Study: Tax burden at highest since GOP took over in Raleigh

The Cato Institute is the standard-bearer for the American libertarian political movement.  Libertarian interests intersect with those of conservatives in quite a few areas — mostly on the fiscal side.  Many of their social, defense and foreign policy stances are a bit too much for many conservatives to swallow. But they do make some good points when it comes to government spending and the economy.  They are about smaller government –something ALL conservatives are supposed to be FOR. 

Cato has recently updated its site called Freedom In The 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom. 

The findings on this site really and truly throw a monkey wrench into claims by party and legislative leaders about alleged conservative achievement on Jones Street.  (Remember, the NCGOP completely took over the legislature between 2010 and 2012. Tim Moore became speaker of the House in 2015.  Phil Berger has been boss since late 2012, early 2013.)

FYI — the higher the numerical ranking (1-50), the worse Cato believes you are.

Here’s their take on The Old North State:

North Carolina is a rapidly growing southern state with middle-of-the-pack scores on all dimensions of freedom. It was 13th on personal freedom as recently as 2015 but is now 33rd, and its economic freedom score slipped in 2022 because of a decline in fiscal policy.

North Carolina gradually improved its fiscal policies from FY 2011 to FY 2020 but has declined the past three years even as other states have improved. State taxes are back to 6.1 percent of adjusted personal income, the highest since FY 2011. […]

Remember, the 2010 and 2012 elections cemented GOP control of Raleigh’s legislative branch. So, we’re talking about a tax burden that has grown under GOP leadership. 

How has this happened?  Well, one big factor was the early efforts of the new GOP majority to replace the income tax with service and consumption taxes.  (Essentially, you get taxed on what you use.)  The new GOP majority on Jones Street got started on that project, quit for some reason, and never managed to get back to it.  Thus, we have this tax burden.


[…] Local taxes have declined steadily, moving from 3.5 percent of income to 3.1 percent, a 0.6 percentage point below the national average. Government consumption rose in 2022 and is above the national average, whereas employment fell and is now basically at the national average. Government debt and financial assets are well below the national average at 8.5 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

Despite large in-migration, North Carolina has eschewed excessive controls on the housing supply. Yet it has slowly declined on land-use freedom since 2000. It has never effectively reformed eminent domain and has a significant renewable portfolio standard.

The “renewable portfolio standard” is all that solar panel and wind turbine nonsense that jacks up your utility bills.  *Thank* Thom Tillis for THAT.


[…] Labor law is good and has been fairly stable since the beginning of our time series. The state has a right-to-work law, no minimum wage, and relatively relaxed workers’ compensation rules, but it enacted an E-Verify mandate in 2011.

Regulation has killed off the managed care model for non-large-group health insurance, but mandates are low. Cable and telecommunications have been liberalized.

Occupational freedom is a weak spot, especially for the health professions. A sunrise review requirement for occupational licensing proposals was scrapped in 2011, and licensing grew consistently until the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Carolina is one of the worst states for insurance freedom. It has a large residual market for personal automobile and homeowner’s insurance because of strict price controls and rate classification prohibitions.

It also has a price-gouging law and a minimum-markup law for gasoline. Entry is restricted for medical facilities and moving companies. It is a member of the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact. North Carolina’s civil liability system has improved over time and is now about average. […]

And now, some historical context:

Back to the Tillis era in the NC House, I see. 


Cato DOES offer up some policy recommendations for the, um, “honorables” over on Jones Street:

The next time someone from Jones Street comes around boasting about what a “good” conservative they’ve been, ask them to explain all of this to you.