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Power First, Parents Second

North Carolina’s Big Education monopoly is used to having all the power and control over parents and taxpayers — and the system and its liberal allies are fighting hard to keep every ounce of it. They’ve even gone so far as to file a lawsuit to prevent low-income North Carolina families from accessing an opportunity scholarship, passed by the General Assembly, that will allow them to choose a private school that better suits their needs. This development — this choice —  is an incredible threat to North Carolina’s Big Education monopoly, which places power and control ahead of parental choice. JLF’s John Hood weighs in on the issue in this column.

In virtually no other area of public policy are recipients of a government-funded service forbidden from choosing providers that best meet their needs. No one tells Medicare patients what hospitals they must visit. No one tells food-stamp recipients where they must shop. In education, both federal and state governments provide financial assistance to children who attend child care centers and preschools, as well as to students who attend colleges and universities. Their families are free to choose from among public and private providers of these educational services, with nary a peep out of the usual left-wing suspects.

What makes elementary and secondary education a proper exception to this rule? Nothing. The only distinction is that district-run public schools have until recently enjoyed a monopoly. They simply don’t want to give it up.

It was no surprise that the North Carolina Association of Educators and other groups filed suit to block implementation of the new voucher program for the 2014-15 school year. They worry that once thousands of low-income children are enrolled in schools of choice, it will be practically difficult and politically disastrous to strip them of their choice later on.

Yes, once parents realize they can CHOOSE which school is a good fit for their child, they will begin to wonder why Big Education doesn’t want them to have it.

The fact is, the traditional public school classroom works fine for some North Carolina children. Parents who want their kids in a traditional public school should be able to make that choice. But for those who want and/or need something different, other choices should be available — particularly the choices that are now only available to more prosperous households.

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“it’s about North Carolinians keeping more of their hard-earned money”

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports here on Tuesday’s news conference about the impact of tax reform passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.

Gov. Pat McCrory used the deadline for filing income tax returns to tout the historic tax reform package that he signed into law last year.

“Ultimately, it’s about North Carolinians keeping more of their hard-earned money for their paychecks, so they can buy, save, and invest more for their families,” McCrory said during a Tuesday news conference at the Doubletree Brownstone Inn in Raleigh sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. 

McCrory, a Republican, was joined by state Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, John Locke Foundation President John Hood, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses Gregg Thompson, and Jonathan Williams, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform.

“It’s about providing tax stability for business owners, so they can grow and put more people to work building North Carolina’s economy,” McCrory said.

So exactly what is at the heart of the reform?

The highlights of the tax reform package included establishing a flat rate for personal income tax. That rate dropped to 5.8 percent on Jan. 1 and will drop to 5.75 percent in 2015 and thereafter. Previously, the tax rate ranged from 6 percent to 7.75 percent, depending on income.

The corporate tax rate, which was at 6.9 percent, dropped to 6 percent at the beginning of the year. It will drop to 5 percent next year, and decrease further if certain tax collection triggers are met.


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Sowell: Gender Pay Gap Argument Based In “statistical fraud”

The Hoover Institution’s Thomas Sowell takes no prisoners in his column about the “gender pay gap.”

It is a statistical fraud when President Obama and other politicians say that women earn only 77 percent of what men earn — and that this is because of discrimination.

It would certainly be discrimination if women were doing the same work as men, for the same number of hours, with the same amount of training and experience, as well as other things being the same. But study after study, over the past several decades, has shown repeatedly that those things are not the same.

What should you know about differences in pay?

Although comparing women and men who are in fact comparable is not easy to do, when you look at women and men who are similar on multiple factors, the sex differential in pay shrinks drastically and gets close to the vanishing point. In some categories, women earn more than men with the same range of characteristics.

If the 77 percent statistic was for real, employers would be paying 30 percent more than they had to, every time they hired a man to do a job that a woman could do just as well. Would employers be such fools with their own money? If you think employers don’t care about paying 30 percent more than they have to, just go ask your boss for a 30 percent raise!

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A Big Win For Fiscal Conservatives

Scouring 681 peer-reviewed academic journal articles published since 1990, John Locke Foundation President John Hood reaches a clear conclusion: The research supports fiscal conservatives’ preferred state and local policies for boosting economic growth.

Hood offers details in a new report and in this video clip. 

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Are You Getting A Good Return On Your Tax Investment?

Today is deadline day to file income tax returns, which makes it a perfect day to ponder this question: Do you believe you’re getting a good return on your investment in government?

Meantime, JLF’s Sarah Curry looks at the dollars for us, and how long it takes us to pay our tax debt.

According to the Tax Foundation, North Carolina taxpayers experienced their Tax Freedom Day this Monday, April 14, four days later than last year. Here are the corresponding Tax Freedom Days for our neighboring states:

  • Tennessee, April 5
  • South Carolina, April 9
  • Georgia, April 12
  • Virginia, April 24

The total tax burden imposed on residents of different states varies considerably. The federal tax system is progressive, meaning the more you earn, the more you pay. States also have their own tax policies, which tax people at different rates and on different sources of income. These two factors are the main reasons why the Tax Freedom Day varies from state to state. For 2014, Connecticut and New Jersey have the latest dates of May 9, and Louisiana residents enjoyed the earliest Tax Freedom Day on March 30.

Thankfully, here in North Carolina, the Republican legislature and governor have passed tax reform, which flattens and reduces our taxes. We owe  the fiscal conservatives a big thank you.


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Leef: “The problem is that universities cave in to such pressure at all.”

Writing at popecenter.org, George Leef gives his take on the assault on free speech taking place on college campuses. The most recent incident, of course, occurred at Brandeis, which rescinded an honorary degree and speaking invitation to Ayann Hirsi Ali.

The real problem here, however, is not the double standards. The problem is that universities cave in to such pressure at all. Universities above all other institutions should stand up for the idea that it’s wrong to censor anyone or stifle debate, no matter who is offended and how many claim to be outraged. Educational leaders should say, “If you think you’ll disagree with someone, first hear what he or she has to say, then make the best counter-arguments you can.” That should be the universally applicable ground rule for education.

Unfortunately, that rule has suffered terrible erosion, just as the rule of law itself has. Political interest groups often succeed in getting officials to waive laws on their behalf and similarly they often succeed in getting university leaders to waive the rules of free speech to silence those with whom they disagree.

That regrettable tendency is the focal point of an excellent book by Greg Lukianoff, Unlearning Liberty, now in its second edition. Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is precisely on target when he writes, “For decades, our universities have been teaching students that speech with a chance of offending someone should immediately be silenced….” Brandeis has just reinforced that lesson.


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The Price Of The Dependency Culture

Reality bites. From Harvard University’s Institute of Politics comes more dire news about what is ahead for America unless we get serious about reforming the massive dependency culture that’s been created. For example:

The news isn’t much better on the Social Security front: “Without reform, Social Security beneficiaries will face a 23 percent benefit cut in 2033. By 2087, beneficiaries will receive 28 percent less than calculated under the current benefit formula.”

Unfortunately, the Left is very successful at demonizing anyone who seeks to face this reality. Recall what happened to then President Bush when he proposed a tiny slice of reform. He was cast as having no heart. His reform were even opposed by some in his own party. So here we are nearly a decade later. The massive promises continue and the dependency culture continues to grow.



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Office Of Special Counsel: IRS Employee Admits Campaigning For Democrats While On Duty

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has issued a news release about its investigation into IRS employees who were alleged to have campaigned for Democrats while on the job.

The instances include this one:

A tax advisory specialist in Kentucky will serve a 14-day suspension for promoting her partisan political views to a taxpayer she was assisting during the 2012 Presidential election season. OSC received a recorded conversation in which the employee told a taxpayer she was “for” the Democrats because “Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and . . . they’re going to take women back 40 years.” She continued to explain that her mom always said, “‘If you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer.’ And I went, ‘You’re right.’ I found that out.” The employee’s supervisor had advised her about the Hatch Act’s restrictions just weeks before the conversation. The employee told the taxpayer, “I’m not supposed to voice my opinion, so you didn’t hear me saying that.” Following OSC’s investigation, the employee entered into a settlement agreement with OSC in April 2014. In the agreement, she admitted to violating the Hatch Act’s restrictions against engaging in political activity while on duty and in the workplace and using her official authority or influence to affect the result of an election.

This was done on the taxpayer dime.

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Monday At JLF: Duke Scholar Chris Conover Discusses Health Care Policy

Join us Monday at 12 Noon at JLF in downtown Raleigh for a discussion of health care policy with a renowned Duke scholar, Chris Conover.

Shaftesbury attendees are in for a rare treat as we have lunch with one of the nation’s top health care policy experts–Dr. Chris Conover.

Dr.Conover is a Research Scholar in the the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University, an adjunct scholar at AEI, and a Mercatus-affiliated senior scholar. 

Dr. Conover has taught in the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, the Duke School of Medicine and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. 

His research interests are in the area of health regulation and state health policy, with a focus on issues related to health care for the medically indigent (including the uninsured), and estimating the magnitude of the social burden of illness. 

He is the recent author of The American Health Economy Illustrated and is a Forbes contributor at The Health Policy Skeptic.

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Meet Charlene: The Face Of Liberals’ Legal Assault On Education Opportunity For Poor Kids

Meet Charlene Woods, who is raising her 5-year-old grandson, who is in kindergarten. She wants the best for this little boy and she is doing everything she can to provide it.

She applied to North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship program for low-income families.

Charlene is one of the North Carolinians whose opportunity is being taken away, thanks to the shameful legal assault by liberals in our state on the Opportunity Scholarship program.

The truth is, liberals are seeking to prevent Charlene from accessing the same educational opportunity for her grandson as a wealthy grandmother can access for hers.

Say a prayer for Charlene and her grandson.

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