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Dean BakerHere’s an event you won’t want to miss: On Wednesday March 26, N.C. Policy Watch will host one of America’s leading economists, Dr. Dean Baker,  for a special Crucial Conversation.

Click here to register

Dean 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 theguardian.com, 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

“We can’t afford it.” This is the prevailing refrain of state leaders nowadays in their efforts to explain away or rationalize their waning support for investing in North Carolina’s future.

Whether the issue is pay raises for K-12 teachers and other state employees, supporting targeted economic development initiatives, protecting the state’s natural resources and environment, one repeated excuse is that revenue is not available for such public investments.

This excuse was used once again in a memo by Art Pope, State Budget Director, in response to the UNC Board of Governors’ (BOG) 2014-15 budget request. In the memo, Pope informs the BOG that its budget “simply is not realistic” and warns that funding the respective budget request “would require the Governor and General Assembly to make major reductions in other state agencies and programs, such as our courts, the “K-12” public schools, and health care.

North Carolina is NOT broke. The costly tax plan passed by the NC General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McCrory last year has created a self-imposed budget challenge. This challenge is occurring, as Pope acknowledges, even as the economy is improving. Read More

Last year state leaders passed a tax plan that will overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations. The plan does little to rid the tax code of costly tax loopholes, it makes the state’s upside-down tax system even worse, and it reduces annual revenue by more than $650 million once all the new tax changes are in place.

As Gov. McCrory and state leaders try and “find’ revenue to provide a modest pay raise to only a portion of North Carolina’s public school teachers, more tax cuts for profitable corporations look to be on the horizon.

This week BTC released a policy brief that highlights an arcane tax policy change proposed by members of the NC General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Committees. This tax change – referred to as a single sales factor (SSF) apportionment formula – would only consider the sales component in determining the amount of state income taxes paid by corporations. The state’s current tax system uses a formula that considers a corporation’s property, payroll, and sales in North Carolina.

This tax change would provide a tax cut to only certain corporations, with no guarantee of job creation or a boost in economic growth for the state and would reduce revenue available for public investments by $90 million for FY 2015. This revenue loss would be in addition to the massive annual revenue loss under the tax plan passed last year. Read More

At the heart of the American Dream is the idea that hard work is supposed to pay off—that anyone who works a full time job should be able to make ends and achieve upward mobility over the course of their lives. As discussed in the most recent issue of Prosperity Watch, however, seismic shifts in the global economy away from manufacturing and towards services have pushed this dream further and further away from too many of North Carolina’s workers. See the latest Prosperity Watch for details.

Yesterday, President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal that includes several important improvements to the pro-work Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). When taken together, these improvements will reduce poverty among low-wage workers and their families, reduce income inequality, strengthen work incentives, and give a boost to North Carolina’s economy—all without adding a dime to the deficit.

Under the President’s proposal, approximately 381,000 low-wage workers without children in North Carolina would get a much-needed income boost. Currently, a childless adult working full time at the minimum wage pays significant federal income and payroll taxes, but receives an EITC of less than $30. In fact, childless workers are the sole group of workers that the federal tax system actually pushes below the poverty line, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Fortunately, the President’s proposal would reverse course and boost tax fairness by expanding the now-tiny EITC for childless workers, an idea that has growing support across the political spectrum. The proposal would also make workers between the ages of 21 and 25 eligible who are currently excluded from qualifying for the EITC. Read More