A report released by the Program Evaluation Division within the NC General Assembly highlights that North Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack, or better, among states for various taxes and spending metrics. For FY2009-10, metrics for which North Carolina ranked in the top half of states include:
- Per capita state expenditures (12th lowest among states);
- Per capita state and local taxes (17th lowest among states);
- State and local taxes as a percentage of personal income (23rd lowest among states); and
- Per capita state taxes (24th lowest among states).
These rankings disprove the claim that state spending and taxes in North Carolina are out of line. Our state ranks in the middle of the pack or on the lower end among states.
Additional information within the report highlights real challenges that North Carolina faces. North Carolina experienced the 6th highest percent change in population from 2001 to 2011 according to the report and ranked in the bottom half of states for a number of metrics, including: median household income (39th), unemployment rate (45th) the percentage of its population living in poverty (38th) and the percentage of its population under age 65 without health insurance (35th).
As lawmakers pursue tax reform during 2013, the claim that we need to cut taxes or eliminate whole revenue sources to be competitive doesn’t match up with these recent findings.
In particular, North Carolina should not look to its southern peer as gauges for action. Most southern states that rank better than North Carolina on taxes and spending outcomes perform worse than the state on other measures such as poverty, health insurance coverage and investment in public education – each of which impacts economic growth. Efforts to modernize the state’s revenue system should be guided by a commitment to ensure economic opportunity for all North Carolinians.