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Moral March on RaleighYes, the end of the work week is here for many of us, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more important work to do.

#1 on the list, of course, is tomorrow’s Moral March on Raleigh. As has been reported in numerous places, a record crowd is expected so tune up your voice, come early (9:00 am if you can), wear warm rain gear and bring your mobile devices so you can share messages and images with the wider world at the #MoralMarch,#MoralMonday and #HKonJ hashtags.

And speaking of important work that needs to get done ASAP, the New York Times is once again reporting to the nation about a huge screw-up in North Carolina. This time it’s the coal ash disaster in Eden. Click here to see an informative slideshow on the spill at the N.C. Conservation Network Facebook page.

And speaking of slideshows, Think Progress has another interesting one entitled “7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked to Learn About Ronald Reagan.” For example, #4: “Reagan grew the federal government big time.”  To quote: Read More

An oversight committee at the General Assembly splashed more cold water on claims that policy decisions made in the 2013 legislative session are responsible for big improvements in the state’s economy.

In testimony before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance Wednesday, N.C. State economist Dr. Michael Walden made the crucial point that North Carolina’s economic recovery began in 2009—long before 2013—and is largely shaped by broader national and global economic trends beyond the influence of the state’s policy makers.

According to Walden, North Carolina’s experience of business cycles has often been bumpier than the nation’s—with faster growth in recoveries and steeper falls during recessions. Over the past two business cycles, the Tarheel State saw bigger percentage job losses than did the nation as a whole during recessionary periods. As a result, the state’s employment growth since the recession ended in 2009 is still insufficient to deliver the jobs needed to provide everyone a job who is seeking work and close the state’s jobs deficit—despite seeing employment grow at a faster rate than the average.

Taken together with the fact that North Carolina created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did the year before, according to preliminary estimates from the establishment survey, these trends make it clear that the current economic recovery is neither all that special, nor can employment growth be linked to policies enacted last year.

And while the state’s labor market is clearly moving in the right direction, recent improvements are still not enough to return employment to pre-recession levels. In fact, at the current rate of job creation holding all else constant, it will take 13 years to replace the jobs lost during the Great Recession and keep up with population growth.

Given this reality, it’s clear that policy makers are just plain wrong when they claim that the policies they enacted in 2013 are responsible for an economic turnaround in North Carolina.

Dean BakerIf you don’t follow economist Dean Baker on Twitter or the blogosphere, you should. This week, Baker has, among other things, dissected the bombs being lobbed at the Affordable Care Act because of the finding that it might lead to lowering of employment numbers.

As Baker notes here:

“Apparently a lot of media folks have made such a habit of repeating Republican talking points that they can’t see what is right in front of their eyes. The Republicans are touting the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to reduce the number of people working.

Guess what? This was one of the motivations for the ACA. It is a feature, not a bug. Read More

At a time when we should be boosting investments to ensure that the Tar Heel state can compete for good-paying jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, our legislative leaders have taken a different path. Our prized public 4-year university system serves as an example.

Since 2008, state funding on a per student basis within the UNC System has been cut by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. Managing these funding cuts have meant reducing course offerings, which can prolong the time it takes students to graduate; reducing academic- and student-support services; and steady tuition hikes. For the 2014 academic year, the average tuition and fees cost with the university system is around $6,100, up from around $4,400 in 2008 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.

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Governor McCrory’s Economic Development Board released it’s long-awaited strategic plan for the state’s economic development efforts this afternoon. Here is the Budget and Tax Center statement in response:

We all want to create jobs and grow an economy that works for everyone in North Carolina, and the best way to make sure that happens is to focus on raising family incomes after a decade of decline. While the Governor’s plan includes a number of useful proposals, there is an important contradiction between the plan’s call for additional tax cuts and the resources necessary to achieve the goals related to workforce development, innovation/entrepreneurship, and rural prosperity. These goals will be impossible unless the state provides adequate investment in higher education, community colleges, and rural community development initiatives. Funding for these initiatives are already well below where they were before the recession started in 2008, so it’s unlikely the state will be able to make significant progress on achieving these goals given the steep revenue losses resulting from last year’s tax cuts and any future round of tax reductions.