both have amassed millions of dollars, the sort of war chest that could make other potential candidates reluctant to jump in.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, whose name occasionally surfaces as a potential candidate for governor, raised just $7,200 in the same time period. 

By contrast, during the same campaign finance reporting period in the 2020 election cycle, Gov. Roy Cooper raised $865,164 and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest raised $404,980.

Mark Robinson: Raised $1,534,527, has $2,113,675 on hand

Josh Stein: Raised $1,952,981, has $3,430,917 on hand

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