County and municipal governments provide many key services while taking in billions in revenue. Their roles grow ever greater as state government shifts more taxing power to localities to make up for money kept by the state. Still, finding comparative data is hard. That's why this report provides information of how much local government costs in every city and county in NC.
Most Americans agree that public education is in trouble. While legislators and educators have tried to fix failing schools by increasing funding, expanding regulations, or intensifying requirements for teachers, these changes have only served to patch a broken system. Public education in America needs radical reinvention, and charter schools provide an effective and powerful way to transform the educational system.
Just as North Carolina was on the verge of full compliance with EPA’s original ozone air pollution requirements, the standards were changed. In April 2004, most of the state once again was out of compliance. Policymakers and business leaders worry whether the state can meet the new federal requirements and avoid imposed limits on economic development and loss of federal transportation funds.
State legislators are currently considering proposals to issue hundreds of millions of dollars in additional debt without seeking voter approval. The billions of dollars worth of bonds and other debt already approved since 1996 have more than quadrupled the state’s debt service and represent as much as a third of the fiscal impact of the tax hikes passed by the General Assembly since 2001. It’s no wonder politicians are wary of asking voters for more. But that’s why they should.
A new survey of North Carolina’s most politically active business executives suggests that they do not agree with the current direction of public policy in the state. A sample of about 300 respondents from every region of North Carolina answered questions about fiscal policy, education, transportation, tax rates, regulation, and ways to improve economic competitiveness. This report provides not only data from the statewide sample but also from six regional subgroups: the Research Triangle, the Piedmont Triad, the Charlotte area, Northeastern North Carolina, Southeastern North Carolina, and Western North Carolina.
Counties and towns are a critical level of government in North Carolina, providing or administering many critical 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, By the Numbers 2004 provides information on how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
Ground-level ozone, often referred to as smog, is front and center on the policy agenda of environmental groups and legislators at all levels of government. Over the past several years, high-profile studies published by the American Lung Association, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and the Clean Air Network (a consortium of environmental advocacy groups) have claimed that ozone is having a severe impact on public health, both nationwide and in North Carolina. These reports have gotten a great deal of media attention but very little media scrutiny.
Gov. Mike Easley has proposed an annual cap on the growth of state spending in North Carolina that would be tied to personal income growth. In considering the idea, lawmakers should examine recent data that show state spending caps to be effective particularly if they rebate excess revenues to taxpayers and enjoy constitutional, rather than just statutory, authority. Without a spending cap, it is likely that fiscal discipline will disappear as the state’s economy recovers.
Summary: During debates about air pollution in North Carolina, supporters of more regulation have asserted that high rates of childhood asthma are related to increasing exposure to ground-level ozone. Not only has there been no such increase, but a new study shows there is, if anything, an inverse correlation — the higher the ozone level, the lower the asthma rate. Next time, lawmakers and the media should check the facts before repeating unfounded and politically motivated allegations.
Flawed studies and ignorance about North Carolina air quality have given lawmakers and the general public an inaccurate picture of trends in ground-level ozone, or "smog," in some cases exaggerating public exposure by a factor of 10. This study reexamines air-quality data from monitors across the state, concluding that exposure to dangerous ozone levels is surprisingly rare - and is dropping even without passage of the proposed "Clean Smokestacks" legislation.
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