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Sharon DeckerFor years, one area of common ground between conservatives and progressives in North Carolina has been their shared skepticism for business incentives. As analysts and advocates from both camps have shown dozens of times, state and local governments in North Carolina are pouring millions upon millions of dollars down a rat hole on corporate giveaways each year — sometimes just to lure businesses from one county to another.

Over time, the end result is an enormous drain on public resources that breeds cynicism, corruption and special favors and disadvantages homegrown, taxpaying businesses. To make matters worse, virtually every politician who campaigns for public office pledges to reform incentives and then, once in office, finds it impossible to do anything about the problem.

The latest case-in-point is Gov. McCrory who seems bent upon not just using corporate incentives, but dramatically expanding them. If you doubt this, check out reporter Andy Curliss’ article in Raleigh’s News & Observer about the administration’s utterly daft new proposal (given voice by Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker – pictured above) to tax fracking as a way of creating a giant slush fund to attract/bribe corporations: Read More

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If you can guess the answer to this question, you will have all the information you need to know about the 2013 North Carolina legislative session. Ready? Here goes:

Which of the following important dollar amounts in the North Carolina General Statutes have state lawmakers decided to raise by 25% and link to the Consumer Price Index maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics?

a) The state minimum wage
b) The per pupil allocation for each public school student
c) The weekly unemployment benefit drawn by claimants who are out-of-work due to plant closings
d) The maximum amount that big money campaign  contributors may bestow upon any one candidate during an election cycle

Got your answer? See the top comment below to see if you are right…

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As we reported in this space last week, the General Assembly is advancing a last-minute “regulatory reform” bill in the session’s waning days that is chock-full of dozens of special favors to industry lobbyists, including several new provisions to further restrict environmental protection.

Today, however, advocates discovered yet another hidden gem in the bill — a provision that will prevent forward-thinking local governments (like Asheville and Durham) from requiring contractors to treat workers decently. Read More

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Grover NorquistHow low have things sunk in the Raleigh policy debate? This low: A front group for corporations and greedy billionaires is bringing a has-been Washington lobbyist to town to promote higher taxes on poor and middle class North Carolinians and some are calling it a “tax reform” event.

Grover Norquist is about “reforming” tax policy in the same way that Rush Limbaugh is  about “reforming” American political discourse. Norquist is a well-funded bully who has done much to ruin the well-being of the Republic. His most infamous quote — that he wants to shrink government down to the size at which it can be “drowned in the bathtub” bespeaks the hatred and violent underpinnings of his noxious, greed-is-good “philosophy.”  

Norquist will confirm the dishonesty and hypocrisy that lies at the heart of his work today when Read More

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E-cigYou’ve got to hand it to the tobacco corporations and their high-priced lobbyists; when it comes to deceptive messaging and tactics, no one does it better than the merchants of death.  Apparently, nearly a century of practice really does make perfect in developing lies and half-truths and massaging them into feel-good media messages and legislation.

Consider the latest case in point in North Carolina. Big tobacco is currently ramming through legislation in both houses of the General Assembly that sounds as if it is all about motherhood and apple pie. The bill (which as been introduced and advanced in both the Senate and the House at the behest of the industry) operates under the title: “Prohibit E-Cigarette Sales to Minors.” 

“Electronic cigarettes” of “E-Cigarettes,”  as you probably have heard, are just the latest  tool for delivering life-threatening poison (i.e. addictive nicotine) to humans. E-cigs are already being advertised throughout the country as a hip and semi-safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. They’re already finding their way into schools and other places young people look for ways to be cool.   

Prohibiting their sale to kids sounds like a good idea, huh?

Unfortunately, Read More