NC Employers Face End-of-Year Employee Withholding Form Mandate

Changes to North Carolina’s tax law taking effect January 1st, including reductions in the individual income tax rate and simplification and eliminations of deductions and exemptions, necessitated changes to the basic paperwork used to register employees with their employers for payroll deduction of state income tax payments.

Guidance issued mid-November by the North Carolina Department of Revenue requires all employers in North Carolina to have their employees complete and submit new Withholding Allowance Certificates (NC-4 and NC-4 EZ Forms) by December 31st.

The DOR’s guidance included the following overview:

Under this new law, all taxpayers will pay a lower rate and be granted a higher standard deduction. Taxpayers may no longer claim a personal exemption for themselves, their spouse, children, or any other qualifying dependents. Additionally, many deductions and tax credits that impact North Carolina withholding tax are no longer available for tax years beginning on or after January 1.

…The new form must be completed by the employee and provided to the employer so the correct amount of State income tax is withheld for any payment periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

Likewise, all recipients of pension or annuity payments must complete and provide to their payer a new Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments, Form NC-4P ,(Revised 11/25/13) in order to withhold the correct amount of State income tax for any pension payment periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

The NC Department of Revenue set up a special page on their website (click here) with all relevant information regarding these changes. Employers should consult the formal notification packet, which includes the revised NC-4 EZ, NC-4 and NC-4P forms and instructions.

Employers and pension payers with questions are encouraged to call 1-877-252-4487 to receive special assistance. This number will be active until February 28th.

Duke Scholar: 129 Million Americans will lose Current Insurance due to Obamacare

Chris Conover

A renowned researcher at Duke University reported last week that full implementation of the Affordable Care Act will force 68% of Americans with private health insurance, or 129 million people, to lose their current coverage.

Chris Conover with Duke’s Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research and the American Enterprise Institute, shared these findings in a statement released last week in response to comments made by David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser for President Barack Obama.

Responding to a comment Axelrod made that the majority of Americans will keep their existing coverage, Conover stated, “I suppose one could interpret this as a tacit admission that at least for those not in the vast majority, Obamacare violates President Obama’s June 15, 2009 promise that ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.’  But the sad reality is that David Axelrod himself also is dead wrong: it’s more accurate to say that the president’s pledge will be shattered for a solid majority of Americans with private health insurance coverage.”

Conover concluded that 129 million of the 189 million Americans with private health insurance will be forced off their plans as a result of the implementation of regulations and requirements of the Affordable Care Act. His analysis includes the following coverage eliminations:

  • 9.2 to 15.4 million in the non-group market
  • 16.6 million in the small group market
  • 102.7 million in the large group market

“Most of these are individuals involuntarily forced to purchase expensive add-ons to their existing plans,” Conover stated. “But included among these are the many millions now having their non-group policies cancelled along with 9 to 35 million who will lose their existing employer-provided plans entirely. Most admittedly will find other coverage, yet out of this group, 1.5 million will become uninsured, along with 2.3 million from the non-group market who likewise become uninsured because they simply cannot afford the expensive Obamacare upgrades.”

“In short, the ‘vast majority’ are not keeping their health plans. Statements to the contrary are flatly untrue.”

In a recent interview with The Daily Caller, Conover also discussed the significant impact of coverage mandates and how strict interpretation of “grandfather” clauses mentioned during President Obama’s promotion of health care reform would endanger existing health insurance options.

“Technically, every single health plan in the country already has been subject to at least some new Obamacare requirements. That is, even ‘grandfathered’ plans and self-insured plans were required to eliminate lifetime and annual limits and to cover dependents up to age 26 on their parent’s plan. Each of these “improvements” in coverage costs money, just as every feature you add to your car costs money (anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive)…

“So strictly speaking, NO ONE who was entirely satisfied with their pre-Obamacare coverage has been able to keep it.”

Congressman across the country have received calls from their constituents who received letters indicating their existing insurance plans, which they were supposed to be allowed to keep under the Affordable Care Act, have to be cancelled due to noncompliance with regulations.

North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones (R-3rd District) has called for Congressional hearings into the issue of cancellations and other cases where citizens are being forced to pay significant premium increases.

Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC 2nd)

“Individuals in Eastern North Carolina and across the country are being forced to pay exorbitant rate increases for new insurance plans that they do not want while being prohibited from visiting the doctors that they need,” said Congressman Jones in a letter to Congressional leadership.  “This runs directly contrary to the president’s promise that ‘if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan’ and is further proof that this law is an unaffordable burden to the average American.”

The latest report from the Associated Press indicates that approximatley 160,000 individuals in North Carolina have so far received cancellation notices for their existing policies. As a comparison, a recent report by WNCN television showed that only 1 person had signed-up for coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange.

So far, at least 3.5 million Americans have received cancellation notices.

As part of ongoing damage control resulting from the rollout of Affordable Care Act provisions, including the establishment of health insurance marketplaces and the impending individual insurance coverage mandate, the Obama Administration is asking insurance companies to provide better explanations to current policy holders who are being told their existing policies are being cancelled.

 

Senator Hagan Joins “Delay” Chorus on Obamacare

Earlier this month, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan stood firm with her Democratic Party colleagues against efforts by Senate Republicans to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, with the government shutdown over and mounting challenges present with the rollout of the massive expansion of government’s healthcare footprint, Hagan has now somewhat changed her tune on whether or not the program’s “individual mandate” provision should be enforced and delayed.

On Thursday, Senator Hagan asked the Obama Administration to extend the initial enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act by two months. She also asked the Administration to hold off on enforcing fines scheduled for those who chose not to enroll in a health exchange or purchase qualifying health insurance by other means.

“Everyone should be committed to making this work and making health care more affordable, and if that requires fixes, then we need to make those commonsense changes,” Senator Hagan said. “An extension would provide time to assess the extent of the problems and determine whether additional delays in the individual mandate are necessary. But frankly, the Administration had plenty of time to get these websites user-ready, and I would like to keep the pressure on to get these problems fixed sooner rather than later so that North Carolina families can get online and shop for the plan that suits them best.”

On September 27th, Senator Hagan voted for a Senate-led plan that authorized a Continuing Resolution without delaying Affordable Care Act implementation, including enforcement of the individual mandate.

“North Carolinians didn’t elect me to shut down the government, harm our state’s families, and jeopardize our economic recovery,” Senator Hagan said then of her position. “I reject the political games being played in Congress, and I urge the House to pass the Senate’s plan that keeps the government running at currently reduced spending levels and prevents a damaging government shutdown.”

President Obama already announced this week that the deadline for enrollment without penalty will be extended to March 31, 2014. The extension resulted from problems associated with the launch of the Federal Healthcare Exchanges earlier this month, specifically the inability of the healthcare.gov website and other online services to work properly or handle incoming workload.

Not everyone is convinced the proposed extensions will really protect citizens from fines, especially in light of reports that hundreds of thousands of people across the country are having to reconsider health insurance options after learning that their existing, personally-owned insurance coverage has to be cancelled because it does not meet new Federal requirements.

From Kaiser Health News:

Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state.  Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R) proposed legislation this week in the House to provide further protections from the proposed fines.

“Since the launch of the Obamacare exchanges on October 1st, Healthcare.gov has been plagued with delays, errors and fundamental flaws in website design,” said Congresswoman Ellmers. “But despite these major malfunctions and structural defects, the administration still has penalties in place for individuals who can’t obtain coverage.”

Senator Hagan will be up for reelection next year.

Furloughs at Fort Bragg reduced

The first day of the work week will see thousands of Fort Bragg civilian workers returning to their jobs after being furloughed last week as a result of the Federal budget shutdown.

Fort Bragg Patch reported on the announcement Sunday evening:

The majority of Fort Bragg’s furloughed civilian employees will return to work starting Monday, Oct. 7, according to Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Abel.

As directed by the Department of the Army, all civilian employees in support of Soldiers are to return to work at their next scheduled shift.  For the majority of Fort Bragg’s employees this means 8 a.m.

All U.S. Army Garrison Fort Bragg employees are to report to work at their regularly scheduled shift.

Approximately 400,000 defense civilian workers will return to their jobs on Monday, following an order made by Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel.

“I commend Secretary Hagel for acting on the urgent requests made by myself and my colleagues to end the unjustified furloughs of civilian defense employees,” said Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) in a prepared statement. “Fort Bragg employees across my district have been suffering due to the political games being played in Washington and I am grateful to the Defense Department for taking my letter seriously and acting immediately to allow employees to return to work on Monday.”

“As I have said throughout this crisis, I came to Washington to shutdown Obamacare, not the federal government. Here in the House, we passed a bill nearly a week ago to provide payment to our troops AND civilian defense employees prior to the government shutdown when it was becoming evident that Senator Harry Reid was not going to work with us.This was signed into law by President Obama and has been in effect since Monday. Yet until this afternoon, the administration refused to enforce it.”

Obamacare Exchange cuts NC Insurance Options

While four years of rhetoric by supporters of the Affordable Care Act stated that the program would broaden choices for citizens and enable those with health insurance to keep their existing plans, the upcoming reality for many in North Carolina may be just the opposite.

On October 1st, the Federal Government will open their managed health exchanges in states across the country, including North Carolina. When it happens, residents in the Tar Heel State will learn that only two health insurance companies will be participating in the program.

For residents of 61 North Carolina counties, the situation will be even more dire, as only one insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, will be providing coverage.

“We are now four days away from Obamacare’s implementation and each moment, we are receiving new reports as to how devastating this law will be for the men and women of North Carolina,” said NC Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-2nd District) in a statement released Thursday. “Yesterday, we discovered that health insurance rates are expected to triple for women and quadruple for men in North Carolina once this law goes into effect. Today, we were informed that virtual monopolies are now being created to sell this poison pill to our people.”

Earlier this week, an article at Forbes detailed research findings from the Manhattan Institute showing that health care premiums for 27-year-old individuals in North Carolina will increase an average of 151% for women and 267% for men. These are among the most significant increases to be experienced as a result of the setup of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

ACA Insurance Impact

“We were promised lower costs and more competition. Yet Obamacare is doing the exact opposite,” Congresswoman Ellmers said. “The whole point of an online marketplace was to provide options, so North Carolinians could go online, compare prices, and choose plans from different companies. That is how competition is supposed to work! Although seven insurance companies currently operate in North Carolina, under the new Obamacare exchanges, those options will dwindle down to one in the majority of counties.”

Congresswoman Ellmers joined the rest of the State’s Republican Delegation in the House of Representatives to support a bill last week that defunded the Affordable Care Act while providing a continuing resolution for other Federal spending.

The defunding provision will likely be taken out as the Senate considers the bill toward the end of this week, despite efforts by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and a handfull of others to point out the Affordable Care Act’s failures to live up to promised expectations.

Coventry Health Care, which is owned now by Aetna, will provide insurance coverage for residents in 39 counties. Locally, their map indicates coverage will be available to residents in Wake, Franklin, Nash, Edgecombe and Pitt Counties, but not Wilson, Northampton or Martin Counties.

Federal subsidies will be available to individuals making less than $46,000 a year and families of four earning less than $94,000 a year. According to reports, approximately 870,000 residents will be eligible for these subsidies, though levels of assistance will vary based on case-by-case characteristics.

NC-based Polling Group fails to share Colorado Recall Prediction

North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic-leaning political polling group, admitted on Wednesday that it did not share results from a poll conducted last week that predicted the successful recall Tuesday night of Colorado State Senator Angela Giron.

Giron, along with Colorado State Senate President John Morse, were recalled from office by voters in special elections Tuesday night. The recall efforts were organized in response to the Senators’ support of legislation adopted earlier this year by the State of Colorado that significantly restricted rights for gun owners.

PPP’s Tom Jensen discussed their rationale for not sharing the results in the following statement:

We did a poll last weekend in Colorado Senate District 3 and found that voters intended to recall Angela Giron by a 12 point margin, 54/42. In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll. It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers becaue she was indeed recalled by 12 points.

What’s interesting about our poll is that it didn’t find the gun control measures that drove the recall election to be that unpopular. Expanded background checks for gun buyers had 68/27 support among voters in the district, reflecting the overwhelming popularity for that we’ve found across the country. And voters were evenly divided on the law limiting high capacity ammunition magazines to 15 bullets, with 47% supporting and 47% opposing it. If voters were really making their recall votes based on those two laws, that doesn’t point to recalling Giron by a 12 point margin.

We did find on the poll though that voters in the district had a favorable opinion of the NRA by a 53/33 margin. And I think when you see the final results what that indicates is they just did a good job of turning the election more broadly into do you support gun rights or are you opposed to them. If voters made their decision based on the actual pretty unobtrusive  laws that Giron helped get passed, she likely would have survived. But the NRA won the messaging game and turned it into something bigger than it was- even if that wasn’t true- and Giron paid the price.

According to The Blaze, the citizen-initiated recall effort faced still opposition from a heavily-funded campaign, which attempted to retain both Senators by outspending recall supporters by a 7-to-1 margin. Among those funding efforts to retain the Senators was an interest group backed by New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

PPP’s decision to suppress last week’s polling results drew ire from fellow pollsters and data specialists, including the well-known statistical analyst, Nate Silver.

Jensen attempted to provide additional perspective on their decision to not release the results in a follow-up post:

As a private polling company, the vast majority of the polling we do is not released to the public. We do 1 or 2 public polls a week across the country, that we let you vote to pick on our website. We announce what states we’ll be polling and take question suggestions, and we’ve never not released one of those polls that was intended for public consumption.

Most of the polling we do though is either for clients or our own internal purposes and doesn’t get released whether it’s good for Democrats, good for Republicans, or somewhere in between.

In the case of the Giron recall, this was the first legislative recall election in Colorado history. There’s been a lot of voter confusion. We decided to do a poll there over the weekend and decide whether to release it publicly depending on whether the results made sense or not.

When we got the results back, we found that 33% of Democrats in the district supported the recall. It might be normal for Democrats in Kentucky or West Virginia to abandon their party in those kinds of numbers, but that doesn’t happen in Colorado or in most of the rest of the country. That finding made me think that respondents may not have understood what they were being asked, so I decided to hold onto it. I would have done the same thing if we’d found 33% of Republicans saying they opposed the recall.

If I’d thought we’d pulled a fast one on the world, I certainly wouldn’t have released the poll after the election. But I thought there was a fascinating disconnect between the results of the election- Giron getting recalled by a wide margin- and the opinions of voters in the district about the actual gun legislation that was passed- they broadly supported one of the provisions and were evenly divided on the other. There’s a fascinating story there in how the NRA was able to get voters to punish a Senator for supporting a bill voters didn’t actually have that much of a problem with, and I thought that was something that belonged out in the public sphere.You might not like the decision we made about how to handle this poll but there was a legitimate reason for it.

PPP conducts regular polling of political activity across the country, especially within North Carolina. Most recently, they conducted an early poll of Republican candidates for next year’s primary race to unseat Democratic Senator Kay Hagan.

 

NC’s Washington Delegation Splits on Syria

Prominent members of North Carolina’s Congressional Delegation are expressing opposing views on President Obama’s intention to use military force as a response to the recent deployment of chemical weapons in Syria.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, who also drew criticism from conservatives for opposing efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act, expressed support for military action in a statement issued August 28th.

Senator Richard Burr

Civilized people should be outraged by the deaths of thousands of Syrian civilians and the many more who have been maimed in this horrible civil war. The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians is morally repugnant and violates long held standards of conduct.  Short of putting troops on the ground, it is time for the United States and our NATO allies to take necessary, punitive military action against the Syrian regime and send a clear signal to its leadership, and others in the region who may be contemplating using weapons of this nature, that there are consequences for these actions.

Last Tuesday, Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (2nd District) came out in opposition to the use of US military force.

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-2nd District)

For more than two years we have witnessed the inner turmoil taking place in Syria and the horrendous atrocities executed by the Assad regime. Recently, reports have come out showing that chemical weapons have been used in cowardly attacks that have shocked the world in their brutality. These constitute a threat to our allies in Israel and Jordan and therefore warrant additional debate and preparedness.

But as President Obama and his administration begin to beat the drums of war in an area of the world which has witnessed significant bloodshed and turmoil for decades, we must take caution and ask serious questions regarding our interests and the price to be paid with intervention. We have learned so much from our history of involvement in this part of the world and the fog of war which clouds our judgment between friend and foe, perceived goals and collateral damage.

At this time, I see nothing but hardship, danger, and unprovoked sacrifice on the shoulders of our military, our troops, and their families. For these and many other reasons which have been echoed by my constituents, I cannot support military action against Syria at this time. Our focus must be on rebuilding our economy here at home after struggling for nearly five years under the President Obama’s economy.  Unless further evidence shows a clear threat to our national interests and a clearly defined vision of victory, this will remain my position moving forward.

First District Congressman, Walter Jones, also opposes action in Syria.

Congressman Water Jones (R-1st District)

I will vote against  any  proposal to authorize U.S. military intervention in Syria,” said Congressman Jones.  “The reality of America’s dismal fiscal situation is that any money spent to bomb Syria will be borrowed from overseas or will be taken from the Defense Department’s already-shrinking budget – resulting in even fewer resources for Eastern North Carolina military installations.  Neither of these options is acceptable.”

Furthermore, there are serious questions about the credibility of the Obama administration’s claims regarding the use of sarin gas in Syria.  The president has failed to explain how our national security depends on engaging in yet another Middle Eastern civil war on the side of radical Islamist rebels who have been documented as possessing sarin gas and beheading Christians, among other atrocities.

President Obama has requested Congressional authorization for the use of force in Syria. The President provided a summary of his justification for the request in his September 7th weekly radio address:

President Barack Obama

Almost three weeks ago in Syria, more than 1,000 innocent people – including hundreds of children – were murdered in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century.  And the United States has presented a powerful case to the world that the Syrian government was responsible for this horrific attack on its own people.

This was not only a direct attack on human dignity; it is a serious threat to our national security.  There’s a reason governments representing 98 percent of the world’s people have agreed to ban the use of chemical weapons.  Not only because they cause death and destruction in the most indiscriminate and inhumane way possible – but because they can also fall into the hands of terrorist groups who wish to do us harm.

That’s why, last weekend, I announced that, as Commander in Chief, I decided that the United States should take military action against the Syrian regime.  This is not a decision I made lightly.  Deciding to use military force is the most solemn decision we can make as a nation.

As the leader of the world’s oldest Constitutional democracy, I also know that our country will be stronger if we act together, and our actions will be more effective.  That’s why I asked Members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.

What we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention.  This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan.  There would be no American boots on the ground.  Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.

I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down.  That’s why we’re not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else’s war.

But we are the United States of America.  We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria.  Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons.  All of which would pose a serious threat to our national security.

That’s why we can’t ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one – even if they happen halfway around the world.  And that’s why I call on Members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in; the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations.

One of the President’s strongest supporters in North Carolina, Democrat Congressman G.K. Butterfield (1st District), expressed an open mind on the issue:

Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-1st District)

I’m deeply troubled by the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians in Syria.  As a Member of Congress, authorizing the use of military force is one of our most important responsibilities and it should not be taken lightly.  This situation deserves careful consideration and I look forward to a thorough debate in the Congress

For Republican Congressman George Holding (13th District), further information from the White House on the situation in Syria provides more reason to oppose military action:

Congressman George Holding (13th District)

After classified briefings and hearing directly from Secretaries Kerry and Hagel yesterday in the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am more skeptical than ever about President Obama’s plan to bomb Syria. For Secretary Kerry to say an attack on Syria – which when you get right down to it amounts to an act of war – is a limited strike, and then add we ‘are not fighting to win,’ doesn’t make a bit of sense.

What we heard today from the administration was purely and simply an exercise in minimizing and understating risks – and nothing I heard convinced me it is necessary to send one American soldier into battle.

The President will speak on the situation and his justifications for use of US force in Syria during a televised address on Tuesday evening, September 10th.

Halifax, Northampton to benefit from Grant for Prescriptions

Eligible residents in Halifax and Northampton Counties, along with North Carolina’s other Tier One, economically-distressed counties, will be the beneficiaries of $22 million in free and low-cost prescription drugs in the coming year. This is the result of a grant awarded to the NC Department of Health and Human Services by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

(NEWS RELEASE) The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced it has received a $773,728 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to provide free and/or low-cost prescription drugs in rural counties over the next 12 months. DHHS’ Office of Rural Health and Community Care will administer the grant through the state’s Medication Assistance Program to provide approximately $22 million in medication to residents in at least 18 of the state’s most economically distressed counties.

“Access to prescription medication is a critical part of meeting the primary care needs of low-income North Carolinians, many of whom have long-term and chronic health conditions,” said Dr. Robin Cummings, DHHS Deputy Secretary of Health Services. “With this additional funding, we can expand access to much needed medication and improve the quality of life for many local residents, particularly in underserved rural areas of our North Carolina.”

The grant funds are in addition to the $1.7 million that the recently signed budget provided for the Medication Assistance Program. The program supports organizations such as rural health centers, free clinics, community health centers, hospitals, senior centers, and health departments by helping patients receive free or low cost medications necessary for long-term or chronic disease treatment. Through this statewide program, residents in 75 counties are expected to receive an anticipated $135 million in free medications this year through pharmaceutical manufacturing programs.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has been a longtime supporter of the Medication Assistance Program and currently supports grantees in 18 counties* identified as economically distressed, or Tier One counties, by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The DHHS Office of Rural Health and Community Care assists underserved communities and populations to develop innovative strategies to increase access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all. The office, founded in 1973 by Governor Jim Holshouser, has served millions of people in underserved areas of the state by recruiting health care providers, supporting rural health centers and hospitals with grant funding and technical support, and subsidizing care and medication for low income and uninsured North Carolinians.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 to improve the quality of life and quality of health for the financially needy of North Carolina.

###

*Counties currently served by Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust funding for the Medication Assistance Program include: Beaufort, Bladen, Burke, Caldwell, Clay, Halifax, Northampton, Hertford, Lenoir, McDowell, Mitchell, Yancey, Montgomery, Moore, Rockingham, Rutherford, Surry and Wilkes.

Carolinas Gateway Partnership aligns with Research Triangle

cgp_logo(NEWS RELEASE) The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), leading economic development agency for the Research Triangle Region, has welcomed Carolinas Gateway Partnership to the RTRP team to market the Research Triangle Region. Carolinas Gateway Partnership, based in Rocky Mount, is a public-private industrial recruitment agency dedicated to the economic development of Nash and Edgecombe counties.

rtrp logo w. white margin_318x150“Our focus is a 60-mile radius surrounding the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park and we are excited to team with Carolinas Gateway Partnership to further market one of the most vibrant economies in the country,” said Charles Hayes, president and CEO of the RTRP. “The core drives economic development for the surrounding radius and we certainly welcome other partners to join our collaborative team approach.”

“We are proud to be affiliated with the RTRP, the area’s leading economic development agency, and look forward to working with their vast network of partners to further enhance the opportunities for Nash and Edgecombe counties,” said Gateway’s Chairman Frank Harrison.

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, the area within a 60-mile radius of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Research Triangle Park. The RTRP comprises economic development agencies across the region, who work with a wide range of public and private partners to market the region for new investment and direct strategic efforts to ensure the region remains economically competitive. For more information, visit www.researchtriangle.org.

Lt. Governor receives “response” from DPI on Common Core

North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, certainly received a response from the State’s Department of Public Instruction when he sent them a letter expressing his questions and concerns about the State’s adoption of controversial “Common Core” educational standards.

On August 2nd, DPI delivered to the Lieutenant Governor more than 40,000 pages of documentation in response to a 20-page, 67-question letter he submitted to Dr. June Atkinson. The boxes, folder, binders and more were delivered with a cover letter, signed by Dr. Atkinson, indicating that much of the documentation were hard copies of dozens of online sources used to answer most of the questions.

The Lieutenant Governor released this online video providing some idea of the volume included with the response:

As one can imagine, the response did not sit well with Forest.

“This is government bureaucracy at its best. When an administrative body that is required to provide information to its board members fails to be forthcoming with the requested information it should raise a red flag.”

“If the Lieutenant Governor, who is a member of the State Board of Education, has questions dismissed in this manner, imagine what will happen this school year when an individual parent or teacher asks these same questions. It is unclear to me, why a Department that is supposed to promote the Common Core Standards is hiding behind mountains of information and not offering clear, concise, common sense responses to very reasonable questions”.

Common Core standards were adopted in Math and English by the State of North Carolina in 2010, prior to the establishment of Republican Party control of the General Assembly (2011) and Governor’s Office (2013). Critics have questioned the program from many perspectives, including cost, effectiveness, privacy concerns and its potential ability to diminish local resident control of school systems.