Civitas Review

State Senate Questions Corporate Welfare Program

Feb
26

HB 117 , known as the NC Competes Act, would, among other things, significantly increase the amount of taxpayer dollars in the state's Job Development Investment Grant Fund (JDIG).

Yesterday, a Senate Finance Committee put the program under some scrutiny, perhaps signaling some opposition to bill should it be approved by the House and move to the Senate. According to The Insider, a subscription-based state politics news service:

Senate Republicans asked pointed questions Wednesday about the effectiveness of the state's flagship economic development program, the Job Development Investment Grant, which Gov. Pat McCrory and a House bill seek to replenish with more taxpayer funding. The questions came during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, indicating that the incentives bill might not skate through the Senate. House Bill 117 would raise the cap on JDIG awards to $45 million through the end of 2015, a $15 million increase, as well as modify and extend other economic incentives programs. The state has $25,000 left to award out of $22.5 million available this biennium.

….

(Sen. Bill) Rabon also asked whether there was any way to know whether companies hire local people or bring workers with them from outside the state. JDIG doesn't require that type of reporting, legislative staff said. Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, asked about the success rate of companies that receive JDIG grants. Aubrey Incorvaia of the Fiscal Research Division said 201 JDIG grants have been awarded from 2002 through 2014. Of those, three have gone the full term of the award and 73 have either been terminated or withdrawn, with the rest in various stages of the 12-year agreements.

Another question I'd like to see regarding JDIG and other similar corporate welfare schemes is how many local hires made by the incented company were unemployed versus hired away from another company. That would be another measure to gauge the impact these companies actually have on job creation.

Fiorina Makes Inroads in NH

Feb
25

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is making inroads in the 2016 presidential race, according to this report.

As the Real Clear Politics writer says:

Recent conversations with plugged-in Republicans across [New Hampshire] reveal a consensus that Carly Fiorina—the former Hewlett-Packard CEO—is positioning herself well as a potential dark horse White House contender capable of making a serious run.

She has an inspiring life story most people don't know about. She started as a secretary and became the first woman to head up a Fortune 500 company.

Ms. Fiorina will be speaking at our Conservative Leadership Conference on March 27-28. Click here to learn more and sign up.

WCPSS Rolls Buses and endangers lives?

1
Feb
24

Did the administration of the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), the states largest school district, send buses out this morning knowing that would allow them to avoid a makeup day?

The media reported very quickly that WCPSS might not have to make up today's missed classes as buses were already  rolling when school was canceled.

As a long time critic of WCPSS, and a sometimes cynic, I have to wonder whether the WCPSS administration made the call to roll buses, even as snow was falling, with the knowledge they would not have to make the day up. As the WakeEd blog, linked above, pointed out:

The relevant passage is on page 41 of the state’s School Attendance and Student Accounting Manual, http://bit.ly/1b2N3Zs:

“If school is closed early due to inclement weather, the State Board of Education shall allow the day and the scheduled amount of instructional hours to count toward the required minimum number of days and instructional hours. If school buses are en route to schools when school is canceled for the day, then the day and instructional hours scheduled for that day will count toward the required minimum.”

While it is always a judgement call as to delaying or cancelling classes, sending those buses out this morning actually put drivers and students in danger as conditions deteriorated very quickly.

Much of the problem with WCPSS scheduling and busing problems can be traced back to the sheer physical and student population size of the district. It is so large that it is cumbersome and complicated and decisions have to be made on a countywide basis when conditions can vary greatly in different parts of the county. As many have advocated, dividing WCPSS into zones or even breaking the district up, would go a long way to making the system more manageable for administrators and parents alike.

Hopefully as school choice options increase in North Carolina, there will be fewer students and parents at the mercy of public school bureaucrats.

Taxpayer-Funded Workers Caught Wasting Time

Feb
24

WSOC, channel 9 in Charlotte, investigated some humble public servants to see how they spend their day and our tax dollars. To those of us who understand the difference in incentives between private businesses who rely on voluntary support from customers compared to government entities who acquire their funds through threats of force, this comes as no surprise.

Channel 9 investigated city of Charlotte work crews after seeing a Charlotte water truck parked in a cul-de-sac in a torn-down neighborhood on 24th Street.

It's a vacuum truck used to clear sewers. Channel 9 recorded what appeared to be the same truck parked in the same spot, hidden from view, anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour 10 different days over a month's time. On this day, we followed the vehicle for several hours.

……

12:15 p.m.: They performed the first work of the day that we observed an three hours and 15 minutes after Channel 9 started watching.

…..

A former city worker spent years on a street crew. He said that type of thing happened all the time.

"A lot of guys were sleeping on the job, parking around corners, going to see girlfriends and having intercourse on city time,” said the worker, who asked not to be identified.

He said the bosses had no clue.

“Then put down on paper, they did this and this, and in reality they didn't do a thing,” he said.

We've all seen these news stories before. Every news station in every city across America could do a story like this every week. Waste and inefficiency are rampant at every level of government. Yet liberal progressives and the ruling class insist that it is taxpayers who are greedy when they voice opposition to tax hikes that fund such waste, but politicians and bureaucrats insisting on taking still more from taxpayers are laughably congratulated as wanting to contribute to the "common good." 

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