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What the Media Isn’t Saying about Leandro

The NC Chamber is not in the business of getting clicks on its content. Our mission is to research, develop, advocate, and communicate for solutions and policies that produce a nationally competitive business climate in North Carolina. Many of the issues we advocate for are, however, covered by those who do make a living based on clicks to their content.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about media coverage of North Carolina politics is the partisan spin on every issue. Senator Dan Blue remarked at our Government Affairs Reception in May that he and Senator Phil Berger agree on more than you would think. He’s right. If you are exclusively informed by our state’s media outlets, and most people are, you would think there is nothing on which our elected officials agree.

The Leandro case is an excellent example of an important issue that has become a partisan story, devoid of any analysis on the long-term implications of what our state’s highest court is projected to do later this month.

Let’s be clear. The NC Chamber is fully supportive of a continued dialogue on investment in education. Unfortunately, the action at the N.C. Supreme Court on the Leandro case isn’t just about education funding. The primary issue is now whether the N.C. Supreme Court has the authority to direct the appropriations process. The separation of powers clearly directs this discussion to take place on Jones Street, at the N.C. General Assembly, not Morgan Street, in the courts.

Interestingly, there has been little discussion in our state’s news outlets about this potentially groundbreaking shift in constitutional process. While there are several investigative news teams across the state, no one has really dug in on what it would mean for justices to be able to direct the appropriation of funds once this precedent is set. North Carolinians can lobby members of the legislature and advocate for their perspectives. North Carolinians cannot offer their input to members of the court unless they are a party to the case before the court. Justices are only elected every eight years, while the legislature is held accountable to North Carolina voters every two years.

If a court can direct money to a state agency, could they also remove money from a state agency? Could a court take away education or transportation funding? Will a court now determine what the state health plan can and cannot cover with its funds? If a court determines additional funding is required, will they also determine how that funding is secured and begin to establish tax policy?

These are the long-term ramifications that the NC Chamber is in the business of analyzing. We do not have the luxury of operating in news or election cycles. Our members are invested in North Carolina for the long haul. We need a predictable environment for job creators to be able to operate as effectively as possible and make key investments in our state.

The recognition as the top state for business does not happen by accident. It takes thoughtful, collaborative, long-term thinking. It would be refreshing to see our state’s media outlets think that way once in a while.

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For a more detailed analysis on the Leandro case, click here. An example of the political nature of the issue, and how it impacts the NC Chamber, is reported here.