Carolina Journal Weekly Report

Weekly Report 2004-06-18

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of

June 18, 2004

carolinajournal.com

Reaction of the Week

State lawmakers in Raleigh are currently debating bills that would authorize at least $760 million in new state debts — for land acquisition and for proposed University of North Carolina buildings — without a public vote. A new report from the John Locke Foundation examines trends in North Carolina state debt since 1996 and concludes that the principle of voter-approved borrowing should be respected, not evaded.

John Hood, president of the Raleigh-based think tank, writes that both voter-approved bonds and other state debts incurred since 1996 have more than quadrupled the state’s General Fund budget for debt service, which will rise to nearly $600 million in 2005-06, and have played a significant role in generating the state budget deficits of the past three years.

The proposed state budget for FY 2004-05 already creates the risk of another round of tax increases in 2005, Hood argued, because of the reliance on one-time revenue sources such as temporary tax increases, trust-fund withdrawals, or one-time budget savings. Authorizing new state debt would heighten the fiscal pressure on North Carolina’s state budget, particularly over the next few years as bonds already approved will drive the debt-service budget to unprecedented levels.



News Features

State subsidies bypass small business
GREENSBORO — As Greensboro-based RF Micro Devices Inc. asks for its third round of subsidies from local and state governments to hire workers and expand its plant, one local man said economic developers should rethink their job creation strategy. Tom May, head of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, a Greensboro business incubator, has been floating a radical idea among local business and community groups in recent weeks: economic incentive dollars should flow in proportion to the jobs they create.

Feds delayed rail for faulty planning model
CHARLOTTE — Problems in predicting how many passengers will ride Charlotte’s first light-rail transit line have cost $7 million in planning and construction delays. And the cost could rise. If the city’s computer model that predicts ridership had passed federal scrutiny and delivered forecasts on time, Charlotte likely would have been promised the federal money needed to build its $398.7 million train line.

Study: Red-light cameras don’t curb wrecks
GREENSBORO — The city’s 18 red-light cameras do not make drivers safer and might be contributing to an increase in wrecks, N.C. A&T researchers have told the city. “At a minimum, we can say that there is no evidence that the (red-light camera) program is decreasing accidents,” the researchers, Mark Burkey and Kofi Obeng of A&T’s Transportation Institute, concluded earlier this month in an addendum to a study delivered to the city in November.

NC textile jobs up this month
GREENSBORO — Here’s some news you haven’t read in awhile. An improvement – if only for one month – in textile mill employment in North Carolina. So says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preliminary figures from the federal agency show textile mill jobs in the state increased by 400 in April. While 400 jobs may not sound like a big deal – and statistically it isn’t – it marks the first time in 15 months textile-mill employment has gone up in the state.

NC girls-only charter school proposed
RALEIGH — An all-girl middle school has earned endorsement from state education officials to become the first single-sex charter school in North Carolina. The school, which would be called Gamma Girls, is one of three charters that would open in the fall of 2005 as recommended by the committee that advises the State Board of Education on charter schools. Gamma Girls would serve girls in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

It’s Not “Reform”
The Dunn Daily Record questions why North Carolina taxpayers should be forced to pay into a campaign fund for judicial candidates that has failed to attract voluntary contributions. This is less about reform than politics, the paper concludes.




Upcoming Events

Monday, June 21, 2004 at Noon
Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with Dr. Tim Vercelotti
Taking the Pulse of North Carolina: The Making of the Elon University Poll

Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 8:30 am to 11:00 am
Light Rail and the Public Trust
with Ted Balaker
Jacobs Fellow
Reason Public Policy Institute
&
Tom Rubin
Independent Transporation Consultant
Former Controller-Treasurer of the
Southern California Rapid Transit District
A Town Hall Meeting on Light Rail in Charlotte

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

If there were not a need for it, people would not be here.
Carolyn Kirkland, director of the Durham charter school Central Park School, explaining to the Durham Herald-Sun the surge of interest in public alternatives to traditional public schools.

Most of your high unemployment is in these (rural) counties. It’s also the hardest to recruit in those counties.
Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, explaining in the Winston-Salem Journal legislation he introduced this week to add $20 million for rural counties onto an economic-incentives bill that already would give Gov. Mike Easley $20 million in economic development money.

There were serious concerns about where the monitors were placed.
Ginger Booker, Piedmont Triad Council of Governments assistant director explaining in the High Point Enterprise the concern raised of the placement over ozone monitoring stations around the Lexington area. Some monitors have been place right next to bbq restaurants which have prompted many to question if the readings reflect the true air quality of the county.

At some point, it essentially changed from a bona fide farm use to a manufacturing use, and at that point in time they should have gotten the property rezoned.
— Guilford County Planning director Mark Kirstner discussing in the Greensboro News & Record the county’s review of a family fish-hatchery that evolved into a plastics manufacturing operation a decade ago without the land being properly rezoned.

They’re as close to bulletproof as you can get.
— Daytech vice president Rick Clements describing in the Raleigh News & Observer bus shelters his company sold to the city of Durham this week.

It’s racism by design. It assumes people of color vote a certain way.
— Fayetteville City Councilman Paul Williams describing in The Fayetteville Observer proposed new voting districts for the city which have some saying are too focused on race.


On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…

Join host John Hood for the most informative news hour on the North Carolina radio waves. This week Carolina Journal associate editor Donna Martinez discusses the urban planning situation in Portland, Ore., that has residents fleeing. Next, John Locke Foundation Research Vice President Roy Cordato discusses President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies which were as revolutionary as his foreign policies. Then, North Carolina State University professor of Sociology Dr. Barbara Risman discusses the role of public policy in American families. And last, Budget and Tax Center director Elaine Mejia debates Hood on the state’s corporate tax burden.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…

Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. This week’s panelists include Asheville Citizen-Times journalist Kerra L. Bolton, Carolina Journal associate editor Donna Martinez, Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch, and John Hood from the John Locke Foundation. This week: more state debt the NC House authorized this week, the questionable future of the Global TransPark, public school alternatives, and advertising in university sports.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…

Triangle viewers can tune in as host Monty Knight moderates another exciting week of political debate between Carolina Journal’s Donna Martinez and the Carolinian’s Cash Michaels. This week they will talk with Congressional District 13 candidates Graham Boyd and Virginia Johnson. Then Dr. Megan Davis with the NC Department of Health & Human Services with discuss the threat of the West Nile virus in the state. And last, Manager Scott Reed will discuss Durham’s new One Call Center.

 

©2003 John Locke Foundation | 200 West Morgan St., Raleigh, NC 27601, (919) 828-3876

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