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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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It was just a couple of weeks ago that the McCrory administration was up in arms and demanding blood as a result of a new and critical audit of the North Carolina Rural Center. Indeed, judging by their statements and actions then and since, you’d have thought the Rural Center had been revealed to be some kind of organized crime outfit.

Of course, the whole thing was a bit of an overreaction. As we noted at the time:

“Troubling as some of the reports from the audit are, the plain truth is that the main accusation is simply that the Center has been doing what Governors and Departments of Commerce of both parties have been doing for decades: promising that amazing job growth and economic development would result from their investments of state funds and then sometimes failing to deliver (or keep good track of whether they delivered).

That’s not to say we shouldn’t reform the Center, but to simply ax it overnight as State Budget Director Art Pope has apparently decided to do smacks of something more than simple good budgeting practices — namely a partisan effort by Pope and his cronies to punish a group that they’ve always hated, mostly because of their perception that it has always been staffed predominately by Democrats and maintained close ties to Democratic politicians.”

Now flash forward to today and the release of a new audit — also from the State Auditor. This one, however, is not directed at a group hated by some for its historic ties to Democrats, but at the Department of Commerce itself. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

With the imminent release of the Governor’s budget—possibly as soon as later today—this is the last in a series of posts looking at key issues ahead in the FY 2013-15 North Carolina state budget. This post examines the Natural and Economic Resources (NER) area of the budget, the functional area that provides spending for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and a variety of programs associated with the state’s economic development efforts.  These include the Department of Commerce, the N.C. Rural Center, the N.C. Biotech Center, and about a dozen nonprofit entities that are funded as part of the Commerce-State Aid portion of the budget.

While the main story about NER in FY 2011-13 involved the dismantling of DENR’s regulatory functions and overall 49% cut in funding to the total budget area, the story for this biennium will likely involve the state pass-through funding from Commerce-State Aid to the various nonprofits engaged in economic development efforts on behalf of the state. 

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