JLF Research Archive
Showing items 51 to 75 of 528
For the last 30 years North Carolina has seen spending grow three times faster than population and inflation. The bottom-line spending figure for JLF’s 2013-14 General Fund budget plan is $20.1 billion, $490 million less than the governor’s proposal. In the second year of the two-year budget plan, JLF’s proposal would spend $560 million less than McCrory’s plan. This budget offers 19 specific policy recommendations in K-12 education, early childhood programs, public safety, Medicaid, transportation, and state employee benefits.
The last statewide General Obligation Bond referendum was held in 2000; all debt since then has been issued without voter approval, making special indebtedness the sole form of debt in North Carolina since 2001. Special Indebtedness is more expensive than traditional General Obligation debt, thus creating a larger burden on taxpayers. Certificates of Participation (COPs) are the most favored form of special indebtedness.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative has attracted considerable attention from the state and national media, and North Carolinians have begun to consider how these changes will affect their public schools. The purpose of this primer is to introduce North Carolinians to the Common Core State Standards by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about common standards and tests.
North Carolina has the nation’s largest state-owned highway system (80,200 miles), 72 airports, 120+ transit systems, extensive intercity rail freight and passenger service, and several ocean ports. These resources are a key element in the state’s economic vitality and are central to its economic progress. Recent legislative and gubernatorial changes provide an opportunity for charting new directions for transportation policy, planning and investment. This report summarizes an effort by the John Locke Foundation to make recommendations for improving North Carolina’s transportation system.
A recent report from RTI International and La Capra Associates claims to find net economic benefits for North Carolina's renewable energy policies, but these benefits are mismeasured and spurious. Orthodox cost-benefit analysis will not find anything like what the report's authors estimate. Many claims are difficult to directly evaluate given the opacity of the report, despite the report's length. Elsewhere, confusing terminology conceals the lack of any evidence that subsidizing green energy will reduce the cost of power in North Carolina. The primary benefits the report puts forth are an increase in spending in North Carolina. It implies that a $72 million increase directly led to an increase in total spending in North Carolina by $1.4 billion. This is absurd, even when using a Keynesian model of the economy. Since the report assumes that the programs were paid for by reducing other government spending, the best guess is that they had no impact on spending in North Carolina.
In 2007, the General Assembly passed major energy legislation, SB 3, that would deliberately raise electricity prices in North Carolina through a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill should be repealed. A bill before the General Assembly would cap and end the RPS mandate.
North Carolina's automotive insurance system delivers a good deal for insurers, but not for drivers. The overregulated system makes guarantees a profit for insurers, raises rates for good drivers, and pushes more than a fifth of NC drivers into residual markets.
North Carolina has over 22,500 permanent administrative rules, which carry the full force of law but are not passed by legislators. The General Assembly should return major legislative authority to elected, accountable representatives of the people.
There is consensus in the education research community that school choice raises student achievement for the average participating student. Vouchers tend to be more transparent and easier for parents to understand than other types of choice options, but require additional safeguards and protections for participating children, families, and schools.
A 1997 bill that exempted “payday lenders” from state usury laws was allowed to sunset in 2001, and the last storefront lenders were shut down in 2005. Getting rid of payday lending in North Carolina left consumers worse off, leading to more bounced checks, more complaints about lenders and debt collectors, and more filings for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. North Carolina policymakers should expand lending options in this state by legalizing small-scale, short-term and payday lending again.
North Carolina features over 50 occupational licensing boards, more than most other states. In practice, it protects current members of a profession from competition, while increasing costs to consumers and would-be professionals blocked from the field. Economists studying occupational licensing generally find it restricts the supply of labor and drives up the price of labor and services. Without state licensure, private providers of reviews and certification, internet sites and consumer applications, social media, and competitors and market forces would ensure quality and safety. The government would still enforce safety and quality through the court system.
The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission’s (CRC) forecast of sea level rise from climate change is far greater than the consensus estimate of the United Nations, and Atlantic hurricane activity exhibits no systematic changes in the last hundred years. It is therefore unlikely that catastrophic climate change outcomes await residents of the Outer Banks over the next hundred years.
In recent years, an increasing number of local governments across the nation and across North Carolina have adopted “Smart Growth” policies. However, North Carolina should look to the future and adopt a flexible growth agenda — Flex Growth. Flex Growth is a market-based system of principles for government land use and development policy, especially at the state and local government levels, based upon the idea that people — and not government bureaucrats and planners — know what is best for themselves.
North Carolina has an Amazon tax, which categorizes out-of-state firms as in-state, and thereby liable for sales tax, under certain conditions. However, the tax has not proved effective at increasing revenues, it does not level the playing field, and it may drive firms out of the state.
Once a popular off-Hollywood venue for filmmakers before state film tax incentives, North Carolina is now one of the leaders in a race to the bottom among other states and nations in giveaways to movie production companies. The incentives show that state leaders know that lower taxes and regulations attract industry. So why play favorites with industries? Why not just lower taxes and regulations altogether?
Cronyism is an umbrella term covering a host of government activities by which an industry or even a single firm or speculator is given favors and support that they could not attain in market competition. This report explains what opens government to cronyism, gives a brief rundown of recent examples of cronyism in North Carolina, and offers several possible reforms.
Private, charter, and home schools continue to be popular in many states, including North Carolina. This popularity, however, has not produced a significant enrollment shift from district schools to schools of choice – private, charter, or home schools. North Carolina and nine other states had a net increase in the percentage of students attending a school of choice between 2001 and 2010, but statewide market share increases were trivial. School choice reformers must continue their praiseworthy efforts to expand educational options for families. They must also recognize that the traditional public school system will remain the primary provider of schooling for most families.
The General Fund portion of North Carolina’s $51.7 billion state budget for 2013 is now $20.18 billion, which exceeds planned spending as passed in 2011. All of this year’s General Fund proposals from the House, Senate, and governor have been for more spending than planned. By taking the lower cost of each General Fund component from the House and Senate proposals — “reverse logrolling” — with a couple of exceptions, one could achieve a General Fund total of $19.85 billion. That would save $330 million from the enacted General Fund and $87 million from last year’s plan.
North Carolina is one of only two states which automatically send all 16 and 17 year-olds to the adult justice system. Adult court jurisdiction of juveniles does not deter juvenile crime and results in poor rehabilitation of juveniles. Minors in criminal justice systems have less access to education and other age-specific programming than those in the juvenile justice system, putting them at a serious disadvantage upon release. Methods to improve the juvenile justice system in North Carolina include both adjusting the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and creating a system of blended sentencing.
Based on our review of the TTA Response, we continue to have major reservations concerning the feasibility of the Wake County Transit Plan. The TTA Response does not adequately respond to our questions concerning ridership or costs. It does not deal with the inconsistencies in ridership estimated implied in the Plan versus those in the earlier documents and, in fact, introduces new ones. The ridership estimates provided in the TTA Response are several times higher than those implied in the Plan, and the costs per rider are much lower than those implied in the Plan. Further, the Response does not respond to our concerns expressed in the John Locke Foundation’s earlier Review regarding other serious issues. Therefore the TTA Response is deemed inadequate, and our fundamental concerns regarding the costs and benefits of this Plan remain unaddressed.
Total state spending per capita is at its highest level ever in the 2012 fiscal year and has more than tripled since 1970. Over the past four decades, state spending has grown much faster than personal income, and in real, per capita terms, spending on all reported categories has more than doubled since the mid-1970s. That includes education, corrections, health and human services, transportation, and debt servicing. General fund spending per capita has declined by 16 percent since 2009, but per capita spending outside of the general fund increased by 26 percent and more than compensated for the general fund’s decline. Federal aid continues to comprise an ever-larger portion of the state budget, and North Carolina’s cash-basis accounting conceals spending and is generating unfunded liabilities
Declining fish stocks are affecting N.C. fishermen and fishing communities despite the U.S. government spending $70 million a year to bail out failing federally managed fisheries under traditional management systems. Catch shares are a transformative approach to fisheries management that inject property rights into the fisheries to produce a sea change in incentives. Catch shares eliminate race to fish, encourage a more discriminating harvest, and reduce bycatch. Research finds strong links between catch shares and improved economic and biological performance of fisheries and that switching fisheries to catch share systems not only slows their decline but possibly stops (or even reverses) it.
North Carolina’s state income tax penalizes people’s income generating activities, those that lead to the production of goods and services and spur economic growth. By reducing the rewards to all income-generating activity — work, saving, and investment — the income tax discourages those activities relative to non-income generating activities — leisure and consumption. The tax that should be adopted as a replacement for the existing income tax is what is called a “flat rate consumed income tax.”
County and municipal governments provide many key services while taking in billions of dollars in revenue, but finding comparative data is hard. That's why this report provides information of how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
This Regional Brief critiques the process used by the Wake County Sustainability Task Force and its final report. The author was a member of the task force.