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Appeals Court Releases Voucher Money For Low-Income Students

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on the positive development today regarding the Opportunity Scholarship program.

The N.C. Court of Appeals will allow nearly 1,900 students to get vouchers for the current school year while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the fledgling Opportunity Scholarships is on appeal.

The appeals court on Friday issued an order putting on hold a separate ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood halting all disbursements of funds for the program after he declared the Opportunity Scholarships program unconstitutional.

The appeals court’s order releases scholarship funding for 1,878 applicants who accepted Opportunity Scholarships as of Aug. 21. That means those students will be allowed to receive up to $4,200 each in vouchers from the state to pay toward their tuition at a private school.

The rest of Hobgood’s order on the distribution of any other funds remains in effect, the appeals court order says.

The entire story can be found here. 

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Thursday In Raleigh: Join JLF For ‘Rockin The Wall’

Join JLF next Thursday, September 25 at 7 p.m. at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

It’s a free event and is open to the public.

Rockin’ the Wall is both an engaging history lesson about the Berlin Wall and life behind the Iron Curtain, and an entertaining exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change and liberation. View the film trailer here. 

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“But it is clearly not a cut.”

As we all know, when you say something over and over and over, people come to believe it is fact. That’s what’s happening with the Left’s claim of a $500 million “cut” to education spending in our state. If you’re a political advocate who simply wants your guy/gal to prevail by making people believe something is fact, you won’t care about the details behind the $500 million so-called ‘cut.” But for those of us who still believe that facts matter, read on for an explanation from JLF’s Terry Stoops. 

Total state education funding increased by around $1 billion, or 14, percent over the last four years, but that does not address the issue of inflation and enrollment changes. Any funding increase would have to take into account North Carolina’s growing student population. That is why an inflation-adjusted per-student figure is preferable.

We found that inflation-adjusted, state per-pupil funding increased by 3 percent over the last four years. Federal and local K-12 funding fluctuated during this period, so the total per-student funding figure may have exceeded or fallen short of this statewide average. Nevertheless, Tillis has no control over federal and local funding, so it is not directly relevant to the claims disseminated by those who are spending big money on Hagan’s behalf.

Obviously there will be some who complain that a 3 percent increase is insufficient. Perhaps it is. But it is clearly not a cut.


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Do You Know Where This $2.5 Billion Is Going?

The UNC system represents a huge chunk of the state’s General Fund budget — close to 12%, or $2.5 billion. I talked about the UNC system budget with Jenna Ashley Robinson of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. She offered some specific ideas for ways to pare back the UNC budget.

Martinez: You’ve written … about your recommendations for where they could actually look for some savings. Let’s talk about some of those. The first one, you say, is that they’ve got some unnecessary administrators. Ouch. Tell us about that.

Robinson: Many of the schools — and this is by no means all of them — but particularly the large schools have far, far too many administrators. All the schools have more administrators than faculty members, and I think that’ll surprise a lot of people. They think that the primary employees at a university are the faculty members. But if you add up the clerical, professional, and paraprofessional staff — so this is not including the dining hall staff and things like that, these are administrators — if you add up all the administrators, they outnumber the faculty. And at UNC-Chapel Hill, they actually outnumber the faculty 5-1. And if you’re doing your math, that’s one administrator for every four students.

Martinez: Is it like that on every campus?

Robinson: UNC-Chapel Hill is the worst offender, but none of them, as I said, have fewer administrators than faculty members.

Martinez: So you’re recommending that they take a look at that and maybe move some people around or say, “Well, we don’t need quite as many.”

Robinson: Absolutely.

Martinez: What about the faculty, Jenna? We tend to think, at least I do, that there are professors who are just in classrooms all day long, and the kids are coming in and out, and what they do is teach all day. What is that load really like?

Robinson: There are some schools where that’s the case. They are teaching three or four classes per semester. But at our large research universities, sometimes they’re not even teaching two classes per semester. So in those situations, we think that it would be better for faculty members, tenure-track faculty members, to teach more and to use adjunct faculty less. Obviously if you use a faculty member to teach a course and don’t have to employ an adjunct, that saves the university money. But it’s also a benefit for the students, who, when they go to schools, they look at those student-faculty ratios. They want and expect to have a faculty member in the class with them.

Martinez: Is that typical on university campuses across the country, that faculty is really teaching so few classes?

Robinson: There’s a lot [of] variation, but at large research universities like N.C. State and Chapel Hill and their peer institutions, it’s very common that faculty spend less than 40 percent of their time in the classroom.

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Can’t We All Agree This Isn’t Fair?

Progressives love to talk about fairness as they champion bigger and more muscular government presence in our lives, mandating and regulating more and more of what we do. But will progressives agree that taxing someone twice is unfair? They should.

The concept of being fair with tax policy is just one reason JLF’s Roy Cordato is advocating that state lawmakers continue the positive economic momentum of their 2013 tax reform package by reducing or repealing the state’s tax on capital gains. The current system contains a tax bias — unfairness — against savings, investment, and entrepreneurship. Cordato explains how a change to the capital gains tax structure would help address that bias. 

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Lt. Gov. Forest Launches License Plate Benefitting New Education Endowment

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s office issued the following news release on Wednesday.



Lt. Governor Dan Forest on Statewide Media Tour Thursday
STATEWIDE—Lt. Governor Dan Forest, joined by elected officials and leaders, will be making a press tour on Thursday, September 18th in the Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte areas to launch “I Support Teachers” specialty license plates benefitting the North Carolina Education Endowment.
WHO: Lt. Governor Dan Forest and other elected officials and leaders

WHAT: Media availabilities in Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte areas to launch “I Support Teachers” specialty license plates benefitting the North Carolina Education Endowment


8:00 AM RALEIGH—Office of Lt. Governor, Hawkins-Hartness House
310 N. Blount Street, Raleigh, NC, 27601

11:00 AM GREENSBORO—West Greensboro DMV
2391 Colosseum Boulevard, Greensboro, NC, 27403

2:00 PM CHARLOTTE—Huntersville DMV
12101 Mount Holly- Huntersville Rd, Huntersville, NC, 27078

MEDIA: This event is OPEN to all public and all media.

For media inquiries, please contact Kami Mueller at kami@danforest.com or by phone 765-215-1334.


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Why Bother Competing For Customers When You Can Use Government To Keep The Competition Out

You can always spot the person who is afraid to compete. They spend their time trying to eliminate the competition rather than improving their product or skills.

Here’s a recent example involving taxicab operators in Milwaukee who have tried to prevent the city from lifting the arbitrary cap on taxi licenses. The Institute for Justice stepped in and is working the case. Here is part of IJ’s news release, which was posted to the group’s website last week.

Milwaukee, Wis.— Today federal district judge Lynn Adelman ruled that the city of Milwaukee’s recent decision to lift the 22-year old cap on the number of taxicabs could go forward as planned.

“The owner’s lawsuit was always a last-ditch attempt to preserve their monopoly in Milwaukee,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Anthony Sanders. “The owners’ eleventh hour attempt to keep their cartel in place has failed. With today’s ruling, we’re one step closer to bringing the city’s public transportation system into the twenty-first century.”

The judge denied an attempt by some existing taxi owners, including the biggest, Joe Sanfelippo Cabs, Inc., to stop the city from issuing new licenses. The judge pointed to the prior ruling, on April 16, 2013, by Judge Jane Carroll of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court declaring the former cap to be unconstitutional under the Wisconsin Constitution, as a sufficient justification for the city liberating its drivers and consumers from the cap.

In his analysis Judge Adelman also found that it would be against the public interest to prevent the city from issuing more taxicab permits. He stated “prior to the new ordinance, there was a substantial demand for taxicab permits which were capped at a number lower than in 1992. It is not in the public interest for qualified individuals who seek such permits not to be able to obtain them.”

The same dynamic is at play amid North Carolina’s web of licensing rules and boards. JLF’s Jon Sanders has written extensively about the use of occupational licensing to keep competitors out of the way. Here’s some of what Sanders wrote in a report issued in 2013.

North Carolina features more than 50 occupational licensing boards, Sanders said. “The state licenses more occupations than most other states,” he said. “A recent report ranked North Carolina in a tie with Massachusetts at No. 15 in the nation for most licensed job categories at 154. Among neighboring states, only Tennessee licenses more. Virginia licenses half as many jobs as North Carolina, and crossing the border from North to South Carolina reduces licensed occupations by two-thirds.”

Researchers also find that North Carolina is “one of the more aggressive states” in licensing occupations that often employ the poor or less educated, Sanders said. “This state licenses 48 of 102 lower-income occupations highlighted in a recent study,” he said. “Such occupations are ideal entry points into the job market, and their importance to a state’s economy is not insignificant.”

An occupational license is a “grant of permission” from the government to an individual to enter the field of work he desires, Sanders explained. The supposed purpose is to ensure safety and quality. “Research is mixed over whether licensing actually has a positive effect on safety or quality.”

“In practice, occupational licensing tends to be motivated more to protect current members of a profession from competition and thereby make them wealthier,” Sanders added. “One study suggests licensing boosts earnings for current practitioners by 15 percent. In higher-wage licensed occupations, the wage premium can reach as high as 30 percent. Instead of being a case of the state versus the professionals, licensing actually helps the two sides work in concert against the interests of new competitors and consumers.”



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“An ongoing shift away from labor and towards machinery will accelerate if the minimum wage is increased.”

There is little mystery about the economic impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hours, and President Obama and like-minded liberals want. The latest Duke University survey of CFOs tells the stark tale of how business will respond. Here are a couple of key facts from the news release.

Few affected firms would lay off current employees if the minimum wage is increased to $8.75 but 46 percent would lay off employees at $15.

• Future employment growth would be curtailed at 35 percent of affected firms if the wage were set at $8.75, while two-thirds would curtail future hiring at $15.

• Nearly 20 percent of affected firms would reduce employee benefits or increase product prices if the minimum wage were increased to $8.75; approximately half would do both at $15.

• About 30 percent of affected companies think their ability to attract higher quality workers and reduce turnover would improve if the minimum wage were increased to $10, while about 40 percent feel the same at $15.

• In general, firms indicate they could reasonably accommodate a modest hike in the minimum wage to $8.75 but substantial negative consequences would kick in as the wage approaches $10.

• An ongoing shift away from labor and towards machinery will accelerate if the minimum wage is increased.

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Federal Inspectors General Say Congressional Focus Is Wrong

From Federal News Radio:

Lawmakers doubled down on requirements that IGs review agency conference spending and the use of purchase and travel cards following the 2012 conference scandal at the General Services Administration. Many IGs don’t think the mandated audits are a smart use of their time, according to the survey.

“The effort required to address these issues in the manner prescribed by law was disproportionate to the actual risk,” many IGs said in the report.

They also said they spent too much time auditing improper payments, considering the risk was relatively low.

Instead, IGs said they want more flexibility to go after problems particular to their respective agencies.

The survey authors suggest Congress review all of the requirements it imposes on federal inspectors general.

Evidently we have reached the point where we are spending is so astronomical that catching violations — like those we saw over the past several years with outrageous conference spending — isn’t worth the time and resources of the IG if it’s not a multimillion-dollar scandal.

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Years after the fact, the N&O tells the truth about the Wake school board election

Once again, Wake County parents are having to worry about student reassignments. The News & Observer reports today on that rather unsurprising development.

Buried within the story is this nugget:

As a fast-growing district of 155,000 students, Wake County historically has reassigned thousands of students each year. In the mid- to late-2000s, high rates of growth led to mass reassignments and mandatory year-round schools, with unprecedented levels of opposition from the burgeoning suburbs that resulted in a 2009 change in board leadership.

Just like that. Mass reassignments and mandatory year-round schools upset people so much that they voted out the board leadership. Just as people were saying back then.

At the time, however, the N&O and the Angry Left were determined to smear the voters as white-hooded racists and resegregationists. It was a disgusting campaign to delegitimize the new board leadership. It destroyed reputations, needlessly inflamed county residents, inspired completely ignorant national outcry, and worked.

The new school board is now As It Should Be, thoroughly dominated by Democrats infused with the Proper Disregard for Parents’ Concerns and insulated by the smug expectation that no self-respecting outsiders who care about their families and reputations would ever risk a political challenge against the board again.

Never forget; to the education establishment, kids exist to serve the schools. That is why it was “moral” to lie about parents and their concerns back then, and that is why it is “moral” to celebrate taking Opportunity Scholarships away from the poorest kids to keep them from escaping their one option in education.

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