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Bill SchwekeOne of  North Carolina’s most experienced and insightful economic development experts, retired CFED wonk and former Senior Fellow Bill Schweke, forwarded the following brief essay in response to the series in Raleigh’s News & Observer on North Carolina’s rather amazing generosity in dispensing tax breaks and other giveaways to businesses in the name of “economic development.”  

JUST SAY “NO”
By William Schweke

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The new series in Raleigh’s News & Observer (“The Missing Money”) provides a near perfect illustration of this adage in the field of taxes, subsidies, and business attraction.

Like most states desperate for new jobs during the Great Recession, the price tag for the state’s package of general tax loopholes and company-specific, tailored incentives has increased significantly, during the past few years, with very little pushback from critics.

Indeed, the debate has tended to be framed as follows: Read More

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If you want to get the gist of what the new version of the state budget as advanced by the NC Senate is about, check out this story by Lynn Bonner in Raleigh’s News & Observer.

In one fell swoop, GOP leaders voted to say “yes” to preserving a tax break for profitable businesses that they slipped into the budget while no one was watching last session and “no” to compensating victims of the state’s horrific, mid-20th Century eugenics program.

Thanks for making things so clear, Senators!

 

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The government watchdog Common Cause North Carolina is calling on Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council and its claim of nonprofit status. According to a letter the group is asking folks to sign and forward to Cooper:

“Common Cause has discovered compelling evidence that ALEC is a corporate lobby masquerading as a charity. It devotes its $7 million annual budget to lobbying for laws that will boost the profits of its member corporations but it pays no taxes and solicits corporate contributions with a promise that donors can deduct gifts on their annual tax returns.

That’s not right. As attorney general, the person we elect to enforce state laws, you shouldn’t stand for it.”

Click here for more information.

 

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Chris Fitzsimon and others have written eloquently about what’s really driving the growth of charter schools in a lot of places, including North Carolina. Hint: it isn’t an altruistic commitment to the expansion of young minds. And no, it isn’t right-wing, true believer ideology about “the genius of the market” and the evils of government (although that’s certainly another one).

No, in this case, the driving force behind charters is this: money — as in the chance to make a lot of it. Read More

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Everyone knows this is a time in which jobs are at a premium and in which politicians and developers are happy to welcome just about any new business to their communities.

But, isn’t somebody going to mention the fact that Charlotte’s new big, new soon-to-be resident, Chiquita Brands International (aka United Fruit), is a corporation with a well-earned reputation as one of the most notorious and rapacious corporate exploiters in modern history?

Add to this the fact that to land the company, state and local officials had to ply it with public funds and lure it away from another American “Queen City” in need of jobs and it’s enough to make the whole thing feel extremely dirty and distasteful.

Maybe “Chiquita” has mended some of its ways since the days in which its bosses were treating entire nations as play things, but if its most recently displayed willingness to extort public funds is any indication, it still has a long way to go.