Darts and laurels
Dart to the criticism Gov. Pat McCrory is taking simply because he gave hefty raises to two young staffers. The Democratic Scrooges out there are ignoring several positive messages in the pay hikes. For one thing, giving two 24-year-olds $80,000-plus salaries means they won’t have to live in their parents’ basement apartments, unlike a lot of other young adults struggling to pay back student loans on part-time work. Nor are they trying to make ends meet as their unemployment benefits expire. Also, these salaries might entice more young people to go into politics rather than a less promising, lower-paying form of public service such as, say, teaching school in North Carolina. But the primary reason critics should cheer these fat salaries is that they show Republicans aren’t all that different from Democrats. Whichever party is in power, political cronyism, favoritism and the patronage system are always at work. However much Republicans might tout the benefits of a skinflint government, rest assured it’s politics as usual inside the corridors of power in Raleigh.
Laurels to giving college students and their parents a much-needed break in tuition increases at North Carolina’s public universities and colleges. UNC President Tom Ross has called for a freeze on in-state tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year. The Board of Governors should give final approval when it meets in February. They also should extend the freeze beyond one term. Given the 90 percent rise in in-state tuition in the past decade, the paying public could use a longterm chill, not just a seasonal freeze.
Dart to glitches in the state’s new food-stamp distribution network that have caused delayed subsidies for needy recipients in Rowan and many other counties. Ultimately, officials say, the NC FAST (Families Accessing Services Through Technology) software system will speed services and make delivery more efficient. As is often the case with technology upgrades, however, the transition has been rocky, with processing backlogs that DSS offices are still trying to work through. After local offices voiced their concerns, state leaders planned to provide additional technical support and enhanced training sessions.