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North Carolina lawmakers are barking up the wrong tree when they claim that corporate tax cuts, such as those proposed in the state Senate, will spur job creation and economic growth. In reality, those tax cuts will do more harm than good, in both the short- and long-term.

Every dollar that Senate Bill 677 would give away in a tax cut has to be made up for with a tax increase on another business or individual or with cuts to schools, health care and other vital services that provide a strong foundation for our economy.

This tax plan would cost the state $344 million once the tax cuts were fully phased in, according to the Legislature’s Fiscal Research Division. Read More

As Chris Fitzsimon noted with some biting and on-the-money humor last week, conservative state political leaders appear to have reached the point in the 2013 legislative session at which they have ”jumped the shark.” For those who may not have caught the cultural reference, the phrase derives from a late-20th Century TV sitcom called “Happy Days”; the show was widely seen to have reached its nadir during an episode in which one of the main characters jumped over a shark while water skiing.

For conservatives, it’s hard to point out just one shark-jumping moment in their script, but as Chris notes, the bill to excuse the state from the First Amendment’s establishment clause seems like a strong contender.

Rob Christensen of Raleigh’s News & Observer wrote a rather curious column over the weekend in which he alleged that GOP leaders had basically gotten all the shark-jumping ideas under control, but judging by the agenda for the coming week Read More

The safety and quality of life of communities across the North Carolina rely in part on investments in our judicial and public safety systems. Significant funding cuts to the Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget in recent years have challenged various JPS agencies to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources. Since FY2009, net appropriations for the JPS budget have been cut by more than $218 million.

In recent years, cuts in funding to the JPS budget have also resulted in increases in court costs and fees. However, the Fiscal Research Division reports that court costs collections are down about 10 percent. The legislature closed four minimum custody programs in order to reduce costs in 2011. Furthermore, state funding has been completely cut for some divisions within JPS, which are now mandated to operate as fully-receipt funded operations. Read More

This week has been deemed Education Week by legislative leaders, who have invited superintendents, principals and teachers from across the state to Raleigh to discuss public education issues. As education leaders and teachers share their thoughts and concerns regarding public education, funding has been a key part of that conversation.

With consistent improvement in proficiency rates, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, and graduation rates over the past 20 years, North Carolina has long been recognized for its commitment to public education – both K-12 education and higher education. However, significant cuts made to K-12 and higher education in recent years threaten to erode the leadership position the state has achieved among southern states. As lawmakers work to craft and approve a biennial budget for FY 2014-15, investment in public education will be a central part of the budget debate.

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A report released by the Program Evaluation Division within the NC General Assembly highlights that North Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack, or better, among states for various taxes and spending metrics. For FY2009-10, metrics for which North Carolina ranked in the top half of states include:

  • Per capita state expenditures (12th lowest among states);
  • Per capita state and local taxes (17th lowest among states);
  • State and local taxes as a percentage of personal income (23rd lowest among states); and
  • Per capita state taxes (24th lowest among states).

These rankings disprove the claim that state spending and taxes in North Carolina are out of line. Our state ranks in the middle of the pack or on the lower end among states. Read More