Good afternoon, I hope everyone is having a great week.
We are hoping to wrap up the majority of our legislative business this week and head home early next week. The House and Senate have reached an agreement on our bond package which will be on the ballot for the 2016 Primary Election.
The bond is for $2 billion and spends $980,000,000 on the UNC System, $350,000,000 on the Community College System, $312,500,000 on infrastructure, $70,000,000 on the National Guard, $179,000,000 on agriculture to fund the Plant Science Initiative and new State Ag Labs, $100,000,000 on parks and attractions, and $8,500,000 on Public Safety. Out of the community college portion of the money, Sampson Community College will receive $4,774,533, Johnston Community College will receive $3,701,470, and James Sprunt Community College will receive $4,502,677.
We have also passed legislation to reform North Carolina’s troubled Medicaid program. This reform is long overdue and I am proud that we were finally able to get over the hurdles that have impeded reform in years past. We believe this plan will achieve better budget predictability and sustainability by moving to a “capitated” system within a few years.
This means the state will ultimately pay a flat fee to cover all physical, mental and long-term care services for most Medicaid recipients instead of paying “fee for service” which has proven more costly. Under the new capitated system, the state will enter into contracts with both provider-led entities (PLEs) and managed care organizations (MCOs). Medicaid has been one of the fastest growing expenditures and most unpredictable aspects of our state budget, which has made it difficult for budget writers to accurately account for the program.
Question of the Week
Thank you to everyone who weighed in on last week’s question asking you for your top priority for the bond package we are currently working on. The Community College System was the overwhelming favorite, gathering 62.5 percent support. The National Guard was second with 25 percent support and the remaining responses being split between State Agencies and the UNC System.
For this week’s question, I would like to get your opinion on the election of judges. Prior to 1996, all judges in North Carolina were elected in a partisan manner, meaning they ran as a member of a particular political party. Since then, we have phased out partisan judicial races and now all judicial races are non-partisan. Today, there is a bill in the Senate Rules Committee that would make judicial races for the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals partisan. Superior and District Court races would still remain non-partisan. Do you support changing Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to partisan elections?
I look forward to hearing from you.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in any way possible.
Brent Jackson is a N.C. senator representing District 10, which includes Sampson, Duplin and Johnston counties.