We’ve talked about A LOT of stuff in the 2012 race for governor of North Carolina. We’ve heard a lot about Pat McCrory’s tax returns. We’ve been treated to commercials featuring a Pat McCrory puppet. It looks like some consultant finally woke up and said:”Hey guys, there are a lot of people out of work around here. Maybe we need to start talking about getting people back to work.”
So, we are now being treated to some wisdom from Pat McCrory and Walter Dalton — two giants of business and industry — about how to fix what ails North Carolina’s economy:
In separate Charlotte appearances Tuesday, North Carolina’s two major candidates for governor extolled their own economic proposals and derided their opponent’s.
“Mine’s real; his is political,” Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton said when asked to describe the differences between his program and Republican Pat McCrory’s.
McCrory called Dalton’s jobs proposal “extremely piecemeal” compared to his own “long-term, integrated plan.”
“Where’s (Dalton) been for the past 10 years that he’s been part of state government?” McCrory asked.
Actually, it’s been SIXTEEN YEARS. (But who’s counting?) Read On:
The two made the comments after speaking to a conference of the North Carolina Technology Association.
In a state with the nation’s fifth-highest unemployment rate, the economy is the top issue for many North Carolina voters.
In his remarks to the technology group, Dalton blamed the setbacks to the state’s manufacturing economy on so-called “fast-track” trade agreements and the ongoing credit crunch.
He called for a plan that would blend innovation and education with tax breaks for small businesses, even tax credits for employers who hire the unemployed. That’s part of a recently released 15-page package of proposals he describes as “more strategic” than current policies.
“It’s a plan that will put people back to work now and also provide jobs for the future,” he said.
Asked about getting anything through what could remain a Republican-controlled General Assembly, he said his “isn’t a Republican or Democratic program. This is a program that puts people back to work.”
Hmm. Those tax breaks Democrats like to tout are typically in the $2000 to $5000 per job range. You could EASILY spend $50,000 — when you consider salary, benefits, and training — on an employee during his first year. Spend $50,000 or more to get a $2K to $5K break on your taxes at the end of the year. What a bargain.
I’ve actually come across industries in our region who have accrued so many of these “tax breaks” that they can’t even use them all. It’s a great sound byte for media consumption, but tax incentives are nowhere near as effective an incentive as the wholesale improvement of North Carolina’s business climate could be.
McCrory also appealed for greater use of technology in rebuilding “the brand of North Carolina.”
“The state of North Carolina’s brand, which used to be one of the best up-and-coming brands in America, … has become a little bit tarnished,” he said.
He said he would make a long-range plan for the state’s infrastructure including its energy, transportation and water.
“We need a long-term, integrated plan to fix the economy,” he said. “And technology is going to be a big part (of that).”
Yikes! Ol’ Pat is starting to sound a little like President Stimulus himself.
Dalton’s plan calls for more military equipment to be refurbished and repaired in North Carolina. Great. People being paid with tax dollars to work on government property. Mayor Pat’s plan offers up some interesting nuggets like deregulation, tax cuts, elimination of the inheritance tax, and moving forward on energy exploration. He starts to lose me when he gets into setting up two tracks for high school graduation and starting a public-private partnership to encourage more exports.
As an educator, I think it’s a nice idea to get away from putting EVERYONE on the college preparatory track. Let’s face it, not everyone is college material. But how do you decide who follows the college track, and who goes the vocational route? I am seeing WAY TOO MANY kids showing up in my college classes and struggling to read the textbook. (Yes, they ALL have diplomas from in-state high schools.) Our K-12 system has a hard time producing anywhere near a 100 percent literacy rate among its graduates. I think solving THAT problem is the most pressing issue facing public education in this state.
It has never worked well to have government meddling in the marketplace. NEVER. Reform taxes and regulations to encourage more private businesses in the state to explore the world of exporting. No new state agencies, please.