Carolina Journal Weekly Report

August 05, 2005

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of August 05, 2005 -

Reaction of the Week

Market forces may be moving textile and furniture employment overseas, but according to a new report from the John Locke Foundation there’s no mistaking a major growth industry in North Carolina: state and local government.

Joe Coletti, a fiscal policy analyst for the Raleigh-based think tank, examined recent growth in government employment in a Spotlight briefing paper released this week. He analyzed employment figures for North Carolina state and local governments and found significant growth – nearly 50,000 new jobs since 2000.

“That 8.2 percent growth in state and local government is faster than the overall growth in population,” Coletti said. “Only 15 states in the country posted a faster rate of growth in government jobs than North Carolina did.”

Coletti also computed North Carolina’s ratio of government workers to population and compared it to that of other Southeastern states, finding that only South Carolina’s ratio was higher. He also contrasted it to the ratios of states with comparable populations.

“No other state with a similar population has more public employees per resident than North Carolina does – not even Massachusetts,” Coletti said.

News Features

State legislature approves budget extension
RALEIGH — State lawmakers passed the third budget extension of the year Thursday, signaling another week of closed-door talks between House and Senate leaders. Four issues are delaying an agreement, negotiators say. They are: The amount of the increase to the cigarette tax. Whether the state's two largest universities - the University of North Carolina and N.C. State - should set their own tuition rates. How much to raise salaries for state employees. Whether to establish a state lottery.

Bush presses for China trade deal
WASHINGTON — President Bush signed CAFTA into law Tuesday as his administration announced plans to seek a broad agreement with China on textile and apparel imports -- a move Rep. Robin Hayes pushed for as payback for his controversial vote last week to save CAFTA from defeat. The Commerce Department's decision to consult with the textile industry and Congress about a comprehensive deal with China is "a heck of a step in the right direction," Hayes said in a statement.

Bridge bill might have backfired
NORFOLK, Va — Language in a newly passed bill that directs the state to hire a private contractor to build a new bridge over Oregon Inlet would disqualify the project for tens of millions of dollars in federal funds. The legislation, approved by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, authorizes construction of roads that would be financed with bonds repaid with collected tolls.

Wage hike tied to business tax credits
RALEIGH — If the National Federation of Independent Business has to accept a minimum wage increase along with a tax credit for small business, it won't take the credit. A proposal to increase the minimum wage, having failed in House floor and committee votes in June, is back this week. It is now attached to a measure that offers certain small businesses a $400 tax credit for each employee for whom the companies provide health coverage.

NC doctor scraps insurance, charges less
APEX — Dr. Brian Forrest thought he'd probably take a pay cut when he opened a family practice in 2002 with plans to quit accepting health insurance, charge half what most doctors do and increase the length of patient visits. Instead, the practice is thriving on $45 office visits and Forrest, 33, earns more than he did while working in urgent-care centers. The trick? The practice, Access Healthcare, sees fewer patients and charges less but collects 100 percent of fees, which are posted in the lobby for all to see, from patients at the time of service.

No-work employee raises eyebrows
RALEIGH — A newspaper report about a state employee who said last week that she did little work over the past two years prompted renewed calls Monday for a thorough examination of state programs for waste and for an improved system of evaluating employees. Sen. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, said independent performance audits of state government would ferret out unnecessary jobs and improve efficiency.

Dogfighting law burdens animal shelters
RANDLEMAN — When the 18 fighting pit bulls arrived, the Dalmatian with fleas had to go. The black Labrador with a case of mange will probably be next. The Randolph County Animal Shelter is only so big. And the pit bulls are evidence in a dogfighting case. Animal Control Supervisor Robyn Allison has no choice but to keep them until the case is resolved. That leaves her with one option: start euthanizing adoptable animals.

Later start interferes with tax-free weekend
WINSTON-SALEM — Parents of school-age children will be crowding into stores for the next few days to buy school supplies during the tax-exempt weekend. The problem is, many parents don't know what to buy. "It's going to be awkward this year," said George Fleetwood, the assistant superintendent for instruction for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system. The General Assembly, which created the weekend, also passed a law in 2004 that required school systems to start school no earlier than Aug. 25.

Score tweaking raises test questions
RALEIGH — For the third time in four years, North Carolina has scrapped or recalculated results of its renowned school-testing system, prompting questions about the tests' reliability -- and orders from Gov. Mike Easley for an outside audit. Easley "was as frustrated as any parent might have been to see another issue with the ABCs," said J.B. Buxton, the governor's education adviser. This year's problem: the state decided too few schools made enough progress in sixth-grade reading scores.

Easley resists art museum bonds
RALEIGH — Bold plans for the N.C. Museum of Art encountered the North Carolina art of politics Thursday. The result: hope, frustration and the need for an art of another sort, the one of compromise. The House Finance Committee raised hopes for a glittering new museum by approving $50 million in bonds Thursday. Gov. Mike Easley quickly responded that he doesn't think the debt-loaded state should borrow more to finance the museum.

Upcoming Events

Monday, August 08, 2005 at 12 Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Dr. Hugh W. Stephens
"Terrorism and Port Security"

Monday, August 15, 2005 at 12 Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Bernie Reeves
"Hollywood Communists, Radical Scholars, Chinese Espionage Among Subjects for Third Raleigh Spy Conference"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 at Noon
A Headliner Luncheon
with our special guest Dr. Larry Schweikart
"A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror"

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

We have produced some gains there in the course of the day and (Monday) night, but it is difficult to plow in… It’s sort of stumpy and rooty as we go down the field.
— Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, D-Dare, using farming terminology in describing to the Senate how budget negotiations with House were progressing.

You have to be sort of realistic. If you are going to have a lottery, you have a lottery. And if you are going to raise revenues for good and noble causes, then you go out and raise the revenues.
— Rep. Bill Culpepper, D-Chowan, arguing to The News & Observer of Raleigh against the limits on advertising in the House’s version of a lottery bill. The Senate’s version has no such limits; the two houses are attempting to negotiate an agreement.

There are better places in this country to die than in North Carolina.
Carole Bruce, tax and estate planning lawyer, talking to the Business Journal serving the Greater Triad Area about the state’s inheritance tax. North Carolina is one of 18 states that still has a death tax.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
We take a special look at the educational choice movement across the nation and state with Robert Enlow from the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation and Lindalyn Kakadelis with the NC Education Alliance. Then, Mark Bridgeman with the NC Association on Gang Investigations will discuss the growing gang presence in North Carolina. And last, CJ associate editor Donna Martinez hosts another edition of Locker Room Talk, a discussion of this week's best blogs from the John Locke Foundation weblog, The Locker Room, with CJ's Chad Adams and Summer Hood.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. On the docket this week: the state highway patrol begins targeting dangerous drivers, contentious city curfews, and the personal income tax hike extension. This week's panelists include: former legislator Gene Arnold; Robin Dorff, Executive Director of Institute of Political Leadership; Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch;  John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Triangle viewers can tune in to host Monty Knight as he is joined by Carolina Journal's Donna Martinez and The Carolinian's Cash Michaels for another round of At Issue. This week, panelists discuss the New Hill water management controversy and a Chapel Hill parent takes issue with 'Pop the cap' legislation.


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