Editorial: More fallout of eroded gentility

Dec. 10, 2012 @ 09:01 PM

North Carolina’s erosion of gentility between political parties is raising the risk of major harm for its people.

The latest that could be exposed to the stench between those symbolically represented by donkeys and elephants are mentally ill. About 2,000 people may not have a place to live when Medicaid rules change Jan. 1. The governor and General Assembly are trying to locate funds to assist group homes whose residents benefited from coverage for personal care services.

The change is the result of federal regulators pushing change to rules that steered people toward institutional care. New rules will ensure the same personal care eligibility standards exist no matter where people live.

There are options. Among them, Gov. Beverly Perdue can call the legislature into special session. The situation could be declared an emergency, and Perdue could handle it without a session.

But trust on Jones Street is as difficult to find as rainfall for the Roanoke River Basin.

Typical of outgoing elected leaders, Perdue has been getting in her last jabs and tries at establishing a legacy. She won’t undo 40-plus months in a matter of weeks.

That said, we don’t blame her for bringing lawmakers back to Raleigh. In January, she made the call for a veto override session and Republicans tacked on an unrelated bill late in the night.

One of Perdue’s legacies is a battle flag in the untrusting atmosphere. Her vote put the N.C. Education Lottery into operation under the administration of former Gov. Mike Easley. Perdue, devout follower of an education champ in former Gov. Jim Hunt, has played to the state’s powerful teacher union but also taken money from the lottery funds to balance the budget.

Critics call it her piggybank.

And while the state, despite Hurricane Sandy’s uprooting of N.C. 12, survived well the Atlantic Hurricane Season that ended Dec. 1, Perdue has also lifted $65 million from the Disaster Relief Reserve Fund during her tenure. All in the name of budget balancing while taking care of voting blocs.

Lawmakers and incoming Gov. Pat McCrory would be wise in 2013 to establish laws creating better checks and balances through our state constitution. Raiding coffers of designated funds is shortsighted, irresponsible and a hindrance to curbing government growth.