JLF Research Archive
Showing items 276 to 300 of 496
Charlotte’s half-cent sales tax for transit, passed in 1998, has allowed the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) to become one of the least efficient bus systems in the state. Ridership increased 52 percent, but operating costs increased 234 percent from 1997 to 2005.
Over the past seven years, Lexington’s city owned and operated golf course experienced operational losses of over $1.3 million. The city unfairly competes with 18 private courses in the area.
Gov. Mike Easley proposed a $20 billion operating budget and $20.1 billion total spending plan for fiscal year (FY) 2007-08. The operating budget is $1.3 billion more than in FY 2006-07, a 7.2 percent increase.
The Public Staff is an independent government agency whose role is to represent the interests of electricity consumers before the Utilities Commission. However, as recent examples demonstrate, the Public Staff is acting more like an environmental advocate than a consumer advocate. The Public Staff has recommended a major new tax on consumers, possibly as large as $181 million annually. The Public Staff also has expressed support for wind power plants even though it would mean higher costs and an unreliable means of electricity for consumers. The agency needs major reforms so consumer interests are truly protected, including term limits on the executive director of the Public Staff.
Budgets reflect priorities. When families face a new expense, they must cut back on another expense. Governments do not have this limitation. When legislators find they have spent too much or that there are new activities worth funding, they can raise taxes to make sure the budget balances and pass along the tough decisions to businesses, entrepreneurs, and families.
North Carolina’s public schools students are falling behind, and the State Board of Education is to blame. As Governor Easley prepares to fill two vacancies on the board, it is time to appoint members who can bring fresh approaches and new ideas, not more groupthink, to the body that controls our beleaguered public school system.
Unfortunately for North Carolina’s students, most of the adult debate over schools has focused on where to find the money to build the schools to accommodate its rapidly growing student population. Last year several NC counties passed bonded indebtedness of nearly $1.5 billion and presently counties and the state are discussing more bonds totaling an additional $3.6 billion.
Any recommendations made by North Carolina’s Global Climate Commission this spring will lack much of the underlying analysis required by the Commission’s enabling legislation. Senate Bill 1134, which established the Commission in 2005, was explicit. It stated that the Commission “shall conduct an in depth examination” of a list of important scientific and economic issues. After over a year of meetings the Commission has ignored what any reasonable observer would conclude are the most important questions.
The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has helped single mothers escape poverty, but it has penalized married parents and is plagued by misunderstanding and fraud. A state EITC at five percent of the federal level would cost $66 million with the same problems but less impact. State tax credits should address problems in the federal tax code, such as the penalty against middle class parents who do not qualify for means-tested programs or against individuals who do not purchase health insurance through their employer. The state child tax credit addresses the former and a health insurance purchase tax credit would address the latter problem.
Adjusted for cost of living, pension contribution, and teacher experience, the state’s average teacher salary is $993 higher than the U.S. adjusted median salary and $2,733 higher than the U.S. adjusted average salary. There is little evidence that a higher average salary or better benefits will, in any significant way, improve recruitment and increase retention of teachers. A system of merit-based pay would provide an incentive for highly qualified individuals to enter and stay in the teaching profession.
County and municipal governments provide many key services while taking in billions in revenue. Their roles grow ever greater as state government shifts more taxing power to localities to make up for money kept by the state. Still, finding comparative data is hard. That's why this report provides information of how much local government costs in every city and county in NC.
Wrong Way for a Greenway: Asheboro would place nearly 30 miles of a greenway through citizens’ backyards
The Johnston County Growth Management Committee (GMC) believes that rapid growth has outstripped the county’s ability to keep up with essential public services. To solve this problem, the GMC is recommending "smart growth" policies. The GMC is urging the County Commission to limit home building in rural areas to one home to an average of two acres. This is a 203 percent increase in the average lot size.
Over the past six years, Thomasville’s city owned and operated golf course experienced operational losses of over $3.6 million. With its course, the city engages in unfair competition with 18 private courses in the area. Private golf courses pay taxes that support government services; the city golf course does not. Unlike police and fire protection, golf is not an essential city service. If the course were sold, city taxpayers would gain the amount of the sale and avoid paying its average annual losses of over $600,000 per year. Also, a privately owned golf course would contribute to the tax base of the city and county.
The state of North Carolina levies differing forms of price regulations on a range of what would otherwise be free-market activities. These include controls on wages, gasoline, interest rates, and an unspecified number of prices during disasters and states of emergency. The purpose of this paper is to explain why a free and flexible price system is so important to both social order and the efficient allocation of goods, services, and resources in a free society. Particular emphasis will be placed on North Carolina’s laws meant to regulate prices and the negative effect that these regulations have on both markets and the well-being of the citizens of the state.
There is a consensus on global warming, but it is not the consensus that environmental groups and many in the media suggest. There is no consensus on the extent of future climate change or the extent to which current climate change is human induced or a result of natural variation. The true consensus — where there seems to be no disagreement whatsoever among scientists — is on the proposition that there is no public policy currently being considered to restrict carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by any level of government, including the State of North Carolina, that would have a measurable impact on the climate, either in the short or the long run (a century or longer). That proposition so far remains undisputed. (Revised February 20, 2007.)
Legislative leaders may be planning a nearly billion-dollar tax hike. The state would take one cent of the sales tax from counties and offer them the option to increase the local sales tax by one cent. To make the trade palatable, legislators would stop charging counties for 15 percent of Medicaid, offer an earned income tax credit for low-income workers, and cut the corporate income tax rate. Counties would also have more responsibility and flexibility in funding school and road construction. Legislators should look for savings in the state budget to pay for schools, roads, and Medicaid before passing the cost to taxpayers.
Over the past five years, Mooresville’s city owned and operated golf course experienced operational losses of nearly $450,000. With its course, the city engages in unfair competition with six private courses in the county and 12 more courses in the surrounding area. Private golf courses pay taxes that support government services; the city does not. Unlike police and fire protection, golf is not an essential city service. If the course were sold, city taxpayers would gain the amount of the sale and avoid paying its average annual losses of $90,000 per year. Also, a privately owned golf course would contribute to the tax base of the city and county.
The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission is considering charging an extra fee, separate from existing rates, to electric utility customers. This extra charge will help support what is called a “public benefits fund.” The fund would support programs that have nothing to do with the supply of electricity. Consumers would be required to pay the “fee” if they want to receive electricity, and the more electricity they use, the higher their fee will become. To environmental extremists and other proponents of this extra fee, the use of electricity, which allows us to warm our homes and function in modern society, is a “sin” and needs to be reduced.
As the Triangle grows, motorists face significant increases in traffic congestion. City and county planners are hired, in part, to suggest plans that will alleviate this congestion. Unfortunately, they are doing the opposite. Based on city staff recommendations, city councils in Raleigh and neighboring cities have fallen victim to the latest planning fad: traffic calming. This seemingly worthwhile goal has significant detrimental consequences, including increased traffic congestion, more deaths due to slower emergency vehicle response times, and unnecessary costs to taxpayers.
North Carolina utility consumers may face higher rates for no justifiable reason if extreme mercury regulations are adopted. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is regulating, for the first time ever, mercury emissions from power plants. The purpose is to minimize potentially harmful mercury levels in fish consumed by humans. However, there has never been any documented case in the United States of mercury poisoning from fish. Data linking fish consumption to any type of adverse effect in humans is very weak. In addition, the EPA acknowledges that it does not know the impact mercury emissions from power plants have on the mercury levels in fish. Despite the lack of benefits and the additional costs, North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is considering whether to adopt regulations which exceed the new and stringent federal standards.
Beginning in 1996, the state implemented a comprehensive program of education testing called the ABCs of Public Education. It did not take long for state leaders to declare North Carolina a national leader in implementing state-level accountability measures. In 1999, then Governor James Hunt declared that, “we’re holding our schools accountable for results. Education Week Magazine says no state is doing more than North Carolina to put in place real and meaningful accountability measures.”
The most critical challenge facing Wake County Public Schools is to find the most responsive, cost-efficient, and timely way to provide seats for a growing student population. In this regard, the school system’s proposed $1.056 billion school facilities spending plan falls short.
Health insurance should act like insurance, not a payment plan for regular medical needs. It should also be available for individuals to purchase in a deregulated market. A high-risk pool for health insurance, as in other insurance markets, would keep premiums affordable for the small percentage of those with significant care needs without raising costs for the entire market. The state of North Carolina should finance any high-risk pool entirely through the General Fund and existing taxes, rather than assessments on insurers or other hidden taxes. Money for a high-risk pool can come from Medicaid savings.
Over the past five years, Sanford’s city owned and operated golf course experienced operational losses of more than $1 million. With its course, the city engages in unfair competition with five private courses in the immediate area and 45 courses within a 30-mile radius of Sanford. Private golf courses contribute to the local government by paying city and county taxes. Unlike police and fire protection, golf is not an essential city service. If the course were sold, city taxpayers would gain the amount of the sale and avoid paying its average annual losses of $200,000 per year. Also, a privately operated golf course would contribute to the tax base of the city and county.