Archives

NC GearA friend of NC Policy Watch points out that a new and controversial $4 million McCrory administration program to fight inefficiency in state government may itself be an example of inefficiency and redundancy.

As WRAL reported earlier this week, the head of the NC Government Efficiency And Reform initiative (NC GEAR) — a former John Locke Foundation staffer — got a fairly skeptical reception at a joint legislative committee on Monday.  Senators and representatives both voiced concern that $4 million was a lot to spend on an ill-defined initiative that has thus far produced very little of substance.

Even, however, if one sets aside the output from NC GEAR thus far (i.e. not much), it’s also worth noting that North Carolina already has a similar program in place called NC Thinks.

Thus far, the main evident function on the NC GEAR website is a virtual suggestion box for improving government efficiency. But, as a our friend points out, NC Thinks already does that!

Here is the website description for that initiative: Read More

Dallas Woodhouse2You may have trouble enduring all 50 minutes and 40 seconds, but today’s weird valedictory farewell by departing Americans for Prosperity director Dallas Woodhouse at the Locke Foundation’s “Shaftsbury Society” luncheon provides an interesting and, at times, surprisingly unfiltered window into just how closely coordinated the right-wing world of charitable 501 (c)(3)’s, (c)(4)’s and various explicitly partisan political and candidate-specific organizations really is. (Woodhouse is leaving AFP to become a campaign/political consultant).

Woodhouse addresses the matter (explicitly and implicitly) several times during the talk — most notably about a quarter of the way in when he explains that  conservative “accomplishments” of late in North Carolina are the result of “the efforts of our candidates, with the effort of our network here through the Locke Foundation, Civitas, the Pope Center for Higher Education, the Center for Constitutional Law, and Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation…” and then goes on to thank Art Pope for making it all possible.

To help complete the big, warm and fuzzy picture, the first question at the conclusion of the talk is posed by Woodhouse’s former colleague Jeff Mixon, now of the Governor’s office.

In short, those who watch this video will get a quick, powerful and sobering lesson about who it is that’s driving the policy and political agendas in North Carolina right now (and how, in their troubled worldview, they’re just getting started).

Lest you think the drumbeat of criticism about the absurd salaries being paid by HHS Secretary Aldona Wos to two young graduates of the McCrory campaign is a partisan or ideological matter, check out this recent exchange between John Hood of the Locke Foundation and conservative Raleigh radio host Bill LuMaye that took place on Monday afternoon.

After being asked his views on “salary-gate,” Hood said that both Matthew McKillip and Ricky Diaz were “very promising” “young men” whom he would consider hiring at the Locke Foundation if given the opportunity, but that he would never consider hiring them at anywhere near the salaries being paid to them by Wos:

“I would not hire them at salaries in the 80,000 range. It would be, you know, less than half that amount. And I just cannot imagine a justification for this decision — not just on the merits but also the political optics.”

He then went on to question the administration’s ongoing attempts to defend the salaries:  Read More

You know North Carolina has jumped off the cliff into the abyss when even two conservative figures with close ties to the John Locke Foundation are deriding the latest budget and tax policy choices made by state leaders.

Here, for instance, is longtime Locke Foundation Board member Assad Meymandi in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Some 60 years ago, the founding fathers of the new North Carolina – transforming an agrarian society into an educational, technical and industrial state – folks like the late Bill Friday, Archie Davis, Gov. Luther Hodges and others saw the future salvation of our beloved state by heavily investing in education.

Their efforts have produced, among other things, a very strong UNC system of 16 campuses, parallel with the creation of the incomparable network of community colleges. They also advocated a strong N.C. Symphony, N.C. Museum of Art and other cultural and artistic institutions to attract educated and culturally inclined people to the state. Investing in education has paid off. N.C. economy has thrived because of its excellent public universities. UNC-Chapel Hill alone brings in annually around $900 million in research money and grants. It is truly frightening to see what the legislature is doing to the budgets of UNC system, N.C. community college system and UNC-TV. Read More

In public policy debates it’s common for different organizations to disagree about crunching numbers and examining trends. We often disagree about which states should serve as models for North Carolina. All of that is understandable.

Last week John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, decided to change this dynamic in a column distributed by the Insider. In that column, which is mostly about Medicaid, he accuses groups that disagree with him of lying.

Specifically, he says this claim was untrue:

 North Carolinians were told that regardless of whether the state set up its own Obamacare exchange or allowed the federal government to do so, state government would have to fund the exchange’s operating costs. This claim was false.

Since I was in the middle of that discussion I can report on what was actually said in both public and private debates.

When the legislature this year pushed a bill to reject Medicaid expansion they included in the legislation a provision that essentially turned over all responsibility for establishing a health benefits exchange in North Carolina to the federal government. A health exchange, as a reminder, is the online marketplace where people can shop for insurance. Some people, depending on income, will qualify for subsidized coverage when purchasing a policy through the exchange.

Some legislators and conservative activists argued that it would be fiscally irresponsible for North Carolina to set up a state exchange. What we pointed out, along with a few others, is that whether we establish a state, federal, or partnership exchange, the financing doesn’t change. The federal government will pay for establishing the exchange and then it must be self-supporting.

That means North Carolinians must pay for the operations of the North Carolina exchange.

As we also pointed out, if the federal government operates our exchange then it will be financed by an insurer user fee, in effect a premium tax, on North Carolina insurance companies and insurance purchasers. If the state set up its own exchange we could both control its size and pull from more diverse funding streams. We may not want to load the entire cost of the exchange on to premiums.

It is clear what Hood is trying to accomplish in his column. He wants to say that groups like us lied to legislators and the public about funding the exchange. We, therefore, can’t be trusted when it comes to Medicaid. That is irresponsible and it is misleading. And the Insider should be more cautious in distributing such attacks.