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.
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.
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.
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