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Falling Behind in NC, NC Budget and Tax Center

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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NC Budget and Tax Center

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

Uncategorized

While the General Assembly is currently focused on smoothing the road to drill for natural gas in North Carolina, a new report shows the economic value clean energy has brought to our state over the past five years.

The report was prepared by Research Triangle Institute and LaCapra Associates.

Some of the key findings:

Clean energy programs created or retained over 21,000 jobs.

The clean energy industry and government incentives spurred $1.4 billion in project investments.

These projects contributed about $1.7 billion to the gross state product.

Clean energy and energy efficiency projects saved 8.2 million megawatt hours of energy.

For every $1 spent on renewable projects, $1.90 was generated for that investment. For energy efficiency projects, $1.67 was generated for that investment.

Finally, rate payers benefit from renewables and energy efficiency programs.  A typical NC residential customer saved $.50 per month last year and that is expected to only rise if our state continues to lead in this industry.

Earlier this year the Washington Post reported that the conservative Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were considering a strategy to repeal North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES).  Our state has the only RES legislation in the south. This legislation requires utilities to  hold a portion of their energy portfolio in renewables.   This legislation and incentive programs are the reason for the healthiness of the renewable energy industry.  As the governor and legislature focus on job creation and economic development, this part of the energy sector now has a strong and proven track record and should be encouraged to grow.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

After last night’s votes to slash unemployment benefits and deny Medicaid to people in need (and the follow-up votes that will take place today), you might have thought there would have already been enough wackiness for one week on Jones Street.

WRONG!

Actually, the fun is just beginning! Check out the following from the good people at the Sierra Club to see what’s on tap for tomorrow:

“John Droz, former real estate agent, fellow of the right-wing American Traditions Institute, and science advisor to NC-20 (the coastal group which backed notorious Sea Level Rise bill last year) will be addressing invited members of both chambers this Wednesday at 11:00 am in the auditorium at the General Assembly.   Read More

Uncategorized

As expected, Republican members of the North Carolina House Finance Committee quickly approved a massive overhaul of state unemployment insurance law this morning. In just over an hour and half, the Committee explained, debated, considered amendments to and received limited public comment on a 68-page measure that imposes the most draconian cuts to unemployment insurance that experts believe has ever happened in the United States. Gluttons for punishment can watch a video the whole embarrassing show at WRAL.com.

There were so many errors, untruths and offensive moments during  the meeting that it’s hard to know where to begin in describing it. Here are just a few: Read More