JLF Research Archive
Showing items 101 to 125 of 523
In 2010, North Carolina recorded the second-lowest number of high-ozone days of the last decade. Statewide, a total of 106 high ozone monitor readings were recorded over 26 days from April 1 to October 31, with 32 of those readings occurring on just eight monitors in two metropolitan areas. Despite what might be the popular belief, smog levels in North Carolina have been getting better, not worse.
This report highlights eleven action items that North Carolina’s new General Assembly should seek to implement in the first 100 days of the 2011 legislative session. These items touch upon a cross section of public policy areas, including education, economic development, property rights, energy and the environment, health care, the budget, and transparency. We at the John Locke Foundation believe that these items represent straightforward actions that would greatly enhance the liberty and prosperity of North Carolina’s citizens.
Over the past decade the “demand side management” (DSM) model of public policy has crept into the state of North Carolina’s approach to regulation. Advocates of DSM are clear in making explicit their goals of social engineering and the rearrangement of lifestyles. The language in their guiding documents are replete with references to “behavior modification” and “restraining and restricting” certain activities or lifestyle choices. DSM is inconsistent with a free society, where the role of government is to respond to constituent demands, not manage and control them.
North Carolina’s regulatory environment is poor, especially in comparison with other states’. Gov. Beverly Perdue signed a new executive order to modify the rulemaking process and help reduce the costs of regulation, which is a good start, but much will depend on how it is implemented in practice. For true regulatory reform, the legislature needs to build upon the executive order and apply reforms to all agencies.
Montgomery county commissioners have raised the property tax by nine cents over the last two years, from 58 cents to 67 cents per $100 valuation — a 15.5 percent increase. Now the commissioners want $225,000 tax increase (an amount about the same as another one-cent increase in the property tax). If voters approve this tax increase, the total tax increase over the last three years would be $2.1 million.
Alleghany County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $160,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. That amount would be equal to a property tax increase of 0.9 cents per hundred dollars of value. County operating budget appropriations for fiscal year 2011 are $570,274 higher than in fiscal year 2009 – an amount 3.5 times as much as what the tax would generate.
Clay County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $200,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. That amount would be equal to a property tax increase of 1.4 cents per hundred dollars of value.
Outgoing Cherokee County commissioners are asking voters to approve a $600,000 tax increase, an amount equivalent to a property tax increase of 1.5 cents per hundred dollars of value. County voters already rejected all three county commissioners who proposed the tax hike, but those lame-duck commissioners have since committed nearly $10 million to expand and renovate the courthouse.
Columbus County commissioners are overselling the value of a proposed tax increase to voters by at least $300,000. County commissioners have repeatedly said the new quarter-cent sales tax increase would raise $1.0 million, but recent county estimates suggest the tax would bring in about $700,000. That would be equivalent to a 2.2-cent property tax rate increase.
Harnett County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $1.2 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.8 cents per hundred dollars of value. This is the third time county officials have sought a higher sales tax and the fourth vote on higher taxes since 2007. Voters soundly rejected each of the earlier attempts.
Alamance County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $2.4 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.9 cents per hundred dollars of value. The three commissioners who supported the tax hike rejected a public hearing on the referendum.
Person County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $675,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. This amount is equal to a property tax increase of 1.8 cents per hundred dollars of value. The commissioners voted 3-to-2 to put the tax increase to a vote of the people, but three commissioners expressed concerns that this tax increase would harm Person County small businesses during this weak economy.
Bladen county commissioners are asking voters to approve a $375,000 tax increase. Commissioners are asking for a tax increase while ignoring the county manager’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget that fulfills the commissioners’ “No Tax Increase” pledge. Bladen County schools have adequate funding from federal, state, and lottery sources; in fact, federal funds alone bring in three times the amount received from the tax increase.
Guilford county commissioners are asking for an $11.6 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. In 2008, they twice asked voters to pass a tax increase, but by large majorities, the voters turned them down. To illustrate the commissioner’s inability to manage spending and the debt, the county will exceed its debt guideline every year from 2012 to 2016.
Orange County commissioners are asking voters for a $2.3 million tax increase at a time of high unemployment. Since the special county taxing authority was established by the legislature in 2007, voters have turned down 68 of 85 requests for tax increases, sending the message that county commissioners must be more responsible stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
There has been significant public attention and concern regarding a proposal by the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association that would allow sheriffs to have access to patients' prescription information for painkillers and controlled substances. The bigger issue is that the state already collects this information and law enforcement, specifically the State Bureau of Investigation, already has access to it. North Carolina should eliminate the database. The incredible intrusion into the lives of citizens greatly outweighs its limited, if any, benefit.
North Carolina highway users are subsidizing other programs at the rate of slightly more than a penny per passenger mile. The total cost of driving in North Carolina is no more than 22 cents per passenger mile. By comparison, the state average cost of public transit is $1.15 per passenger mile, nearly $1 of which is subsidized by non-transit users. Driving is more energy efficient and produces less carbon emissions than almost any transit system in North Carolina.
Business incentives are like lottery tickets, providing big rewards for governments if you don’t count the costs. Iredell County modeled the financial costs and benefits of an incentive offered in 2009 and showed a positive net present value for the incentives, but neglected to factor in the opportunity cost of forgoing the next best use for the funds and the likelihood the investment would have happened without an incentive.
A study by the North Carolina Waste Awareness Network (NC WARN), an anti–nuclear power advocacy group, argues that solar power today is less expensive than nuclear power. Media have embraced this study despite its absurd conclusion and its arbitrary use of subsidies in calculating the costs of competing energy sources.
North Carolina policymakers should eliminate provider licensing, certificate-of-need laws, and mandated health insurance benefits. Short of this, the state can accept alternative forms of credentialing and ensure consumers have the right to purchase optional benefits at additional cost. These regulations limit access to health care providers and health insurance by artificially constraining markets.
Watauga County commissioners want voters to approve a $1.9 million sales tax increase to build new recreational facilities. If past is prologue, this new money will not be spent wisely. Watauga County commissioners recently approved the most expensive high school ever built in the state, and they did so without a vote of taxpayers.
North Carolina has the infrastructure to expand online course offerings significantly. Districts that enroll few students in online courses generally have a higher per-pupil expenditure than those that enroll a higher number of virtual school students.This report offers several recommendations, including introduce virtual charter schools; expanding online course offerings from private and for-profit companies, community colleges, and universities; and developing off-site high school campuses.
Robeson County officials want a quarter-cent sales tax hike and promise a two-cent reduction in the property tax rate. The net effect would be like a two-cent property tax hike, since the sales tax increases would bring in an additional $2.3 million a year, while the reduction in property tax revenues would be only $1.2 million. Robeson County taxpayers have already been hit with a two-cent tax increase with revaluation, so a vote to approve the sales-tax hike would mean a $2.3 million tax increase from last year.
The final budget for fiscal year 2011 spends $20.56 billion, $153 million more than the budget for fiscal year 2010. General fund availability in fiscal year 2011 excluding federal funds is $17 million less than was available in fiscal year 2010. A $7 billion shortfall (accounting for federal bailout funds, temporary taxes, pensions and retiree health benefits, etc.) in a $20 billion General Fund requires fundamental reform of state government.
Over the past year the focus of North Carolina’s Joint Legislative Committee on Tax Reform has been almost exclusively on whether to expand North Carolina’s sales tax to include services. Following sound principles of tax reform, however, the focus should be on whether the tax base is what economists call neutral, and whether the tax conforms with the principles of justice, rooted in a respect for liberty and freedom of choice. At a combined average state and local rate of 7.98 percent, North Carolina’s sales tax rate is virtually tied with Tennessee’s rate of 8 percent as the highest in the Southeast.