JLF Research Archive
Showing items 1 to 25 of 224
The John Locke Foundation is continuing its tradition, started in 1995, of offering an alternative to the governor’s budget recommendation. Consistent with prior years, this JLF budget focuses on core government. This budget spends less in both years of the biennium than the governor’s, and only increases spending by 2 percent from the last fiscal year.
The governor and Republican members of the state legislature are advocating for a host of new incentive programs and the extension and/or expansion of others. However, these programs are likely to harm consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs who are not privy to the subsidies.
Overall, North Carolina ranks 23rd in the nation and 5th among the 12 states of the Southeast in freedom. North Carolina ranks 16th in fiscal freedom, 18th in educational freedom, 36th in regulatory freedom, and 46th in health care freedom.
The North Carolina historic preservation tax credits sunset on January 1, 2015. State government should strive to keep the tax code clean. If lawmakers choose to enact a program to aid in historic preservation, a grant program is a better alternative than a tax credit.
Capital gains taxes penalize saving, investment, and therefore entrepreneurship, by imposing a second layer of taxation on equity investment. The most straightforward way to end this bias is to eliminate the tax on capital gains completely.
For fiscal year 2014-15, North Carolina’s General Fund budget rose 2.2 percent to $21.1 billion. It funded an average teacher salary increase of 7 percent, one of the largest pay raises for North Carolina teachers in a generation, and created a Medicaid contingency fund of $186.4 million.
North Carolina passed a law during the 2014 legislative session taxing the liquid used in electronic cigarettes at an additional 5 cents per milliliter. This tax will hurt small businesses and violates the most important principle of good tax policy—neutrality. The North Carolina General Assembly should repeal the electronic cigarette tax.
The economic recession that hit full force in 2008 was declared officially over in June 2009 when the country experienced two quarters of very slow growth. But a troubled housing sector and a still-sluggish economy with high unemployment have contributed to the fiscal crises facing many cities and counties in North Carolina. As always, this edition of By the Numbers is must reading for government officials and taxpayers alike. It highlights what kinds of fiscal problems face local governments in an economy that grows only very slowly. With the facts given here, county commissioners and city council members can easily compare their area’s tax burden to similarly situated cities or counties. For taxpayers, BTN is a starting point for questions about taxes and spending, enabling them to hold their elected and appointed officials accountable.
Reverse logrolling applied to the current state budget would result in a General Fund budget of $20.6 billion and a $667 million surplus, which would allow legislators more flexibility when discussing spending priorities, including teacher pay increases. It would also allow enough to be set aside in savings and reserves to avoid any unforeseen shortfalls in the next fiscal year.
Every two years since 1996, coinciding with North Carolina's races for the General Assembly, the John Locke Foundation has published a revised edition of Agenda, our public policy guide for candidates and voters. Typically as we enter the campaign season, candidates for public office in North Carolina are faced with a daunting task: to develop informed positions on dozens of public policy issues. In the pages of Agenda 2014 we provide a concise and easily digestible guide covering a wide range of specific issues, from taxes and spending to energy policy and education.
Officials from Haywood County have proposed an increase in the county’s occupancy tax by 50 percent, which would disadvantage Haywood compared to surrounding counties with lower rates. Taxation is justified only for necessary purposes of government. Tourism promotion is not such a function and can best be served by the private sector.
Most studies find that lower levels of taxes and spending, less-intrusive regulation, and lower energy prices correlate with stronger economic performance. The implications of this research track well with recent public policies adopted in North Carolina. Judging from the available empirical evidence, North Carolina’s new policy mix is likely to result in stronger economic growth in the coming years.
The average North Carolina household in every income category received a tax cut from the 2013 tax reform. Considering both 2011 and 2013 tax changes, the average household in both the lowest and highest income categories is receiving a tax cut of about 1 percent of income.
Regardless of how it is measured, state spending is increasing. North Carolina’s total state budget peaked in 2012, reaching more than $51 billion or $5,348 per capita, with federal spending totaling 45 percent of total expenditures.
In 2013, North Carolina implemented fundamental tax reform, with changes to personal and corporate income taxes and sales tax. The plan cuts taxes by about $4.75 billion over five years, assuming the state meets certain revenue triggers and implements the plan fully. The importance of reducing tax revenues is that it transfers resources from political to private sector control, enhancing the overall efficiency of how these resources are used.
General Fund spending totals $20.6 billion for fiscal year 2013-14, only a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year, with Medicaid accounting for the largest increase in spending and tax reform saving taxpayers more than half-a-billion dollars over the two years.
The House and Senate tax bills now under discussion in the General Assembly would constitute fundamental tax reform, but will not prevent state government from funding core public services such as public schools and universities. They will, however, increase job creation and economic growth.
The Reverse Logrolling applied to the current state budget would result in a General Fund budget of $20.6 billion in the first year and $20.8 in the second, leaving surpluses of approximately $590 million in the first year and $940 million in the second year without tax reform adjustments.
North Carolina excise taxes generated $2.4 billion in revenue in FY2011, amounting to 13 percent of total tax revenue collected. They are used to manipulate choices freely made by taxpayers.
Counties and towns are critical levels of government in North Carolina, providing or administering many services while taking in billions of dollars of revenue. This is especially true as the state government has increasingly shifted more taxing authority to localities to make up for money kept by the state. While the importance of county and municipal government is great, obtaining comparative data is difficult. To help address this problem, By The Numbers provides information on how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
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.
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.
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.
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?