Back in May, Greg Lacour said in Charlotte Magazine that North Carolina was becoming a petri dish for the American far right. He’s exactly right and now, we know for certain how far they will take us. They did damage but they are not finished. They have not eliminated income taxes and they haven’t made every school a charter school. But they’ve made the first steps.
They have shifted the tax burden from the wealthy and businesses to the middle-class and poor folks. Their tax cuts won’t positively impact the lives anybody but our wealthiest citizens and with the elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, some of the working poor will likely pay higher taxes. They cut $500 million from our public schools and shifted a lot of that money into programs benefiting charter and private schools. They’ve restricted access to abortion and they’ve tried to protect themselves with the most restrictive voter legislation in the country.
I can keep writing, but what I really want are benchmarks. They claim that much of what they’ve done is to attract business and get our state moving again. They are also going to deliver services more efficiently. So let’s see how it’s working.
The most obvious measure is unemployment. They kicked people off of unemployment and slashed business taxes ostensibly so businesses will have more money to hire. We’re at 8.8% right now, down 0.8% from a year ago. If what they have done is really going to spur economic activity that creates massive jobs, we should be at the national average or better a year from now. Otherwise, they haven’t worked very well.
According to the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, North Carolina’s poverty rate in 2011 was 17.8% with 25.7% of children living in poverty.
The infant mortality rate in 2010, when the GOP took over NC, was 7 per 1000 live births but had been on a steep downward trend and had decreased by more than 20% since 2005.
On education, they say they will improve our graduation rates and test scores. Currently, our graduation rate is 78% for all students and 71% for economically disadvantaged kids.
In 2012, 68% of NC high school students took the SAT and had an average of 1469, 40th in the country.
In the 2012 election, 68% of registered voters showed up. In 2008, 70% did. Let’s see if those numbers hold up.
The number of gun deaths per 100,000 people was 11.6 in 2010.
I’d certainly like more but this is a start. I’d love to see environmental yardsticks and more quality of life stuff. But if they say they’re making North Carolina better, then make them prove it. With Obamacare coming online, healthcare indicators are going to be more difficult to compare since we won’t be able to judge cause-and-effect very well but I’m open to suggestions.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >