Dan E. Way

Associate Editor

Posts by Dan E. Way (page 3)

  • NCICL memo shows North Carolina among many states with judicial intervention laws

    It chafes at those of us who have toiled in the ink pits our whole career to witness the accuracy bar lowered, if not missing all together, in reporting. It is especially grating when substandard work cements social mind sets and casts political narratives in stone. An example of rush-to-judgment…
    Dan E. Way, August 1, 2013
  • Senate to vote on limiting debt not approved by voters

    The Senate is scheduled to vote today on a bill returning a great deal of financial self-governance to the voters. Senate Bill 129 passed the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday afternoon and moved immediately to the floor calendar. Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, ushered the bill through committee with some compelling numbers supporting the measure. “This is an act to limit the issuance of debt under the State Capital Facilities Finance Act,” which sets up “special indebtedness” mechanisms that allow the state to assume debt by raising taxes without a vote being put before the voters in the form of a ballot referendum, Tucker said. Special indebtedness includes certificates of participation (COPS), but that acronym has come to generally be understood as including all types of non-voter approved debt – lease purchase revenue bonds and limited obligation bonds being the other types. Special indebtedness is activated “to hastily receive money when you have major capital projects within the state,” Tucker said. It normally is used for “worthy causes, prisons, and schools, and primarily the university system.” At present, special indebtedness is equivalent to 40 percent of the state’s general fund debt. The bill prohibits any further debt being incurred through special indebtedness until that debt level is reduced to 25 percent or below of the general fund debt. “Up until 2001 the state had never issued any COPS in the history of the state, and then from 2001 on up until roughly 2009 we issued about $3 billion worth of COPS,” Tucker said. “This was done without people knowing it. We incurred $3 billion in debt over the last decade without voter approval,” Tucker said.
    Dan E. Way, May 1, 2013
  • Objecting to Obama’s education budget

    As details continue to emerge about the Obama administration’s 2014 education budget proposal, Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, continues to find more to dislike. In fact, McCluskey says from just a cursory review of the most recent developments “there seems to be…
    Dan E. Way, April 10, 2013
  • Lumberton official touts help-yourself strategy

    Gov. Pat McCrory heard a lot of requests for help from local officials on Wednesday when he met with the North Carolina League of Municipalities. The organization had 500 members present in Raleigh during the organization’s Town Hall Day, which included visits to the House and Senate. But what stood out in sharp relief to the expected solicitations for assistance from local government folks was a roll-your-sleeves-up speech from Lumberton City Councilman Don Metzger. “I am thrilled by your initiatives and what you’re proposing to do,” Metzger told McCrory after the governor broadly outlined a variety of strategy plans that he’s working on. But Metzger said municipalities need to take stock of themselves and get on with a self-help approach instead of waiting for Raleigh to deliver answers. “We need to look inward,” Metzger said. “How can we leverage what we have to better accomplish what we want to do?” By the time Metzger was finished touting a long do-it-yourself list of Lumberton initiatives, McCrory gushed, “I’m about to hire you at the Department of Commerce right now.”
    Dan E. Way, March 28, 2013
  • Rucho delays airport vote to get bond answers

    True to his word, state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, has pulled SB81 from the Senate calendar today. The bill would transfer operation and ownership of all assets of Charlotte-owned Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to a newly created, multi-county authority. It had been approved by both the Rules and Operations of the…
    Dan E. Way, February 28, 2013
  • McCrory: No Medicaid expansion till vast fiscal woes fixed

    North Carolina’s Medicaid program is in a major state of disarray, potentially violating state statutes and General Assembly directives, while costing taxpayers “hundreds of millions of dollars,” a state audit revealed. Gov. Pat McCrory said the fiscal and operational calamity reinforces his belief Medicaid rolls should not be expanded under…
    Dan E. Way, January 31, 2013
  • Transit-friendly group opposes Orange transit tax

    A politically influential, grassroots organization in Orange County that supports mass transit is launching a last-minute effort to convince voters to reject a half-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot Nov. 6 to fund a Triangle Transit plan that features a light-rail corridor. "The group wants voters to recognize that if the tax increase goes forward, it authorizes a plan that over-emphasizes light rail transit (LRT) at the expense of a frequent, reliable transit system that truly serves the towns and the county," a news release from Orange County Voice stated. The transit plan, featuring rapid transit buses, light rail and commuter rail, originated as a three-county initiative. Durham County voters approved a half-cent tax last year. The Orange County Board of Commissioners voted in early June to put the issue before voters. But the Wake County Board of Commissioners has not moved the tax issue to the ballot. Orange County Voice believes the transit plan needs to be redrawn with more bus routes in Orange County. As I reported previously for Carolina Journal, the transit plan divided the Orange County Board of Commissioners. The high-cost light rail benefits residents in the urban south of the county, while residents of the rural west and north sections of the county get a modicum of new bus service. Some Orange commissioners opposed the transit plan because it wasn't even completed at the time of the vote to put it on the ballot. Orange County Voice said that rush job is part of the reason they don't believe voters have had enough time to review the plan. It was completed shortly before early voting started. The Orange County Voice release can be seen below.
    Dan E. Way, November 2, 2012
  • North Carolina tax climate among worst in U.S.

    It is difficult to argue, with a straight face and without crossing fingers behind your back, that the tax climate in North Carolina is not a stumbling block to economic improvement. As the election season flows with gathering speed towards its Nov. 6 conclusion in the General Election, that argument is heard more loudly, and with greater urgency, from candidates who champion more free market and less government hindrance (sometimes called government help by those on the left). Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, for example, during his first debate with Democrat Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton last Wednesday, said “the best incentive for new jobs in North Carolina" is to avoid leading the pack in the Southeast with high sales, corporate and income taxes. But the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, just released its 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index,  and it shows North Carolina isn't just shooting itself in the foot with tax policies that hamper its competitiveness, but anchors the state firmly in the Somber Seven at the bottom of the heap -- 44th worst of the 50 states. The state's ranking remained unchanged from the 2012 list. North Carolina has managed to tumble well below every other state in the  Southeast, and the authors of the study tell why that is a crucial, but alarming, development.
    Dan E. Way, October 9, 2012