From 2009 to 2012, North Carolina's unfunded state pension liabilities skyrocketed by nearly 700%. That's the findings of new data released by the Institute for Truth in Accounting's State Data Lab project.
During the economic recovery that began in 2009, states had the opportunity to improve the condition of their pension funds by contributing money needed to be confident they could pay pensions promised to employees. Yet in 8 states the problem (called "unfunded liabilities") got worse.Between 2009 and 2012, California, Delaware, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, allowed their pension funds to deteriorate. Their pension funds required more dollars in 2012 than were needed in 2009 to fully support their promises. These states are taking on water in their own ships, despite warnings of potential problems paying pensions promised to future retirees.
The Winston-Salem Journal has written a couple of articles about the on-going troubles surrounding the Forsyth County elections director, Rob Coffman.
In the most recent article, on Dec. 3, it was reported that the three members of Forsyth County Board of Elections unanimously voted to ask the State Board of Elections (SBOE) look into nearly 600 voter registration cards that had been held at the Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) Post Office. (More than 100 were four years old). According to election policy and procedure and according to U.S. Post Office regulations, the undeliverable cards are to be returned to the sender (the Forsyth BOE) by the post office. But, according to Coffman, the local BOE had an "informal agreement" with the university post office for the post office to hold the cards and the BOE would retrieve them when notified.
Civitas reported in an earlier article, posted on Sept. 18, that WSSU’s director of media and public relations, Nancy Young, said that the university's postal employees had called the Forsyth BOE numerous times to let them know that the undeliverable mail was stacking up — but the BOE never retrieved them. Coffman continues to dispute that claim though, in the Dec. 3 article, he responded to Young's quote by saying “we’ve never had a call that was ignored.”
Coffman has a proclivity for throwing others under the bus when he sees trouble coming his way. He did the same thing in the aftermath of a fiasco that included accusations he created and fostered a hostile work environment, and skirted election laws. At least five employees who either made official complaints or gave statements that described Coffman's inappropriate behavior (including calling an African-American staff member a "crack ho") have either been fired or resigned as a result of toxic working conditions.
In addition to the cards, the local board also asked the SBOE “to determine if the ‘registration, printing, mailing, and overall handling of these election documents’ was in full compliance with general statutes and elections laws,” the newspaper reported.
For the people of Forsyth County, the concern should be that inevitability Coffman's behavior will affect his ability to administer elections effectively and with any perception of integrity. One could even point to the most recent municipal elections in September and November of this year as an example.
In addition to the discovery of the hundreds of voter verification cards, we read about questionable absentee ballots and also a botched recount in a contest for a municipal election. That race appeared to be won by the incumbent by one vote, but after a provisional ballot was counted the tally ended in a tie. Following a recount, with the vote still tied, the challenger won a blind draw and was named the winner. But, a week later one of the observers to the recount pointed out that the total number of votes in the recount was one higher than the initial count. This revelation led to another recount, which ended with the incumbent winning by one vote. Unfortunately, this debacle led to the disclosure of the provisional voter's identity, which in turn revealed how she voted. This should never have happened. In fact, North Carolina law is clear, 163-165.1(e) states that; "Voted ballots and paper and electronic records of individual voted ballots shall not be disclosed to members of the public in such a way as to disclose how a particular voter voted, unless a court orders otherwise."
On second thought, that sentence should read: "For the people of Forsyth County, Coffman's behavior and performance may have made it impossible to have confidence he can administer elections effectively and with full assurance of integrity.”
This clip has not received much publicity. Last week, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, June Atkinson shared her views with a Wilmington TV reporter about the type of schools potentially receiving students under the state's new voucher program. School of Terror? What else can you say? If nothing else, the comments plainly show who does and does not trust parents to make the right decision.
The Obama administration yesterday urged North Carolina legislative leaders to reconsider expanding Medicaid, as reported by WRAL.com.
"This is actually a net budgetary benefit to those states that choose to expand Medicaid," said Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary for President Barack Obama. Earnest along with Durham Mayor Bill Bell and state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, participated in a conference call with North Carolina-based reporters today.
All three pressed the point that expanding the health insurance program would allow 377,000 North Carolina residents to obtain coverage. Most of those would be those who earn too much to qualify for the current Medicaid program but are too poor to qualify for health insurance subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act.
A few questions for those Medicaid expansion proponents:
- The federal government continues to run massive deficits, needing to borrow more than 1 in every 4 dollars it spends. Where do you propose the money will come from to pay for the Medicaid expansion?
- Given the near-constant and continuing "budget crises" coming from D.C. in the form of "shutdowns", debt ceiling deadlines, and an inability to pass an actual budget for years, what assurances does NC have that the federal gov't will live up to its promises to help fund the Medicaid expansion?
- Moreover, the feds will only pay for Medicaid expansion for the first few years, then the state will have to assume a share of the costs, which will impose an additional burden of hundreds of millions of dollars per year on an already overly bloated state Medicaid system. Where to you propose the state will get the money to pay for this?
- How many of the alleged 377,000 North Carolinians you claim will be added to the Medicaid rolls under expansion will merely be switching from current private health insurance plans, shifting them to greater government dependency and helping to snare then in a poverty trap?
- Since 2001, NC's Medicaid program has added more than 600,000 enrollees, while at the same time the number of physicians accepting Medicaid patients has decreased; meaning Medicaid enrollees have woefully inadequate access to care. Who would these new Medicaid enrollees see when they get sick?
Of course, those advocating for Medicaid expansion have no answers to these questions. Fact is, they simply don't care. Their only concern is increasing political power by keeping a segment of the population poor and dependent upon the government, thus expanding their voting bloc.