NC can save $383 million in its budget

The state can save up to $383 million in its budget if it uses a spending technique proposed by the John Locke Foundation in their latest Spotlight report. The technique is called “reverse logrolling.”

“Lawmakers can achieve these additional savings by using a technique called ‘reverse logrolling,'”  “It flips traditional budget logrolling on its head,” said Sarah Curry, JLF Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, the report author. Logrolling is a budget practice in which negotiators for both legislative chambers agree to accept higher spending levels for each chamber’s budget priorities.

“This practice often results in a poor outcome for average citizens, as lower-priority or so-called ‘pork-barrel’ items are funded and mediocre legislation enacted,” Curry said.

Budget negotiators should take the opposite approach, Curry said in a press release. “Rather than one set of budget negotiators accepting particular programs or higher levels of spending from their counterparts, with the expectation that those counterparts will do the same, legislators should agree to accept the lower spending numbers for each departmental budget,” she said. “After all, a majority in at least one chamber already has decided that the lower spending figure will satisfy citizens’ needs under current budgetary constraints.”

She outlines how these savings can be achieved in the report, included a spreadsheet of potential department-by-department savings.

This is a commendable effort, which Libertarians support. The greatest obstacle we see is to get Republican and Democratic legislators to kick their spending habit.

JLF Press Release

JLF Spotlight Report

Pension spiking is corruption

Once again, the News and Observer has performed an admirable public service by exposing the exorbitant salaries being paid to select state government employees and the manipulation of the law to increase their pensions.

In a series called Checks without balances, the N&O detailed how four community college presidents, two housing authority directors, and a Town of Cary “tennis pro” collected tens of thousands of dollars in perks and benefits in a scheme designed to circumvent salary caps.

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Republicans ignore state constitution and the law

It took me two tries, but I finally got Rep. Nelson Dollar, through his legislative assistance, to admit that the General Assembly has not complied with the law requiring them to pass a budget by June 30. Or at least I think I have.

In my first e-mail to Mr. Dollar I asked: The General Assembly has not yet passed the state budget. Am I correct in believing that state law requires you to pass a budget by June 30? Or is that a self-imposed deadline? Has the GA failed to pass a budget by June 30 before?

The answer from Candace Slate, Legislative Assistant was:

“Thank you for your e-mail. A Continuing Resolution was passed HB336 allowing for the budget passage to July 31, 2013. This type of Resolution has occurred many times over the years. This Resolution allows for the State Budget Director to continue the expenditures for the operation of government until the new budget is passed.

To which I replied: Thanks for your prompt reply. I know that is what the General Assembly has done. But my question is, is there a state statute or GA policy that requires the budget to be passed by June 30, since the state’s fiscal year starts July 1. Funding state government operation with a continuing resolution, no matter how temporary, does not seem to me to be the most efficient way to run things.

And the final answer was: “This is required under the State Budget Act and was sent to me by our Fiscal Research staff: § 143C-5-4. Enactment deadline. The General Assembly shall enact the Current Operations Appropriations Act by June 15 of odd-numbered years and by June 30 of even-numbered years in which a Current Operations Appropriations Act is enacted. (2006-203, s. 3.)

So, I think he’s admitting that the GA did not comply with the statute. Unless they consider a continuing resolution a “current operations appropriations act.”

However, I must give Representative Dollar credit for promptly responding to my constituent queries. As this took less than three hours, and he’s responded to previous queries just as promptly.

GOP tax fairness plan is unfair

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

The tax reform plan announced by state Sen. Phil Berger is just another charade designed to make citizens think Republicans are actually reducing taxes. Calling it the Tax Fairness Act and claiming it’s the largest tax cut in state history is misleading at best.

In fact, it isn’t fair and it isn’t a tax cut. Senator Berger and the other Republican leaders at their press conference last week probably used the word “fair” hundreds of times.

No tax is fair. Taxes are inherently unfair. Every tax hurts someone. The only difference between taxes proposed by Republicans and Democrats is which special interest group is going to benefit and which is going to pay.

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The forgotten war and the forgotten debt

Just before the Republican National Convention, the 2,000th American solider was killed in Afghanistan. The death went unnoticed. Afghanistan has become another “forgotten war.”

As the Democratic National Convention opened this week, the U.S. debt topped the $16 trillion mark. That event also went unnoticed.

What’s the connection? Both Republicans and Democrats are complicit in turning the state of our union a perpetual and universal state of war that is driving America deeper and deeper into debt.

It does not matter which of the two major party candidates is elected president in November. America will remain at war, and probably go to war with yet another country, and the debt will keep increasing.

Don’t be fooled by the talk of “cuts” in military spending, Medicare, Social Security or any other federal government program that either the Democrats or Republicans propose. That is another charade, a shell game, in simple terms – a lie. These so-called cuts are not cuts at all. All the are is less of an increase.

It’s like trying to convince your wife to let you buy boat you can’t afford and will have to borrow money to purchase. You tell her you’ll cut spending by buying a $20,000 model instead of the one that costs $30,000.

The Fair Tax Isn’t Fair, It’s a Farce

“There cannot be a good tax nor a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion.” – Frank Chodorov

BURNET, Texas (Jan. 7) – The so-called Fair Tax is not fair; on the contrary, it is a farce based on fallacies and falsehoods. Sadly, some libertarians have fallen for the bogus arguments uttered by proponents of this national sales tax and bought into the idea that this is the “best we can hope to get.” This is a justification very similar to the flawed reasoning that induces some people to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

One of the core values of libertarianism is the right of people to keep all the fruits of their labor. No taxes are fair. All taxes are, at their root, immoral because they involve the use of force to take money from people, money that rightfully belongs to them, and give it to others. That is why libertarians would fund most government services with voluntary user fees.

The most dangerous claim used by advocates of the Fair Tax is that it’s “revenue neutral,” that it will allow the federal government to collect just as much money as the income tax. Fair Tax supporters say this as if it were a good thing. It is not. The greatest danger facing our nation isn’t terrorism, global warming or the energy crisis. It is out-of-control, unbridled government spending. It is our $15 trillion federal debt, which grows every day.

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Don’t raise the debt limit

The best outcome of the nonsensical display of “Debt Limit Theater” current running in Washington is for Republicans and Democrats to do noting and not raise the debt limit, according to the chair of the Libertarian Party.

“Everything I’ve heard from Washington politicians about the debt limit is nonsense,” said Mark Hinkle in a statement released July 27. “None of the deals would do anything to cut federal spending. Some reduce the rate of growth a little bit, but I’m afraid that doesn’t count. I propose the simplest option: Do nothing. Don’t raise the debt limit, period.”

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Saving Century post office won’t be savings for taxpayers

Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman explained the principle of government spending this way. “When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it,” he said. He’s still careful about what he spends when he buys something for someone else, but “somewhat less what he spends it on.”

When a man uses someone’s else money to buy something for himself, he’s careful about what he buys but not so careful on how much he spends. “And when a man spends someone else’s money on someone else, he doesn’t care how much he spends or what he spends it on. And that’s government for you,” Friedman concluded.

That axiom applies to any government at any level, and to all amounts of money. The problem is that the more money is involved, the more difficult it is to recognize the problem. It is somewhat easier to see this principle at work on the local level, as two recent news items illustrate.

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