Mecklenburg County voters recently rejected a sales-tax increase. It was advertised as raising money for “arts and parks.” Joseph Coletti, John Locke Foundation senior fellow, has examined the impact of the timing of local sales-tax votes on the likelihood of their approval. He’s found that voters are less likely to endorse these tax hikes during high-turnout elections. Public schools have struggled for years with a racial achievement gap. But recent research is pointing toward ways to help improve minority student performance. Seth Gershenson, professor of public policy at American University, explains how a teacher’s race can make an impact on a student’s success. His most recent study applies that finding to charter schools. As N.C. legislators haggled over budget issues during the summer and early fall, one of their fights involved the future of the state business franchise tax. You’ll hear arguments for and against reducing that tax. The General Assembly has taken several steps in recent years to address the opioid crisis. During a recent speech at Western Carolina University, Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, recapped recent opioid-related laws. Davis also offered ideas about the next steps North Carolina should pursue in fighting the effects of powerful, dangerous drugs. Medical debt can cause major hassles for many North Carolinians, especially those with low incomes. Jordan Roberts, John Locke Foundation health care policy analyst, is working with a group called RIP Medical Debt to address the issue. The group purchases low-income patients’ medical debt and wipes it clean, often for pennies on the dollar. Roberts hopes to raise $30,000 in an attempt to relieve as much as $2.5 million in old medical debt in central North Carolina.