Carolina Journal Weekly Report

February 20, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of February 20, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — The average North Carolinian surrendered more than 5 percent of his personal income to fund city and county government in the 2007 budget year, according to a new report from the Center for Local Innovation. The local tax and fee burden now tops more than $2,000 a year in seven of North Carolina’s largest cities.

“The typical resident of the median county in North Carolina paid $1,275 in taxes and fees to county and municipal governments,” said report author Michael Lowrey, a John Locke Foundation policy analyst. “That amounted to a 1.27 percent increase over the 2006 budget year and represents a nearly 5 percent increase from 2005.”

That average resident in the median county forked over 4.71 percent of personal income to local government, but Lowrey says the average North Carolinian actually fares worse. “The average North Carolinian actually pays a higher percentage, since many of the state’s larger counties have above-average local tax and fee burdens. When this is factored in, a state average would amount to 5.08 percent of personal income.”

Among the state’s largest cities, Charlotte ($2,636 per person), Asheville, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Wilmington had the highest tax burdens. They topped the list of 31 municipalities with at least 25,000 residents. Jacksonville ($1,129 per person), Thomasville, Goldsboro, Kannapolis, and Fayetteville ranked lowest in tax-and-fee burden among the larger cities.

Three coastal communities — Kill Devil Hills, Carolina Beach, and Oak Island — had the highest local per-person tax burdens among the 89 ranked N.C. communities with populations between 5,000 and 24,999 people. The report ranks each of these communities, along with nearly 200 municipalities with populations between 1,000 and 4,999 people.

News Features

CJ: Nonprofits vie for stabilization funds
RALEIGH — Local governments and nonprofits in North Carolina are vying for millions in federal dollars meant to bail out counties suffering from the housing crisis, but critics fear the funds could benefit private lenders and liberal advocacy groups more than struggling homeowners.

CJ: Appeals court rules in truck law dispute
RALEIGH — In 2005, the General Assembly rewrote laws covering special permits that allow trucks to operate at weights above the general 80,000-pound limit. In doing so, the legislature’s wording apparently was less than precise, for the state’s second highest court on Feb. 3 held that a $24,500 fine against a trucking company was not legal because the law was ambiguous.

Perdue: Stimulus may be $150 million short
RALEIGH — Gov. Beverly Perdue said Tuesday she may have about $150 million less at her disposal from the federal stimulus package to close a $2 billion state budget shortfall this year. Perdue identified the tentative amount as she announced former Health and Human Services Secretary Dempsey Benton would oversee how North Carolina’s $6.1 billion share of the stimulus gets distributed.

NC pension fund needs extra $359 million
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s state employee pension fund needs an additional $359 million from the Legislature during the next two years to keep it financially sound, State Treasurer Janet Cowell said Thursday. The news from Cowell, who became treasurer just last month, further burdens lawmakers drawing up a state government spending plan for the next two years by quantifying the retirement system’s needs.

Judge tosses out NC’s ban on video poker
RALEIGH — North Carolina can’t legally ban video poker machines while also allowing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to operate the games on their lands within the state, a state court judge ruled late Thursday. The ruling issued by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning overturns the 2006 law that ended the state’s 13-year experiment with video poker machines, a popular attraction when legal in bars and convenience stores.

Upcoming Events

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. General Reception-Cash Bar
7:15 p.m. Dinner

19th Anniversary Celebration in the Charlotte Area
with our special guest Winston Churchill III
Winston Churchill: Leadership in Times of Crisis

C-SPAN To Cover The Event

Monday, February 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with our special guest Dr. David Hartgen
North Carolina Transportation Issues

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Triangle Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest John Hood
How To Get Involved With Your Local Freedom Club

Thursday, March 05, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Triad Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest John Hood
How To Get Involved With Your Local Freedom Club

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

Capital Quotes

Everybody’s talking about what we’re going to get but nobody is talking about what we might be losing.
— Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer on federal tax cuts included in the stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama. Should North Carolina adopt parallel tax cuts, it would cut state tax revenues by an estimated $760 million over the next two years.

Money incentives in smoking work.
— North Carolina State Health Plan administrator Jack Walker, as quoted by the Associated Press, on a proposal to modify the cash-strapped state employees health plan by offering more generous benefits to those than don’t smoke or aren’t highly overweight.

We were recruiting the Michael Jordan of the Washington Wizards instead of Michael Jordan [of] the Chicago Bulls.
Brett Lane, dirctor of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business Schools’ Center for Competitive Economies, describing to the Associated Press the sorts of companies state economic development officials been recruiting in recent years. The Center for Competitive Economies’ analysis shows that the state business recruiters have focused on attracting mature business at the height of their employment rather than rapidly expanding smaller firms.

We are seeing things happen that no one else has contemplated before.
Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, as quoted by the Associated Press, describing how recent changes at Wachovia and Back of America have impacted Charlotte.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Terry Stoops explains why N.C. teachers’ total compensation is higher than the national average; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal discusses American culture’s relationship to political and economic success; Scott Mooneyham of the Capitol Press Association discusses potential for state government job cuts; forced annexation critic Tony Tetterton advocates for reform; and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s Jay Schalin discusses the need for varied viewpoints in NC State’s Millenium Series.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join guest moderator Henry Hinton for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: North Carolina’s portion of the stimulus plan; tuition increases at UNC Campuses; Governor Perdue’s first big legislative challenge; and the continuing drought in the state. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; Elaine Mejia, director of the NC Budget and Tax Center; and former Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


© 2009 John Locke Foundation | 200 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27601, (919) 828-3876



Material published here may be reprinted provided the
Locke Foundation receives prior notice and appropriate credit is given.


JLF Network Websites & Blogs