Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hunt, Hayes, Wilson now allies, of sorts

The fascinating thing about politics is how folks who are adversaries one day might turn out to be allies on another occasion -- sometimes even on the same issue.

Case in point: Smart Start, then-Gov. Jim Hunt's signature children's initiative that he proposed in 1993 during his third term in office. Among the state House members who fought Hunt's original plan and who raised questions about the program were then-Rep. Robin Hayes, R-Cabarrus, and Rep. Connie Wilson, R-Mecklenburg. Hayes raised questions about the lack of accountability in the original proposal to create a private nonprofit corporation that would use public and private money to provide a number of services to children, including but not limited to day care. The proposal first sailed through the House before Hayes and others pointed out that it was not subject to open meetings laws or public records laws.

And Wilson raised questions about what she feared would be the program's intrusive nature, worred that it "could threaten a church day care's right to teach the song Jesus Loves Me," and warned that the program would turn out to be "Jim Hunt's downfall."

Questions and objections raised by Hayes, Wilson and others led to some significant changes in the proposed program and helped bring about legislative approval of the bill. Hayes later challenged Hunt for governor, but lost the 1996 race. Hunt went on to serve a record fourth term as governor.

So guess who's trying to help save the Smart Start program now that Republicans run the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century? State Republican Chairman Robin Hayes and registered lobbyist Connie Wilson. 

Hunt has been working hard to save the program. Hayes, reports Dome in The News & Observer, warmed to the Smart Start program after then-Speaker of the House Dan Blue named him to a board overseeing the program. He recently gave what he said was a "limited testimonial" about the program, and said "there are some things Smart Start has done that are very constructive," according to Dome. The paper also said that Wilson had been hired to help try to save Smart Start from coming budget cuts.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

>> The paper also said that Wilson had been hired to
>> help try to save Smart Start from coming budget cuts.

Yeah, hired by pigs who feed at the taxpayer trough.