Head of Vermont free-market think tank notes a recent N.C. acquisition

Think North Carolina’s pro-growth, market-oriented policies have little impact? Don’t tell Robert Roper, president of Vermont’s Ethan Allen Institute.

He submits the following:

Seven Days reporter votes with his feet – for red state North Carolina

Vermont’s leading progressive news publication, Seven Days, reported that one of their award-winning young journalists, Taylor Dobbs, “is moving to North Carolina with his wife, Tori, after years of trying to make it financially in Vermont.” Oh, the irony here…. And perhaps a teachable moment.

It’s safe to say Dobbs’ political proclivities incline toward the Left, and he embraces the Seven Days progressive culture. The paper and its writers have done their best to advance a progressive agenda for Vermont, and, credit where it’s due, have succeeded mightily. Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, all the statewide offices except governor, and Progressives rule the roost in Burlington where Seven Days is based. In fact, Dobbs and his colleagues have been so successful that young professionals like himself and his wife can no longer afford to live here and pursue a meaningful career. Good job!

But here’s the real kicker. Where is Dobbs going to flee these oppressive Progressive policies he helped advance to find greater opportunity and a sane cost of living? North Carolina. What’s so attractive about North Carolina? Here’s a summary of the Tar Heel State’s recent political and policy history over the past decade.

Republicans took control of North Carolina’s legislature in 2010 for the first time in 140 years. Two years later, they established supermajorities in both chambers and elected a Republican Governor, Pat McCrory. These Republicans then enacted a dramatic package of tax and regulatory reform. Here’s a summary of what they passed in 2013 (Source, ATR).

Individual Income Tax

  • Flatten and lower rate from 7.75 percent, the highest in the South, to a 5.75 percent by 2015;
  • Increase standard deduction to $7,500 (for singles);
  • Allow full deductibility of charitable contributions;
  • Fully exempt Social Security income from state income tax;
  • Allow for certain itemized deductions (total of mortgage interest and property taxes paid would be capped at $20k); and
  • Retain current child credit of $100 for those earning $40k and increase credit to $125 for those earning under $40k.

Corporate Income Tax

  • Reduce rate from 6.9 percent to 5 percent by 2015;
  • If certain revenue targets are met, rate would decrease to 4 percent in 2016 and 3 percent in 2017.

Other Changes

  • Retain full sales tax refund for nonprofits;
  • Cap gasoline tax; and
  • Fully repeal estate tax

These reforms, and those that followed, have led to what has been described as an “economic miracle”.

A recent study measuring six areas of economic growth (growth in real (inflation-adjusted) GDP, employment, real GDP per capita, real personal income per capita, employment per capita, and worker productivity), showed that between 2014-17, the period after the NCGOP tax cuts and economic reforms kicked in, North Carolina’s economy outperformed the nation and the Southeast in all six categories. Vermont policy makers would do well to take note.

North Carolina is doing so well that a progressive journalist from Montpelier is moving his family there – and out of Bernie’s Vermont — for a better life. Good luck, Taylor. Don’t screw up your adopted state like you did your home state!

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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