ff-8292013It’s depressing as hell, but everyone who cares about North Carolina public policy should make this new report by the N.C. Budget and Tax Center’s Cedric Johnson: “Who Pays in 2014” a part of their Tax Day reading list.

As Johnson reports:

“Changes are coming to who pays taxes in North Carolina, and the news is not good for middle- and low-income taxpayers. This tax season marks the final year taxpayers will file their income taxes under the state’s old tax code and by next year it will be apparent to many taxpayers that the tax plan has not just reduced available dollars for investing in core public services, but also has increased the tax load for many. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

Yesterday I read about the new #BrandNCProject that the Department of Commerce had launched with UNC’s business school. News of the effort immediately drew mockery from some those who don’t like the direction the state is going in in comments sections of news articles and on Twitter.

The survey asks us what words best describe our enduring core values we hold as North Carolinians. The examples include kindness, diversity, loyalty, friendliness, compassion and courage.survey screen shot

“Enduring core values are basic fundamental principles that guide our individual behavior and both determine and reflect how we think and act toward others,” the survey’s instructions state.

I earnestly tried to answer this survey as a North Carolinian who cares deeply about my state’s future and wants its brand stand out, and as someone who wanted to possibly shape this project’s development.

I tried, but I couldn’t.  That’s because I believe holding values and practicing values are two different things. Building, sustaining and practicing “enduring core values” is hard work that is never completed. It takes investment and examination.

Living a principled life is a journey, maybe even a battle. It’s about the sum of our actions.

So maybe we should step back and reflect on some different questions: How are we as North Carolinians living up to our values?  Are we on the right path to being the friendly, diverse, compassionate, fair, creative place we aspire to be? If not, how do we get there?

However important a brand might be –and I don’t dispute it is— it just feels like our leaders are again putting appearances first. And that is not an enduring core value I want for my state.


Dean BakerDon’t get shut out of next Wednesday’s N.C. Policy Watch- N.C. Budget and Tax Center Crucial Conversation luncheon with one of America’s most important and insightful economists, Dean Baker.

Click here to register

Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is frequently cited in economics reporting in major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CNBC and NPR. He writes a weekly column for, The Huffington Post, Truthout and his blog, Beat the Press,, which features commentary on economic reporting. His analyses have appeared in many major publications, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, and the Daily News (New York). He received his doctorate in economics from the University of Michigan. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

When it comes to educating our children, the public is pretty clear in understanding you get what you pay for.

In a recent poll released by High Point University, 72% of respondents said they would favor a tax increase to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average. These results are similar to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in November which revealed that 68% of North Carolinians opposed cutting funding for public schools to provide taxpayers a tax cut.

Despite North Carolinians’ willingness to pay to ensure adequate funding of our public schools so that children can be better prepared for a 21st century economy, legislators moved in the opposite direction this past legislative session. Not only were teachers, whose salaries ranked 46th in the nation in 2012, denied a pay increase this year, but the salary incentive for teachers who earn master’s degree was eliminated and additional cuts were made to professional development and recruitment programs.

The legislature further undermined the ability of public education to prepare children for their future by reducing funds available for instructional supplies and textbooks, increasing teacher to student ratios and cutting funding for teacher assistants.

Read More


Not that it’s at all surprising, but new analysis from experts confirms that Gov. McCrory and his allies are dead wrong once again with their latest crowing about the drop in North Carolina’s official unemployment rate. Put simply, thee Guv is confusing a labor market collapse for good news. This is from the wonks at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

“RALEIGH (January 28, 2013) — North Carolina’s unemployment picture is much worse than it appears on the surface, according to new numbers released by the N.C. Division of Employment Security today. Although the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in December, this is due almost entirely to a historic collapse in the state’s labor force, not to genuine gains in employment.

Over the last year, the labor force shrunk by 110,930 workers—more than 2.5 percent—to the lowest levels in three years.  Read More