#ncga: Common Core, coal ash commissions (and their price tags)

moI’ve never been a big fan of study commissions organized by politicians. They are almost always easy ways out for politicians looking to avoid having to take a tough stand on a controversial issue.  They are great opportunities to appoint cronies, and allow them to make a little money off of the state or federal governments.  But they rarely provide any substantial benefits to the taxpayers.

The convoluted bureaucratic maze that is North Carolina’s public education management system is getting even more expensive.  The state Senate recently approved legislation setting aside $100,000 from the state board of education’s budget for legal fees to fight a lawsuit pitting the state vs. the state board of education. (One arm of the state suing another branch? Nice.) 

The Senate legislation also mandates that June Atkinson’s Department of Public Instruction will fork over $275,000 to the Department of Administration to help cover the costs of the commission established by the legislature to study Common Core.  The bill also forbids ANY of this money to be used for conducting a survey about Common Core or hiring someone to do the survey. What WILL this money be covering?:

[…] From these funds, an amount equal to the total of all costs incurred  by the Department of Administration prior to the enactment of this act to support the operations  of the Commission shall be credited to the Department. Expenditure of the remainder of these  funds shall be made upon authorization by the Commission, only for the following:  (1) Administrative assistance, including professional and clerical staff and any  contracts for professional, clerical, and consultant services. Consultant  services may include contracts with qualified experts on academic standards  that may be used as an alternative to the Common Core Standards, including  other state academic standards.  (2) Technical assistance, including meeting rooms, telephones, office space,  equipment, and supplies provided by the Department of Administration in  accordance with Section 2(f) of S.L. 2014-78.  (3) Per diem, subsistence, and travel allowances provided to Commission  members in accordance with G.S. 138-5, 138-6, or 120-3.1, as appropriate..

Legislation approved on Jones Street in 2014 established a Coal Combustion Residuals Management Fund.   This is a special fundlegis managed by the state treasurer that will be made up of $2.35 million worth of fees paid by Duke Progress for coal ash clean up.   This year’s Senate legislation says the special coal ash commission — itself the subject of a legal spat between the governor and legislature – -will get 26.5 percent of that money, while the rest will go to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Senate legislations calls for the creation of up to 25 new positions within DENR — budgeted $1.75 million —  to handle coal ash cleanup. Five new positions will be created within the Department of Public Safety to deal with the coal ash issue — at a price tag of $630,000.

It’s amazing.  We elect governors and legislators to go to Raleigh and make tough decisions.  We pay for all of these agencies to execute those tough decisions.  And we STILL get these commissions that cost more money and ADD to the government payroll.

And to think that they’re going to make us pay MORE for gasoline because they have NO MONEY to pay for roads.