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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) — North Carolina is channeling Alabama and South Carolina when it comes to the best economic, social and political model for a U.S. Southern state.

For more than half a century, North Carolina has been progressive on education and public investments, and pro- business — witness the celebrated Research Triangle between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and the financial center in Charlotte — with less racial strife than other Southern states.

As Republicans took full control of the state government in Raleigh, there has been a shift to the right. Taxes for the wealthy have been slashed, and spending for education and programs that benefit the poor have been cut. Abortion has been restricted, and guns rights expanded.

At the end of the legislative session in July, in a state that has enjoyed relatively good race relations — which the business community both encouraged and benefited from — voting privileges for blacks were targeted.

Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican elected last year, says the turn to the right is necessary and is paying off.

“We’re getting tremendous positive feedback from the business community,” he said in an interview. His state had “lost its focus,” and needed to be “shaken up.”

To critics, this conservative agenda — much of it orchestrated by Art Pope, the governor’s budget director and the multimillionaire retailer who is the Tar Heel State equivalent of the Koch brothers — threatens the state’s legacy.

“We’re turning back everything that made us different from other Southern states,” said Jim Goodmon, the chairman of CBC New Media Group LLC and owner of the Durham Bulls Minor League baseball team. “With this shift, economic development is broken.”

Ronnie Bryant, the chief executive officer of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the area’s top economic development recruiter, recently complained to the Charlotte Observer that all the efforts of recent years to promote Charlotte as a business center “have been negated in the last few weeks.”

He said business leaders elsewhere are asking: “What the hell are you guys doing?”

Ann Goodnight, a powerful advocate for higher education in the state whose husband is CEO of the giant technology company SAS Institute Inc., wrote a letter to the Raleigh News and Observer charging that cuts in education funding were a “grievous mistake.”

The places that succeed in economic competitiveness, she wrote, “are investing in education and using the playbook we once embraced.”

The biggest firestorm erupted when the legislature changed voting procedures, requiring a state-issued photo ID, limiting early voting and ending same-day registration — practices used disproportionately by blacks.

“They are extremists, and are playing the race card,” said the Reverend William Barber, head of the state’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is organizing multiracial coalitions around the state, and turning out thousands to protest these changes.

On taxes, the Republicans cut the corporate rate, ended the progressive personal income tax and eliminated the estate tax, which affected, on average, fewer than 75 families annually and will cost the state $300 million in lost revenue over the next five years. The legislature also decided not to continue the earned-income tax credit for the working poor.

North Carolina requires a balanced budget, and new expenses must be offset elsewhere.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Typical Republican Control. They never met a tax cut resulting in a budget deficit that they didn’t like.

    • S.J. Jolly

      Budget deficits provide a rational to cut services to the non-rich.

  • disqus_fsqeoY3FsG

    Apparently there is nothing in North Carolina’s Constitution about Quid pro quo. Pope makes a sizeable donation to McCrory’s campaign and Pinocchio once elected makes Geppetto the Budget Director. Result a tax break for the wealthy and take away a tax credit for the poor – N.C. you have serious problems starting with allowing Art Pope to buy his position as Budget Director and than benefiting from his position.

  • hollyhock

    I would think the reputations of Duke and UNC and the Research Triangle would sink immediately, with a noticeable outflow of the good brains and innovations that have been there.

  • kingartie1

    Pope wouldn’t have given away all that money without having weighed the numbers for the likely very sizable return on investment. All he and his ilk had to do was to make sure that the state was run like their own little fief, to hire the right man to guard and promote their interests. It’s less about politics or public service then about business, and it’s the same playbook in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Texas, Florida, and on and on. The Republican’t Tea Party philosophy of governing is corporate Darwinian determinism wherein profits and power flow to those rightfully at the top and they decide who gains and loses. Democrats are similar, but at the very least they also see government as a public institution that should help the citizens. The Rs are run by shills, drones, agents, proxies and pimps. There isn’t a free-thinking, non-conforming voice among them. If they were to get back in complete power, America very shortly would come to seem like one giant low-wage, high-debt, no-benefit McDonalds with an executive class pulling in money way off the charts and answerable to no one.

    • Sand_Cat

      Regarding your last statement, we’re mostly there already.

    • S.J. Jolly

      The big-money Republican ideal, I’ve concluded, is to be like strong feudal dukes under a weak king: To enjoy the protection of the national army and police, but pay no taxes and obey no royal laws they don’t want to.

  • sigrid28

    Appointing majorities of Republicans to state and county election commissions is the insider aspect to this sea change in North Carolina. On the country level, as often happens in American politics, renegades are trying all kinds of means of stopping potential Democratic voters from having their votes counted in the next election, including opening attempting to stop students at the state university in Elizabeth City from voting whatsoever. Judicial action against these incursions has not received much coverage yet, but the time cannot come soon enough that lawyers begin to specialize in representing disenfranchised voters and civil lawyers find ways to bring costly suits for high damages in class action cases against the state’s “budget director” who has financed this wholesale buyout of an entire state.

    • JSquercia

      As was pointed out on the Maddow show there is a Supreme Court Decision that explicitly states that Students are allowed to vote based on their college address .
      The OBVIOUS purpose of all the new voting laws is a BLATANT attempt to disenfranchise ANYONE who might vote Democratic (Students ,blacks and the poor) They even went so far as to set up a voting precinct that s
      “serves” 9,500 people when the state recommendation is 1,500 ) .

      They talk about protecting the vote but can NOT explain how shortening Early Voting helps protect the vote . The MOST egregious change is the one that discontinues the practice of allowing High School students to be set up for registration when they become 18 .

  • howa4x

    States futures depend on creating an educated group that will invent new products and create jobs. Cutting education is shooting the state’s future in the foot. the tea party is into short term gains at the expense of longer ones. Corporations are looking at states to see if they can attract quality employees there. If states are homophobic, or have policies against women or defund education, ruin the environment then fewer applicants will want to re locate there. Younger people are more socially liberal and will gravitate to states that are in line with their philosophy. This start wants to grab all it can for their group till they are removed and are myopic.

  • Dominick Vila

    The South took a perilous lurch to the far right the moment former President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. They left the ball park long ago, and don’t plan to come back in any time soon.

  • Pamby50

    We as democrats fell asleep in 2010. We should have been out to the polls voting. We should have been reminding people that once the census is taken, district lines get re-drawn. We may wake up and be able to take some of the governor jobs back, but those state houses are gerry mander and will stay that way till the next census in 2020. By that time we need to be in position to reverse this trend.

    • spazaru

      But McCrory was not elected in 2010, but 2012. That’s what really troubles me. I think demographic changes will make some of the state houses a little more competitive before 2020, but in general, you’re right. 2010 will haunt this country for decades.

  • S.J. Jolly

    There is a political war going on in America. The hard right, led by the Koch brothers and their big-money allies, is out to restructure America as a country of, by, and for the ultra-rich and the corporations they control. The plotters failed to take control of the national government in 2008 and 2012, so now they are engaged in taking control of the country state by state.