Revenue from the North Carolina Education Lottery has fallen short of initial estimates, with the inevitable result that the Legislature has had to provide public tax dollars to “backfill” pre-kindergarten and other programs that were to be financed with lottery revenue. For example, more than half ($37.5 million) of the proposed budgetary increase of $56 million for Governor Easley’s More-At-Four program is to make up for the difference between projected ($425 million) and actual Education Lottery revenue receipts ($350 million). In hopes of remedying this problem, the conference committee budget reportedly includes provisions to change how revenue from the North Carolina Education Lottery is to be distributed. The new formula, however, does not address the root causes of the shortfall and further removes operation of the lottery from public accountability. The new legislation would make the following changes:
Civitas Institute's 2007 DecisionMaker Poll results.
The General Assembly and the Governor have gleefully trumpeted the passage of “Jessica’s Law” (HB 933) in the final weeks of the legislative session. What they aren’t talking about – and don’t want anyone to know – is that what North Carolina now calls Jessica’s Law is a far cry from the original Florida law passed in memorial to nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Under this partial enactment of “Jessica’s Law,” an adult who takes advantage of a young child’s innocence to grope, fondle, and inappropriately touch them still gets a mere slap on the wrist.
Senate Bill 954, sponsored by Senator Daniel Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg), proposes entangling North Carolina in an interstate compact that instructs the state’s presidential electors to vote for the candidate that wins a plurality of the national popular vote. This proposal has been introduced nationally, and to date only Maryland has joined the compact.1 Currently, our state’s presidential electors are assigned by unit rule to the candidate that garners a plurality of the vote in North Carolina. This procedure ensures the presidential candidate chosen by the most North Carolinians receives the state’s presidential electors, thus ensuring North Carolina’s choice for the presidency is represented. The interstate compact will result in the cessation of North Carolina’s right to participate in the election of the president through the Electoral College, and the majority of our state’s voters will have their influence undermined by the emergence of a metropolitan focus in presidential campaigns.
A coverage mandate is a legal requirement that dictates that all health insurance policies sold in North Carolina cover certain services, providers, and groups of people. Mandates are the result of laws passed by the General Assembly as a means of regulating the insurance market. Insurance buyers pay for coverage mandates through higher insurance premiums. While some mandates do not affect the price of insurance by very much, others are more costly. North Carolina has 46 mandates, which together have increased the price of health insurance an estimated 41 percent.
Civitas Institute's July 2007 DecisionMaker poll.
The first full glimpse of the N.C. House version of the 2007-2009 budget was released late Monday afternoon. What did it contain? More of the same: increased spending and higher taxes. In spite of an estimated budget surplus of $1.135 billion for the year, House leaders increased tax revenues by more than $300 million. Much of this new revenue will come from reinstating the so-called temporary tax increases that were passed in 2001. The “temporary” taxes were lowered last year with the promise that they would finally be allowed to expire on July 1, 2007. If the House budget passes, North Carolina taxpayers will again see what, in effect, has become a biennial tax increase that would keep the state sales tax rate at 4.25 percent and the upper-level income tax rate at 8 percent for another two years.
Civitas Institute's September 2007 DecisionMaker Poll
A coverage mandate is a legal requirement that dictates that all health insurance policies sold in North Carolina cover certain services, providers, and groups of people. Mandates are the result of laws passed by the General Assembly as a means of regulating the insurance market. Insurance buyers pay for coverage mandates through higher insurance premiums. While some mandates do not affect the price of insurance by very much, others are more costly. North Carolina has 46 mandates, which together have increased the price of health insurance an estimated 29 percent.
In terms of job creation, state government is growing much faster than the state’s private economy.
Education, jobs and good government are the values legislators claim have guided their work this past session and will guide their work after the next election. If we look more closely at what the Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate have actually done these past two years, it becomes clear that things are not what they seem.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001, the federal government has encouraged improvement in reading and math curriculums by holding states accountable for their public schools' performance. Since the federal government began holding states answerable for their progress there has been an outcry of debate from the states arguing that their tests are unfair. Critics claim the tests are not geared towards individual students of every state and that there should be minimal federal control over state education. Based on dismal gaps between state and federal testing results, one thing remains clear: some states' schools continue to fail in their fundamental mandate to teach children to read, write and solve basic math problems. The real question is — are these concerns rooted in solid principle or are the states crying foul because they are afraid of the accountability testing holds?
It has been a little over 10 years since the North Carolina State House of Representatives had conservative leadership. Very few of us remember anything about what happened during that first long session, but one bill has made an impact on many North Carolinians . The Parental Notification Act of 1995 (I), sponsored by 63 conservative House members, requires that at least one parent or guardian provide written consent before an abortion can be performed on an un-emancipated minor (or a court order under special circumstances). Prior to 1995, physicians performing abortions had the discretion to obtain consent or not.
"His statement is misguided and incorrect." -John D. Wright, Jr. M.D. (pediatric ophthalmologist in a letter to the News & Observer, Jan., 26, 2006, responding to Jim Black’s assertion that the new comprehensive eye exams prevent learning disabilities) "I usually trust my pediatrician to tell me if there’s a problem or not. That’s what they’re there for." -North Carolina parent "I own a hair salon and think all kids should get a haircut before they start school -- so where do I send my campaign contribution to Jim Black?" -Anonymous to the Charlotte Observer Jan. 27, 2006
Just in the last five years, over $527 million earmarked for roads has been diverted from the Highway Trust Fund. Now we are faced with a tax increase of $74 million — with claims it is needed to pay for roads. Our state’s leadership has wasted the road money. They have spent it on pet projects, such as airline recruitment, ferries, a teapot museum and the Global Transpark. If they had used the $527 million for roads, as promised, a tax increase would not be necessary. How can we believe that this new tax money will even go for roads?