Civitas Review

NC's Economic Growth on Uptick in Most Recent Years


The folks at Opportunity Ohio have compiled a 50-state analysis of state GDP growth, breaking the growth rates down into 16-year, 4-year, and 2-year periods. You can see the breakdown here.

Looking at North Carolina's growth rates over the various time horizons is interesting. NC's growth rate over the past 16 years (1997-2013) ranks 23rd, right about the middle of the pack. Our growth rate looking at the past 4 years, however, drops to 28th. But then focusing on just the last two years (2011-13), NC's growth rate rises to 12th best in the nation.

Do policy changes help explain the improved relative growth rate in the last 2 years?

Poll: 22 % of teachers are unsatisfactory; teachers say 13 percent of colleagues unsatisfactory


It's Christmas morning if you're interested in finding out what the public thinks on major education issues; Education Next has released its annual national Poll .  If you want a quick read  Education Next  provides a good summary of results. In addition, this  morning's  Wall Street Journal (subscription required) contains an opinion piece by Harvard Professor Paul Peterson where he talks about how the public ranked teachers and how teachers ranked colleagues.  Peterson writes:

About 22 % of public school teachers are not performing adequately in the public eye, if one assumes that satisfactory work requires at least a C grade . Citizens do like a majority of the teachers in their local school district, saying on average, that 51 %  of them deserve an A or a B. But 13% earned a D    and no less than 9% of teachers were given an F.

Parent surveys are nearly identical. Parents give 56% of the teachers in their local schools one of the two top grades, but they  hand out a D to 13% and an F to 10%.

Teachers ratings are perhaps the most telling. Educators tend to be the most generous in giving high marks, saying that 69 percent of their colleagues in the local school district deserve an A or B. Not everyone scores so well. Teachers report that 8% percent of their colleagues deserve a D, and that 5% deserve an F.

The talk about underperforming teachers naturally leads to teacher tenure.  So what does the public think about tenure?   Respondents to the Ednext poll oppose granting tenure to teachers by over a 2 to 1 margin. The public also thinks that if tenure is awarded it should be tied to how well students are performing in the classroom.

The survey also covers other important topics. .

Common Core: Respondents remain split on Common Core. However, it is interesting to note when the term Common Core is used in the question, as opposed to state standards,  opposition increased significantly. Results confirm what many believe; Common Core is a toxic term.

School Choice: Poll results show support for school choice remains strong but varies depending on how a program is structured and financed.

The EdNext PEPG Poll contains lots of interesting information. One of the best things about the poll it is that many of the questions have been asked in multiple years, so you can often track changes in public sentiment. It's well worth reading.



HB 1224: Will "Conservatives" Side With Free Markets or Corporate Welfare?


Today the House is expected to vote on HB 1224, a bill that has been bounced around between the House and Senate, a couple committees, has had amendments added, and has garnered quite a bit of controversy among legislative leaders.

The two main components of the bill include a cap on the local sales tax, and an expansion of the state's corporate welfare efforts.

At minimum, these two components should be separated into different bills. They are unrelated and should be voted on separately.

More to the point, however, is the question of whether or not the "conservative" leadership supports corporate welfare and cronyism, or free markets. I've written recently about how cronyism not only slows economic growth because it directs scarce resources away from their most valued uses, but it creates a climate to encourage political horse-trading that favors large corporations at the expense of small businesses.

Furthermore, if the "conservative" leadership supports such corporate welfare schemes, they signal that they are actually comfortable with continuing the type of cronyism they criticized during past administrations, as they offer up the same justifications we saw in the Perdue and Easley administrations.

Without Corporate Welfare, NC Getting Less Love from Film Industry


In yet another article predicting doom for the film industry in NC due to the sizeable reduction in government handouts to production companies, we hear still more comments that must come as stunning news to the folks at the liberal NC Budget & Tax Center and the progressives who argued last year against state tax cuts because "state taxes don't matter."

Johnny Griffin, director of Wilmington Regional Film Commission, said for a show like “Dome,” being already established in the region can't compete with the bottom line.

“I don't care how much somebody likes you and loves you, they are not coming going to come here and spend 25 percent more than they can spend somewhere else,” Griffin said the commission's board of director's meeting last Friday.

State taxes do matter. As Griffin points out, return on investment weighs heavily and when companies can get a better return in lower-tax states, they will take their investment dollars and jobs there. According to Griffin, companies may love everything about your state, but they will not continue to invest when other states offer better returns due to lower tax burdens.

The left's claims that state taxes don't matter are simply detached from reality.

Liberal Hypocrisy on State Taxes


This news article about changes to NC's film industry tax credit program not only highlights the obvious, but illustrates how ridiculous progressive liberals sound when they  try to argue against tax cuts.

First, the obvious. Without special tax breaks, there will be less investment in the film industry in NC. As stated by HBO series "Homeland" producer Alex Gansa in 2013: “I don’t think we would have been here if there hadn’t been tax breaks, and I believe if the tax breaks end, we’ll have to pick up and find another place to shoot.”

“I just feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me,” said Karl Golden, 50, who was a location scout for “Homeland” and now is a van driver for “Banshee.” He predicts the makers of the Cinemax show will pick up and move after they wrap this season, and that he’ll “probably file for unemployment if I don’t get the work that I need.”

So when investors see a better rate of return in other states due to a lower tax burden, those investment dollars (and the jobs that go with it) will leave NC for greener pastures. As the old saying goes: the less you tax an activity, the more of that activity there will be (and vice versa).

This must come as shocking news, however, to the liberals at the NC Budget & Tax Center (a project of the Blueprint NC-affiliated NC Justice Center). Just last year, as NC was debating tax reform, they insisted that state taxes don't matter to business investment.

A well-educated, highly productive workforce, access to markets and suppliers, sound infrastructure, and a high quality of life for employees are more important to corporate leaders than state taxes, according to numerous surveys, studies and popular rankings of “business friendly” states.

Hmmm, that's funny. Because I haven't once heard a film industry spokesperson or worker say they would stop filming in NC due to changes in the workforce, infrastructure or quality of life. Nope. Just the tax burden. I guess those "numerous surveys" didn't include film industry execs.

Of course, many progressive liberals are now lobbying to re-instate the film industry tax credits by warning us that investment in film production will go to other state's where the tax treatment is more favorable; apparently all the while completely oblivious to their self-contradiction to earlier proclamations that state taxes don't matter to investment decisions.