• Budget, Taxation, and the Economy

    • Connectivity and Broadband

      Broadband access is one of the most hotly debated issues for rural North Carolina. In many of the most rural parts of the state, reliable, high-speed internet service is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive. And, in 2018, access to broadband… Read More
    • Capital and Infrastructure

      State property and roads are the most tangible symbols of government. When roads are in disrepair and buildings are dilapidated, citizens wonder what their money buys. Capital projects, such as roads and facilities, are also the main source of state… Read More
    • Economic Growth

      Beginning in 2013, with the passage of tax and regulatory reform, the North Carolina legislature began consciously to pursue policies that are meant to expand economic growth. That is, policies aimed at allowing businesses to act efficiently and entrepreneurs to… Read More
    • Economic Impact Studies

      Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study touting… Read More
    • Federal Aid Dependency

      Federal funds are tempting, but they create risks for states.  North Carolina is no exception. First, they leave the state and those who rely on the federally funded programs vulnerable to a federal government shutdown (such as the one in… Read More
    • Film Grants

      “Bull Durham,” “Last of the Mohicans,” “Dirty Dancing,” and most other beloved “North Carolina films” were produced without film production grants. They were made years before state officials ever thought the industry required government help. Several features make North… Read More
    • Minimum Wage

      Working for the lowest allowable wage is nobody’s ideal. People are rightfully moved by the thought of their neighbors toiling in menial work for small wages. They know how hard it is to make ends meet, even with greater earnings. Read More
    • State Budgeting

      State government needs revenue to pay for the goods and services it provides, and the state raises that revenue by imposing personal income, sales, and other taxes on its residents. Approximately 88 percent of state budget revenue comes from personal… Read More
    • State Employee Benefits

      The state government is the largest employer in North Carolina with more than 300,000 full-time-equivalent positions who have been working for the state an average of 11 years. State employees received benefits in 2015 worth roughly $24,000 on top… Read More
    • State Spending Restraint

      North Carolina has one of the strictest balanced-budget requirements in the country. It requires not just balance on paper, but that the governor “shall effect the necessary economies in State expenditures” to avoid “a deficit for any fiscal period.”… Read More
    • Tax Reform

      For many years, it was recognized that North Carolina’s tax system needed a major overhaul. The system was a model of hodgepodge tax policy with high marginal rates on personal and corporate incomes and many exemptions carved out for the… Read More
  • Education

    • Apprenticeships

      For decades, economists have considered the costs and benefits of adopting variations of highly developed apprenticeship systems operating in Germany and Switzerland. Such efforts are based on the belief that apprenticeships are almost always a “win-win” for employers and apprentices. Read More
    • Charter Schools

      Few educational institutions are as misunderstood as public charter schools. They are not private or religious schools. They are not for-profit enterprises. They cannot pick and choose students. In short, they may not operate as they please. Charter schools are… Read More
    • Child Care

      The state began offering subsidies for child care services in 1964, making the Subsidized Child Care Program one of North Carolina’s longest-running welfare programs. The program provides vouchers to eligible families for child care services offered in any number of… Read More
    • Childhood Health and Nutrition

      As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, the debate over the National School Lunch Program and the sale of junk food in and around public schools has intensified. Public health advocates contend that schools can curb obesity by banning the… Read More
    • Class Size

      Support for reducing class size usually cuts across political and ideological divides, garnering accolades from legislators, policymakers, and parents alike. But does it work? The relationship between class size and student achievement has been the subject of scholarly debate for… Read More
    • Common Core State Standards

      Common Core State Standards are mathematics and English language arts standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. They were developed by three Washington, D.C.- based organizations – the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and… Read More
    • Education and the Workforce

      Do North Carolinians need four-year degrees to be successful? According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, those who decide to enter the workforce without a four-year degree may have more employment opportunities than those with one. BLS… Read More
    • Public School Finance

      Discussions of funding levels are necessary, but not sufficient, for truly understanding the health of our public schools. Researchers generally agree that how the money is spent is far more important than how much money is available to be spent. Read More
    • Federal Education Policy

      Before passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965, the United States Congress generally adhered to the principle that the federal government had no authority to undertake functions and duties not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Because… Read More
    • North Carolina Education Lottery

      The North Carolina Education Lottery is a very visible contributor to education funding in the state. That is the case even though the lottery has given less and less of a share of its proceeds to education over the years,… Read More
    • Prekindergarten Education

      Taxpayer-funded prekindergarten education in the United States is a multibillion-dollar hodgepodge of state and federal programs. The North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, a division within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), oversees two large… Read More
    • School Choice

      In North Carolina, public education is a core fiscal responsibility of state and local government. In the words of the N.C. Supreme Court, the state constitution recognizes the right to a “sound, basic education” for each child. Ideally, there would… Read More
    • Standards and Curricula

      Curricula are not standards. Standards are not curricula. In the debate over the Common Core State Standards, definitions of key terms, particularly “standards” and “curricula,” vary considerably. For some, standards and curricula are the same. For others, standards are a… Read More
    • Teaching Profession

      No system of public education can thrive without a high-quality teacher workforce. The problem is that state education bureaucracies enforce rules and regulations that fail to distinguish excellent teachers from poor ones. Indeed, a large body of research shows that… Read More
    • Testing and Accountability

      School accountability comes in two forms. Either parents keep schools accountable by “voting with their feet,” or states compel public school districts to administer standardized tests. As educational options increase, the value and necessity of testing decreases. Likewise, as long… Read More
    • Virtual Schools

      In general, a virtual school is an internet-based learning environment that allows students to participate in a class using a computer rather than being present in a classroom. Students can access all class materials, including lectures, notes, assignments, and handouts,… Read More
  • Government Regulation

    • Asset Forfeiture

      Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that authorizes the confiscation of property suspected of having been used for, or derived from, criminal activity. In an action for civil asset forfeiture, the property itself is the plaintiff, which means the… Read More
    • Bike Lanes

      Cities across the state have allocated millions of taxpayer dollars for bike lanes and bike share programs. Despite all the money being spent, bicycling remains an infrequent form of commuting. Good statistics about biking are scarce, but one of… Read More
    • Convention and Event Centers

      Local leaders are often captivated by the idea of convention and event centers they believe will grow their communities’ economies and raise their profiles. However, these projects are best left to the private sector to build where there is… Read More
    • Electricity Policy

      Electricity is a basic human need. The No. 1 issue in electricity policy is keeping consumer costs as low as possible. Households in North Carolina get electricity from a monopoly provider. Duke Energy Carolinas (Duke) and Duke Energy Progress… Read More
    • Eminent Domain

      Eminent domain refers to the government’s power to take land from property owners who are unwilling to sell it voluntarily. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Nor shall private property be taken for public use… Read More
    • Government Accountability

      Government needs to be open and accountable to taxpayers. Many of the tools needed to achieve that goal also help government employees succeed in their jobs. The state auditor and the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division are the two entities… Read More
    • Occupational Licensing

      Everyone in North Carolina has a self-evident, inalienable right to “the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor.” It’s in North Carolina’s Constitution, Article I, Section 1. Occupational licensing threatens this fundamental right. It is an entry… Read More
    • Overcriminalization

      In The Federalist No. 62, James Madison wrote, “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read,… Read More
    • Public Transit

      In 2016, North Carolina’s state and local governments spent well over $200 million on public transportation. However, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 1.1 percent of North Carolina’s workers commuted by public… Read More
    • Publicly Funded Stadiums

      It is not unusual for cities, counties, and even states to spend taxpayer money to build stadiums for major- and minor-league sports teams. Officials claim that stadiums are good for the economy, despite the likely increase in property, sales, or… Read More
    • Red Tape and Regulatory Reform

      North Carolina’s regulatory environment has improved steadily in recent years. The General Assembly under Republican leadership has passed Regulatory Reform Acts regularly since 2011, preventing and even reducing some unnecessary red tape that holds back small businesses, domestic industries, and… Read More
    • Transportation Planning

      Transportation planning in North Carolina took a wrong turn in 1987 when the General Assembly approved a controversial piece of legislation known as the Map Act. The Map Act gave the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) the power… Read More
  • Health Care

    • Certificate of Need

      Certificate of Need (CON) is a regulation that limits health care supply unless a specific “need” is determined by state health care planners. Based on the theory that the economics of health care is unlike any other market, CON laws use… Read More
    • Direct Primary Care

      The excessive amount of health care regulation that deteriorates the physician-patient relationship is pushing some doctors to opt out of insurance contracts so they can spend more time with their patients. This practice model is known as direct primary… Read More
    • Health Benefit Mandates

      There are opportunities for North Carolina lawmakers to help lower the cost of health insurance. One way is to re-examine the 56 health benefit mandates state officials have passed into law since the 1970s. Health benefit mandates are laws… Read More
    • Health Insurance Exchanges

      One of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) key provisions is the implementation of health insurance exchanges — online marketplaces where individuals can shop for federally qualified health plans offered by participating insurance companies. People who purchase a health plan through… Read More
    • Medicaid Expansion

      Medicaid is a program jointly funded by the state and federal government. Its core functions include paying medical providers for services rendered to low-income parents, children, pregnant women, the elderly, the blind, and the disabled. The federal government currently funds… Read More
    • Scope-of-Practice Reform

      For patients living in rural North Carolina, quality health care can be hard to find. Over 1.4 million people – 14 percent of the state’s population – live in primary-care shortage areas. What’s even more compelling is that, unlike other… Read More
    • Telemedicine Private-Payer Laws

      Telemedicine is a leading innovation that has proven to expedite the delivery of health care. Defined as the use of technology to deliver health care, health information, or health education at a distance, telemedicine helps people connect more quickly to… Read More
  • North Carolina Info

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North Carolina Policy Solutions 2018

Transformative Change Begins With Economic Liberty

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We are North Carolina’s Most Trusted and Influential Source of Common Sense. The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is named for John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders.

The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)(3) research institute and is funded solely from voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations.