As the filing period for state legislative office in North Carolina concluded on Dec. 15, 2023, the stage is now set for a pivotal 2024 election cycle, with all 50 seats in the state Senate and 120 seats in the state House up for contention.

A total of 380 candidates, spanning diverse political affiliations — including Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans — have entered the race. The primary elections are scheduled for March 5, 2024, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5. These state legislative seats, subject to re-election every two years, are crucial in shaping North Carolina’s policy agenda, influencing statewide legislation, and addressing pressing issues. As we approach the 2024 electoral season, the significance of these contests cannot be overstated, as the elected representatives will wield considerable influence in shaping the state’s trajectory for the foreseeable future.

Amidst North Carolina’s commendable economic and fiscal accomplishments over the past decade, it has become increasingly imperative for state budget hawks to scrutinize legislative candidates in the upcoming 2024 election cycle.

While Republican-led supermajorities have spearheaded crucial regulatory and tax reforms, a paradox exists with the growth of state government — such as Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and continued increases in state government spending — raising essential questions about adherence to fiscal principles. Initiatives like establishing special funds, exemplified by the $250 million allocated to NCInnovation for venture capital grants in university research, underscore the need to probe candidates’ positions on government spending and the allocation of taxpayer funds.

Fiscal conservatives should engage candidates directly, seek transparency on their fiscal philosophies, and ensure alignment with principles beyond party affiliations. Through such efforts, voters can discern candidates who genuinely champion limited government and fiscal responsibility more effectively.

Here are three questions that Old North State conservatives should ask legislative candidates in 2024.

Question 1: Should taxpayer dollars be used to incentivize specific companies or industries to move to North Carolina?

A fiscal conservative would likely advocate for a “no” answer to this question. Firstly, fiscal conservatives generally believe in limited government intervention and prioritize free-market principles. Using taxpayer funds to provide incentives can distort the natural market forces by favoring specific companies or industries, potentially leading to an inefficient allocation of resources. Moreover, such incentive programs often involve picking winners and losers, a practice that fiscal conservatives find objectionable, as it can create an unfair playing field and stifle competition — particularly when there is no guarantee to taxpayers, and such deals can often disrupt local communities.

Question 2: How do you plan to streamline or reduce regulations to encourage business development and make North Carolina more attractive to entrepreneurs and investors?

Fiscal conservatives generally lean towards simplifying and cutting down regulations to create a more business-friendly atmosphere. From a conservative viewpoint, too many rules can impede economic growth, innovation, and job creation by limiting businesses unnecessarily. The best response would be to support a fair, predictable regulatory system that supports entrepreneurship. By promoting a regulatory environment that helps companies to succeed and fosters healthy competition, the candidate would be in line with fiscal conservative principles, aiming to boost economic activity and improve the overall well-being of North Carolina.

A fair regulatory environment is preferred over one centered on corporate incentives, focusing on market efficiency, a level playing field, limited government involvement, proper resource allocation, and long-term sustainability. Unlike corporate incentives, a fair regulatory structure encourages businesses to compete based on merit, promoting innovation and efficiency. It ensures fair competition, preventing distortions caused by government favoritism. Conservatives generally support a restrained role for government in the economy, and an appropriate regulatory environment enables market forces to guide resource allocation instead of relying on political decisions.

Question 3: What is your vision of the future of North Carolina’s energy sector?

Fiscal conservatives would probably emphasize the significance of dependable and cost-effective energy sources. Ensuring a stable and reasonably priced energy grid supports economic growth and job creation. Natural gas and nuclear energy are seen as more reliable than intermittent sources like solar or wind power, consistently generating electricity to meet the needs of homes and businesses.

While all energy sources are subsidized to some extent, focusing on reliability and cost per energy unit produced is much more in line with an affordable grid. Concentrating on reliable energy sources is in line with fiscal conservatism, aiming to sustain affordable and reliable energy for the long-term benefit of North Carolina’s economy without burdening taxpayers.

Let’s be honest. The prospects for substantial reform in Washington, DC, appear limited, as history has shown over the past decade. However, there is a notable trend of advancing economic freedom within state legislatures nationwide. To continue this momentum at the state level, it becomes crucial for conservative voters to remain vigilant. State governments have the most realistic potential for positive shifts in economic policies. So, it is incumbent upon conservative voters to stay engaged, actively scrutinize candidates, and contribute to the ongoing march toward economic freedom. In doing so, voters can play a vital role in shaping policies for an even better North Carolina.