Commentary, News

New NC Policy Watch report: Half-decade of conservative rule has altered, weakened North Carolina

N.C. Policy Watch will unveil a special report over the next several days that documents the dramatic changes brought about by five years of conservative political leadership in the Tar Heel state.

“Altered State — How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina,” contains eight new news stories and three new works of commentary and analysis that document and explore the fundamental policy changes that have transformed North Carolina from one of the South’s most consistently progressive states into one of its most conservative. The first installment will be released online December 1.

As N.C. Policy Watch Executive Director Chris Fitzsimon explains in the introduction to the report:

“In October 2011, just a few months after the end of the first General Assembly session controlled by Republicans in more than a hundred years, House Speaker Thom Tillis told a small group of GOP faithful in Mars Hill that one of his goals was to ’divide and conquer’ people on public assistance.

Tillis, now a U.S. senator, explained that he wanted to get people with disabilities to “look down” at others on public assistance, low-income families whom he deemed unworthy of public support.

It was a revealing moment for the new Republican majority in Raleigh, laying bare one of their goals, to unravel the social safety net in pursuit of their aim to shrink the government they disdain and slash taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

It is part of an agenda they have pursued without pause in the last five years, and the damage to North Carolina has been remarkable and stunning to behold.”

The report features news stories from the N.C. Policy Watch team of journalists that detail ongoing assaults on many of the state’s most important public structures – from the social safety net to its environmental protection infrastructure to its systems of public and higher education. The report also explores the ongoing efforts to advance the Right’s social agenda as well as efforts to cement conservative victories by altering the makeup of the state’s courts and voting laws.

An essay from the Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center documents the dramatic and destructive changes that have been inflicted on the state’s fiscal policies over the least five years, while commentaries explore how the dramatic changes came about and what the future holds. A “Numbers” feature which replicates the popular N.C. Policy Watch “Monday Numbers” column weaves throughout the report to make concrete many of the most important changes in state policy.

According to Rick Glazier, the Executive Director of the Justice Center, the report will be a “must read” for anyone, inside or outside of North Carolina, who wants to understand what has happened to the state and the direction it needs to head going forward.

“It’s a remarkable and sobering report,” Glazier said. “The damage that has taken place over the past five years has been enormous. But if we’re going to turn things around in the years to come and put North Carolina back on the path to progress, it’s imperative that people understand where things stand. This report does a great job of bringing home the nature of the challenges we face.”

The report will be released each morning over the next three weeks via the website:

For more information, contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or

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