• Research Report

    Cut Payroll Tax Now: Use State Reserve, Not UI, for Community Colleges

    posted June 1, 2001 by Michael Lowrey, Don Carrington
    North Carolina's Unemployment Insurance trust funds continue to be bloated due to overcharging workers and employers. A series of tax cuts during the 1990s has failed to bring the system under control. A new bill would cut the UI tax by 20 percent but impose a new tax of the same amount to fund unneeded administrative costs and community college items that, in some cases, constitute corporate welfare. A better answer would be to cut UI taxes and draw down the state's separate $200 million reserve for any needed college improvements.
  • Research Report

    House Budget Backstep: Slush Funds Return as Spending Growth Hits 5.6%

    posted June 1, 2001 by Don Carrington, John Hood
    The FY 1999-2000 budget approved by the House Budget Committee would increase operating spending by 5.6 percent, despite talk earlier in the session of a state fiscal crisis. Although the budget does include some good ideas — such as raising tuitions and covering rising costs in the state employee health plan with existing retirement reserves rather than increased taxpayer support — it also brings back a number of old, bad ideas such as $12 million in discretionary slush funds in Human Resources and Cultural Resources eliminated just last year.
  • Research Report

    A Tale of Three Budgets: Senate Plan Allows Rapid Growth in Spending

    posted May 29, 2001 by John Hood
    The N.C. Senate is debating its budget proposal for FY 2001-03. For all the furor about "severe cuts" in the plan, it would increase total General Fund spending next year at nearly the same rate (4.7%) as Gov. Mike Easley's budget (5.2%), including a 15% increase in health and human services spending vs. Easley's 16.2% hike. Both offer a stark contrast to the Changing Course budget prepared by Locke analysts, which would essentially hold spending constant while cutting taxes.
  • Research Report

    Clearing the Air: AlA’s Misleading Attack on NC Air Quality

    posted May 22, 2001 by Dr. Roy Cordato
    The American Lung Association's recent report on ozone fueled a media frenzy in North Carolina, with repeated suggestions that the air in the Triangle and Charlotte was "more polluted than New York City's." The truth is far different. Due to a misleading grading system and a faulty and selective reading of data, the ALA report provides little useful information to North Carolinians about the quality of the air they breathe, and falsely suggests that pollution is increasing.
  • Research Report

    Height of Irresponsibility: Governor’s 2001 Budget Hikes Debt, Possibly Taxes

    posted May 16, 2001 by John Hood
    For all the talk of a fiscal crisis this year and the need to tighten the belt of state government, Gov. Jim Hunt's proposed adjustments to the FY 2000-01 budget would hike General Fund operating spending by nearly 7 percent, vastly increase state debt, and deplete state savings accounts for many years to come. The budget also contains many new items of questionable merit. North Carolinians should not be surprised to see sizable tax increases in the future as a result.
  • Research Report

    1990s: A Tax Hike Decade: Contrary to Popular Belief, State Tax Burden Rose

    posted May 14, 2001 by John Hood
    As state lawmakers grapple with a projected budget gap of at least half a billion dollars, some observers have blamed recent tax cuts for the problem. But modest tax reductions in the mid-1990s followed big tax increases earlier in the decade. The net change in taxes in the 1990s was a tax increase of nearly half a billion dollars. Other proposed causes for the gap, including poor legal representation and excessive spending growth during the decade, are more persuasive.
  • Research Report

    Bonds Would Double Debt: Taxpayers At Risk From Dramatic Rise in Spending

    posted May 9, 2001 by Thomas Paul De Witt
    Responding to calls for billions of dollars for capital needs in the UNC and community college systems, legislative leaders are considering asking voters to approve a $3.1 billion bond referendum this November. Because the bonds would more than double the state's debt burden and generate a debt service budget approaching $600 million in four years, taxpayers have little reason to believe that a bond issue of that size won't result in tax increases in the future.
  • Research Report

    Changing Course IV: An Alternative Budget for North Carolina

    posted May 6, 2001 by John Hood, Dr. Roy Cordato, Don Carrington
    North Carolina faces significant fiscal and economic challenges over the next two years. But it need not resort to higher taxes, a state-run lottery, higher debt, or gimmickry to balance its budget. Nor does North Carolina need to skimp on crucial needs such as education and highways. By setting firm priorities within state government, eliminating unnecessary or duplicative programs, and charging users of some services a reasonable price, state leaders can generate sufficient savings to invest in the future needs of the state.
  • Research Report

    Rhetoric or Reform? The Future of Mental Health in North Carolina

    posted April 19, 2001 by Dr. N.N. Fullwood
    North Carolina has reached a crossroads in the delivery of mental health services. After decades of escalating budgets and haphazard growth, years of costly and controversial study, and promises to act that have yet failed to materialize, the state’s mental health system continues to suffer from a host of systemic problems. Only fundamental change in the structure and funding of the system will improve outcomes for patients and taxpayers.

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