Civitas Review

UNC Board of Governors to Review Research Centers and Institutes


Per the N&O:

The UNC Board of Governors has launched a review of the more than 200 centers and institutes housed at North Carolina’s public universities.

UNC board members said there is no immediate plan to eliminate or cut any of the largely research-focused institutes, which brought in $556 million in federal grants and other external funding in 2013-14.


There are 237 centers and institutes across the UNC system, with most at the largest research campuses. UNC-Chapel Hill has 80 and N.C. State University has 48. Of the 237, 116 receive state appropriations totaling $68.9 million; 41 others receive some type of support from the state, totaling $14 million. Eighty receive no state support.

This year's state budget included instructions to the UNC system to consider redirecting some of the funding for these centers to other purposes. Civitas has written in the past about these UNC centers and how many of them could be considered duplicative or highly politically partisan in nature.

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You Lose If Mudcats Grab $1.5M Scoreboard


baseball scene

Once the game was enough for baseball fans. Now the Mudcats say a new scoreboard is needed.

What would you say to an investment adviser who said, “I want you to invest some money in a failing enterprise”? Especially if she added, “You’ve already put a bunch of money into this, so you’ve got to put in more to keep from losing all of it!” You’d fire her on the spot.

Or, worse, what if a thief grabbed your wallet? Would you think it any excuse if he said your money would pay for putting on a show other people would enjoy?

Sadly, that’s what going on right now in Wake County. According to the News & Observer, the Wake County commissioners are planning to spend $1.5 million for a new scoreboard at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, where the Carolina Mudcats play — and sell tickets, hot dogs and more.

I’m so old that I can remember when the best way to draw fans was for the home team to put more runs on the scoreboard. But times change. Mere baseball isn’t enough. Without a glitzy new scoreboard, the ball club says, fans will stay away in droves.

The team says it can’t afford to pay for a scoreboard itself. Mmm. So the Mudcats are such a failure they can’t afford to pay for a basic part of their facility? That’s not much of a sales pitch.

But if the new scoreboard will succeed in drawing more paying customers, why can’t they pay for it? Why should money be taken from people who don’t go to the games so that Mudcats fans will have something to entertain them when the action on the field slows up?

Yet news account says the Mudcats will pull in more than $140,000 in ad revenue every year from the scoreboard. Why should the Mudcats get such help, while the county lets Joe’s Hot Dog Stand and Mary’s Gift Shop struggle along on their own?

If you're keeping score at home, this is one more example of why crony capitalism is both foolish and wrong.

Waste of the Week: Taxpayer-Funded Museum for Banjo Player


In the second installment of the Civitas Institute's new feature entitled "Waste of the Week," we spotlight the new Earle Scruggs Center, a museum dedicated to the deceased banjo player that received $250,000 in taxpayer dollars in this year's budget.

The funds were directed to the Scruggs Center via a “state aid” appropriation from the Commerce Department. After months of negotiations and haggling over big-ticket items like teacher pay and Medicaid, state budget writers decided that a quarter-million taxpayer dollars should be instead redirected to a museum dedicated to a banjo player.

The museum reportedly cost $6.2 million and is housed in the restored Cleveland County Courthouse. It had its grand opening in January of this year.

Attractions such as these should be funded voluntarily, not through taxpayer dollars that are collected through the threat of force.

Or do you think state budget writers should continue to divert tax dollars to the museum in the future?

Experts: common core math standards bad for students and nation


Common Core math standards will lead to elimination of higher level high school math courses and contribute to a dumming-down of college math. Those are the findings of a new study by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute. The study authored by Professor James Milgram, emeritus Professor of Math at Stanford University and formerly a member of the Common Core Math Standards validation Committee and Richard Phelps, an expert on testing and assessment, is another fact-based hard-hitting critique of the expected damage from implementing Common Core math standards.

Worried about a Re-Brand of Standards in North Carolina?

See what Dr. James Milgram has to say  on  about Re-branding Common Core Standards in Indiana.

Want to know more about Common Core in North Carolina?  Visit StopCommonCoreNC

If I Were in Charge of the Special Session


More groups keep coming out urging Gov. McCrory to call a special legislative session to expand corporate welfare programs, along with extending targeted tax credits, especially the credits for the film industry set to expire at the end of this year.

Previously, I've expressed opposition to such a special session, but now I've realized this could be a golden opportunity for Gov. McCrory and legislative leaders to make a bold statement and take a huge step forward in the pursuit of economic growth.

I now encourage the Governor and legislators to convene a special session to address the topic of government subsidies and targeted tax credits, but in a far more economically beneficial – and fair – manner.

If I had my way, here is the joint statement Gov. McCrory and legislative leaders would put out to clarify their stance on these issues:

"We are calling a special legislative session in order to create a more competitive, and fair, economic climate in North Carolina. The result would be more jobs, greater economic growth, and the elimination of cronyism and political manipulations of the economy.

First, we recognize that government handouts to specific corporations is simply wrong. It is inappropriate and unacceptable for the government to use its force to coerce tax dollars from hard-working citizens only to dole those tax dollars out to politically-favored companies who have the most lobbyists roaming the halls of the legislature. Not only does this provide an unfair competitive advantage to the subsidized companies, forcing other companies to downsize or go out of business, it also invites a culture of political corruption with corporations jockeying for a spot at the taxpayer trough. In this special session, we will introduce legislation to eliminate all taxpayer subsidy programs that involve taxpayer dollars being given to companies.

Secondly, we agree with advocates from the film industry that lower taxes stimulate more investment and job growth. Jobs do indeed "evaporate" and industries are "put in jeopardy"  when tax burdens are higher in NC than they are elsewhere. With that in mind, we will also be proposing in this special session legislation that will extend the film tax credits indefinitely, but more importantly, will apply these tax credits to all business investment. If the film industry thrives due to the lowered tax burden resulting from the tax credits, imagine how many other industries will thrive in North Carolina if all businesses could take advantage of the tax credits that have enticed so much film production investment.

Indeed, our legislative staff has combed the state tax laws to identify all tax credits and exemptions applied to targeted businesses or industries. Included in this legislation will be a mandate extending and applying equally every single one of these tax credits and exemptions to all companies doing business in North Carolina. This not only will generate tremendous economic and job growth, but is the only fair way to tax businesses. After all, what is more fair than taxing all businesses and economic activity equally? Even advocates of "social justice" must agree to that standard.

We look forward to returning to Raleigh and passing legislation that will make North Carolina one of the most economically competitive states in the nation."

Who would be on board?

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