Carolina Journal Weekly Report

Weekly Report 2005-01-07

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of
January 07,
2005
carolinajournal.com


Reaction of the Week

Lawmakers are reportedly
planning to discuss an expensive state program next year to respond to
state court decisions in the Leandro case, but many appear to be operating
under misperceptions about school-funding disparities in North Carolina
and what the state constitution requires, according to a new report published
Thursday by the John Locke Foundation.

John Hood, president of the Raleigh-based
think tank, observed in the new Spotlight
briefing paper “Equity in School
Finance” that many state policymakers,
activists, and even some parents
are under the mistaken impression that
per-pupil spending varies widely
among North Carolina school districts
based on differences in taxable
property. In fact, Hood showed, local
sources make up a relatively small
share of the education-funding pie,
with state and federal dollars accounting
for three-fourths of the
total, so actual dollars spent per student are
remarkably consistent
across the state.

“In other states where local
dollars predominate, it might be easier to
understand why there are lingering
debates about school-finance
equity,” Hood wrote. “But in North Carolina,
this debate was really
settled decades ago when state government became
the primary source of
school funding.”



News Features

Easley wants
2001 tax increases ended

RALEIGH — Gov. Mike Easley remains hopeful
that two tax increases
approved in 2001 can expire this year, despite
uncertainty about the
strength of the state’s budget situation.
A half-cent
sales-tax increase and a higher top income-tax bracket,
both approved
in 2001 as temporary measures to help ease budget
shortfalls, already
have been extended once. Legislative leaders, who
must assemble a two-year
budget this year, have recently expressed
reservations about allowing
the taxes to expire.

Basnight wants action on taxes, warming

NAGS HEAD
— Senate leader Marc Basnight recently gave an interview
about legislative
accomplishments in 2004 and the agenda for 2005. He
expressed concern
about growing health care costs and their impact on
North Carolina’s
budget, linking million dollars in Medicaid expense to
smoking and saying
lawmakers should consider increasing the cigarette
tax. Basnight also
wants lawmakers to consider global warming and how
it could impact the
coast. 

Legislators perturbed at sales tax switch

CHARLOTTE —
Mecklenburg County commissioners may stop using sales
tax revenue to avoid
raising property taxes, a practice that has
perturbed some powerful legislators.
Legislators had voted in 2002 to
give counties the option of raising local
sales taxes by a half-cent to
offset state revenue lost to budget shortfalls.
The Mecklenburg board
adopted the tax, but instead of using it to avoid
budget cuts, it voted
in 2003 to use the $25 million it generated to cut
property tax
rates. 

Appeals court clears path for airfield

RALEIGH
— A federal appeals court Monday lifted a nearly year-old
injunction
blocking the Navy’s construction of a controversial airfield
in Eastern
North Carolina. Airfield opponents, however, said the 4th
U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals’ ruling had little significance because
it came shortly
before a key hearing Jan. 19. The hearing could decide
lawsuits filed
against the Navy by the two N.C. counties and three
environmental groups
that oppose it. 

DOT considers road fund redistribution

RALEIGH —
The state Department of Transportation wants to take more
than $300 million
in highway money that the Triangle region is
expecting and send it to
other areas. That could delay several projects
until after 2012 and the
proposal doesn’t say which projects would
suffer. The plan has wide support
among DOT leaders. They say state law
requires them to correct imbalances
in how highway money has been spent
in the past six years. 

Judge:
Red-light fines must aid schools

GREENSBORO — A Superior Court judge’s
ruling could mean a windfall
for the Guilford County Schools and the end
of red-light cameras across
the state. Superior Court Judge Lindsay R.
Davis Jr. ruled Dec. 22 that
the fines collected from red-light camera
citations in High Point
should be given to the school district and not
the city. Under the
ruling, school officials estimate that the district
could gain as much
as $1.5 million from past red-light ticket proceeds
in High Point. 

Beware of tax quagmire

The Hendersonville Times-News
warns state lawmakers in
Raleigh not to overlook the painful experience
of other states that
have experimenting with expanding sales tax to cover
services — and not
to make taxes even less fair. 

The ninth
life

Syndicated columnist John Hood writes about the coming
financial deadline
facing the Global TransPark, the best-possible
outcome, and the lesson
the fiasco offers about economic
development. 






Upcoming Events

Monday,
January 10, 2005 at 12:00 noon

Shaftesbury Society Luncheon
with Jan Pueschel
An
Overview of the Clerk’s Office

Monday, January 24, 2005 at 12:00 noon
Headliner
Luncheon

with Fred Barnes
The 109th Congress and the Bush Agenda

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

Capital
Quotes

At 12:01, my staff had the pleasure of being able to say,
‘I’m sorry, John Edwards doesn’t work here anymore.’

Newly
elected Sen. Richard Burr as quoted in The News & Observer
of Raleigh
discussing phone calls his office received for former Sen.
John Edwards
this week as Burr transitioned into Edwards’ old office.
 

Maybe
we’ll let the Cherokees deal cards – and let them pay a little more tax.

Gaston County Democrat and Finance Committee co-chairman David Hoyle as
quoted in the Raleigh News & Observer discussing options to fill the
expected billion-dollar budget hole for the state this upcoming fiscal
year.

If you haven’t gotten your adjustments done before this week,
you pretty much deserve to be out of business.

University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill economist James F. Smith as quoted in
the News & Observer
of Raleigh discussing the end of several textile
quotas with the new
year. The World Trade Organization has been eliminating
the 40-year-old
quota system for the past decade.  

The deputy
walked in and said, ‘All illegal aliens with false IDs, please step forward,’
Six people did. They thought we had a special line for people with fake
IDs. It sounds like a Chevy Chase movie, but it really happened.

Alamance County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Randy Jones discussing in
The News & Record of Greensboro the problem the state is having with
illegal aliens seeking and attaining fake identification cards.  

Same
as textiles, same as furniture. Candy is just smaller. Nobody really pays
attention to it.

Piedmont Candy Co. vice president Chris
Reid
describing to the Greensboro News & Record
how the domestic rate
for purchasing sugar is higher than the world
rate. Domestic sugar is
inflated by federal government subsidies, which
makes it difficult for
American candymakers to compete with their
foreign counterparts.

It’s
a more complicated issue than simply saying big houses are bad.

Triangle developer Rusty Ammons discussing in the Raleigh News & Observer
how
Wake County is targeting large homes for the stormwater run off
they send
to Falls Lake. The county claims that large houses have
larger than average
surface areas which prevent rainwater from draining
into the ground.  

It
missed a golden opportunity to look at the issues and find a little truth.
They’ve just restated some very poor analysis that’s been done in the past.

Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition president Marlene Sanford
describing to the Greensboro News & Record
a report released by a
local Sierra Club chapter that blames the city’s
traffic woes on residents
who chose to live further from downtown.
 




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 John Locke Foundation
research vice president Roy Cordato discusses his talk about tax reform
given to the Shaftesbury Society discussion club. Next, Pope Center for
Higher Education Policy
director George Leef
discusses non-resident tuition
within the University of North Carolina
system. Are non-residents getting
too sweet a deal? Then, Carolina Journal associate publisher Don Carrington
discusses his article about
a school in Bertie County who the US Justice
Department says has too
many white students. And last, Locke Foundation
policy analyst Karen Palasek takes a Free Market Minute to discuss how
property value is protected in the free market.



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: Former Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, Former House
Speaker Dan Blue, Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch, and John Hood of
the
John Locke Foundation. Topics this week include: State Board Calls
for
a Re-vote, State Employee Health Plan Needs Doctoring, and
Affordable
Housing Is Out of Reach of Many. 



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 state superintendent of
education candidates June Atkinson and Bill Fletcher debate their contested
race, which is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court.  

 

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