• Budget, Taxation, and the Economy

    • Capital and Infrastructure

      Updated as of January 2020. State facilities became a surprisingly contentious part of budget discussions in 2019. In 2017, state government owned nearly 118 million square feet of space across 12,000 buildings worth $25.6 billion. The state budget includes… Read More
    • Economic Growth

      Updated as of January 2020. Beginning with the passage of tax and regulatory reform in 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly deliberately began to pursue policies meant to enhance overall economic growth, that is, to expand economic well-being typically measured… Read More
    • Economic Impact Studies

      Updated as of January 2020. Whether it’s to advocate for Medicaid expansion, promote special tax breaks for solar energy, or justify subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study that touts the benefits of… Read More
    • Federal Aid Dependency

      Updated as of January 2020. Federal funds are tempting, but they create risks for states that accept them. North Carolina is no exception. First, they leave the state and those who rely on federally funded programs vulnerable to a federal government… Read More
    • Film Grants

      Updated as of January 2020. “Bull Durham,” “Last of the Mohicans,” “Dirty Dancing,” and most other beloved ‘North Carolina films’ were produced without film production grants or incentives. They were made years before state officials ever thought the industry… Read More
    • Minimum Wage

      Updated as of January 2020. North Carolina’s minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Except in the case of tipped workers, employers in this state cannot pay workers below that level. In… Read More
    • State Budgeting

      State government needs revenue to pay for the goods and services it provides, and the state raises that revenue by imposing personal income, sales, and other taxes on its residents. Approximately 88 percent of state budget revenue comes from personal… Read More
    • State Employee Benefits

      Updated as of January 2020. State government is the largest employer in North Carolina, with more than 300,000 full-time-equivalent positions. State employees have been working for the state an average of 11 years. Attracting and keeping employees is a constant… Read More
    • State Spending and Taxes

      North Carolina has one of the strictest balanced-budget requirements in the country. State law holds the governor responsible for cutting expenditures to avoid a deficit. Republican leadership in the General Assembly since 2011 has helped by keeping inflation-adjusted General… Read More
    • State Spending Restraint

      North Carolina has one of the strictest balanced-budget requirements in the country. It requires not just balance on paper, but that the governor “shall effect the necessary economies in State expenditures” to avoid “a deficit for any fiscal period.”… Read More
    • Tax Reform

      Updated as of January 2020. For many years, economists and tax policy researchers maintained that North Carolina’s tax system needed a major overhaul. The system was a model of hodgepodge tax policy with high marginal rates on personal and corporate… Read More
    • Transportation Funding

      North Carolina has 80,000 miles of state highways, more than any other state besides Texas. Unlike Texas, where state roads are one-fourth of the total 313,000 miles of roads in the state, North Carolina owns three-fourths of its 106,000… Read More
  • Education

    • Apprenticeships

      Updated as of January 2020. For decades, economists have considered the costs and benefits of adopting variations of highly developed apprenticeship systems operating in Germany and Switzerland. Such efforts are based on the belief that apprenticeships are almost always a… Read More
    • Charter Schools

      Updated as of January 2020. Few educational institutions are as misunderstood as public charter schools. They are not private or religious schools. They are not for-profit enterprises. They cannot pick and choose students. In short, they may not take taxpayer… Read More
    • Child Care

      Updated as of January 2020. The state began offering subsidies for child care services in 1964, making the Subsidized Child Care Program one of North Carolina’s longest-running welfare programs. The program provides vouchers to eligible families for child care services… Read More
    • Childhood Health and Nutrition

      Updated as of January 2020. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, the debate over the National School Lunch Program and the sale of junk food in and around public schools has intensified. Public health advocates contend that schools can… Read More
    • Class Size

      Updated as of January 2020. Support for reducing class size usually cuts across political and ideological divides, garnering accolades from legislators, policymakers, and parents alike. But does it work? The relationship between class size and student achievement has been the… Read More
    • Common Core State Standards

      Updated as of January 2020. Common Core State Standards are mathematics and English language arts standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. They were developed by three Washington, D.C.-based organizations — the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief… Read More
    • Education and the Workforce

      Updated as of January 2020. Do North Carolinians need four-year degrees to be successful? According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, those who decide to enter the workforce without a four-year degree may have more employment opportunities… Read More
    • Education Facilities

      The popular perception is that state government is responsible for overseeing the funding, maintenance, and construction of school district facilities. Nevertheless, state law clearly states that “it shall be the duty of the local boards of education to make… Read More
    • Federal Education Policy

      Updated as of January 2020. Before passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965, the United States Congress generally adhered to the principle that the federal government had no authority to undertake functions and duties not enumerated… Read More
    • Higher Education Funding

      Article IX, Section 9 of the North Carolina Constitution states, “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people… Read More
    • North Carolina Education Lottery

      Updated as of January 2020. With noisy advertisements, press releases, and nightly televised drawings, the North Carolina Education Lottery is a very visible contributor to education funding in the state. Despite the noise, there are very real concerns over the… Read More
    • Prekindergarten Education

      Updated as of January 2020. Taxpayer-funded prekindergarten education in the United States is a multibillion-dollar hodgepodge of state and federal programs. The North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, a division within the Department of Health and Human… Read More
    • Public School Finance

      Updated as of January 2020. Discussions of funding levels are necessary, but not sufficient, for truly understanding the health of our public schools. Researchers generally agree that how the money is spent is far more important than how much money… Read More
    • School Choice

      Updated as of January 2020. In North Carolina, public education is a core fiscal responsibility of state and local government. In the words of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the state constitution recognizes the right to a “sound, basic education”… Read More
    • Standards and Curricula

      Updated as of January 2020. Curricula are not standards. Standards are not curricula. In the debate over the Common Core State Standards, definitions of key terms such as “standards” and “curricula” vary considerably. For some, standards and curricula are the… Read More
    • Teaching Profession

      Updated as of January 2020. No system of public education can thrive without a high-quality teacher workforce. The problem is that state education bureaucracies enforce rules and regulations that fail to distinguish excellent teachers from poor ones. Indeed, a large… Read More
    • Testing and Accountability

      Updated as of January 2020. School accountability comes in two forms. Either parents keep schools accountable by “voting with their feet,” or states compel public school districts to administer standardized tests. As educational options increase, the value and necessity of… Read More
    • Virtual Schools

      Updated as of January 2020. A virtual school is an internet-based learning environment that allows students to participate in a class using a computer rather than being present in a classroom. Students can access all class materials, including lectures, notes,… Read More
  • Government Regulation

    • Alcohol Policy

      North Carolina was once the nation’s leader in wine production and distilleries, legal industries killed off by state prohibition in 1908. In 1937, in response to the end of federal Prohibition, North Carolina policymakers chose separate paths for sales… Read More
    • Asset Forfeiture

      Updated as of January 2020. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that authorizes the confiscation of property suspected of having been used for, or derived from, criminal activity. Because the action is against the property itself, there is… Read More
    • Bike Lanes

      Cities across the state have allocated millions of taxpayer dollars for bike lanes and bike share programs. Despite all the money being spent, bicycling remains an infrequent form of commuting. Good statistics about biking are scarce, but one of… Read More
    • Connectivity and Broadband

      Updated as of January 2020. One aspect of the economy that garners much attention in the urban/rural divide is internet service. More populous metropolitan areas have a greater range of private services offering broadband, just as they have more options… Read More
    • Convention and Event Centers

      Updated as of January 2020. The idea of a new convention center appeals to city and county leaders’ civic pride and aspirations. They expect the new center to be a huge boost to the local economy, bringing in lots of… Read More
    • Criminal Law Reform

      North Carolina’s criminal code is hardly a code at all. Crimes are scattered across more than 140 chapters of the General Statutes, thousands of pages of the administrative code, and more than 650 county and municipal codes of ordinances. And… Read More
    • Electricity and Energy

      Updated as of January 2020. Electricity is a basic human need. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. But electricity prices have a greater affect on the poor because they spend a larger proportion of their income on this necessity. North… Read More
    • Emerging Ideas and the Sharing Economy

      Technologies widely available on smartphones and over the internet have given rise to new marketplaces and platforms by which people can obtain and offer goods and services. Existing providers in the traditional marketplaces naturally complain about the new competition. Too… Read More
    • Eminent Domain

      Updated as of January 2020. Eminent domain refers to the government’s power to take land from property owners who are unwilling to sell it voluntarily. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Nor shall private… Read More
    • Government Accountability

      Updated as of January 2020. Government needs to be open and accountable to taxpayers. Many of the tools needed to achieve that goal also help government employees succeed in their jobs. The State Auditor and the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation… Read More
    • Occupational Licensing

      Updated as of January 2020. Everyone in North Carolina has a self-evident, inalienable right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” It’s in North Carolina’s Constitution, Article I, Section 1. Occupational licensing threatens this fundamental… Read More
    • Overcriminalization

      In The Federalist No. 62, James Madison wrote, “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read,… Read More
    • Public Transit

      Updated as of January 2020. The most obvious fact about transportation in America in the 21st century is that people overwhelmingly prefer personal automobiles. Cars offer the greatest range of mobility and fastest arrival at destinations. They also offer privacy,… Read More
    • Publicly Funded Stadiums

      Updated as of January 2020. “If you build it, they will come” may be an iconic movie line, but it makes for poor public policy. It is basically what big-league or even minor-league teams promise city, county, and state leaders… Read More
    • Red Tape and Regulatory Reform

      Updated as of January 2020. North Carolina’s regulatory environment has improved steadily in recent years. The General Assembly under Republican leadership has passed Regulatory Reform Acts regularly since 2011, preventing and even reducing some unnecessary red tape that holds back… Read More
    • Transportation Planning

      Updated as of January 2020. As the John Locke Foundation explained in a 2015 Spotlight report, transportation planning in North Carolina took a wrong turn in 1987 when the General Assembly approved a controversial piece of legislation known as… Read More
  • Health Care

    • Association Health Plans

      Updated as of January 2020. Association health plans (AHPs) are a type of group health plan in which a business or trade association offers health insurance benefits to its member employers. AHPs allow groups of small businesses or self-employed owners… Read More
    • Certificate of Need

      Certificate of Need (CON) is a regulation that limits health care supply unless state health care planners determine a specific “need.” Based on the theory that the economics of health care is unlike any other market, CON laws use… Read More
    • Dental Care Access

      Updated as of January 2020. The importance of oral health is often overlooked in the broader health care discussion. Proper oral health at a young age and into one’s elderly years is an essential factor in one’s overall health. However,… Read More
    • Direct Primary Care

      Updated as of January 2020. The excessive amount of health care regulation that deteriorates the physician-patient relationship is pushing some doctors to opt out of insurance contracts so they can spend more time with their patients. This practice model is… Read More
    • Health Benefit Mandates

      Updated as of January 2020. There are opportunities for North Carolina lawmakers to help lower the cost of health insurance. One way is to re-examine the 53 health benefit mandates state officials have passed into law since the 1970s. Read More
    • Health Insurance Exchanges

      Updated as of January 2020. One key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) is the implementation of health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces where individuals can shop for federally qualified health plans offered by participating insurance companies. Read More
    • Medicaid Expansion

      Updated as of January 2020. Medicaid is a program funded jointly by the state and federal government. Its core functions include paying medical providers for services rendered to low-income parents, children, pregnant women, the elderly, the blind, and the disabled. Read More
    • Scope-of-Practice Reform

      Updated as of January 2020. For patients living in rural North Carolina, quality health care can be hard to find. Over 1.9 million people, 19 percent of the state’s population, live in primary-care shortage areas. Unlike other states, North Carolina… Read More
    • Telemedicine Private-Payer Laws

      Updated as of January 2020. Telemedicine is a leading innovation that has proven to expedite the delivery of health care. Telemedicine is the use of technology to deliver health care, health information, or health education at a distance. It helps… Read More
  • North Carolina Info

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About John Locke Foundation

We are North Carolina’s Most Trusted and Influential Source of Common Sense. The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is named for John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders.

The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)(3) research institute and is funded solely from voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations.