A high-speed rail proposal for North Carolina would create substantial risks for taxpayers, while doing little to nothing to reduce traffic, help the environment, cut energy use, or create jobs. North Carolina should return the federal high-speed rail grant funding, withdraw its pending application, and seek no more funding for passenger rail.
North Carolina needs a thorough review of the number and types of courses offered in its public schools, especially during tight budget times. There is no evidence that school districts or the state has conducted an audit of the costs and outcomes or elective courses. A statewide curriculum audit would be a sound way to reduce costs and refocus our curriculum on the core skills that many of our public school students so desperately need.
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 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.
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.
The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill (HB 1403) that would require law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from individuals arrested for certain felonies. Such a law would overturn the time-honored principle of innocent before proven guilty.
Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 is another missed opportunity to improve state government finances and operations. It includes $578 million in new federal stimulus money that does not cut total spending.
North Carolina has the largest state-owned road system, but only the 9th largest road budget.
Since 2002, North Carolina’s interstates are smoother, roads are safer, and traffic congestion is improved.
Wind power advocates are pushing for commercial wind turbines along the mountain ridgelines - the mountains and the coast are the only locations where wind is viable in North Carolina. These commercial wind turbines can be as tall as 500 feet or the height of 50-story skyscrapers. The Ridge Law generally prohibits most tall buildings over 40 feet from being built along the ridgelines.
Because of their high costs, tiny benefits, and interference with property rights, North Carolina should not attempt to provide high-speed rail service. Instead, it should use its share of the $8 billion stimulus funds solely for incremental upgrades, such as safer grade crossings and signaling systems, that do not obligate state taxpayers to pay future operations and maintenance costs.
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