Art Pope

Daily dose: $1 billion budget shortfall edition


North Carolina’s budget year is a mere two months old and already there are annoyances that could be signs of huge problems in a few months. Total general fund revenues are $200.4 million short where they were at this point last year, according to the Monthly Financial Report for August 2014, issued by State Controller’s Office on Tuesday.

If the current trend continues, it is likely legislators will be dealing with a budget hole of $725 million to as much as $1.2 billion. This past legislative session, the General Assembly had to confront a $500 million shortfall as they struggled to meet a variety of election-year spending demands, including pay raises for teachers and other state workers. Most state agencies started the year already in an austerity mode and it won’t be surprising, if by the end of September or October, memos will be dispatched from Lee Roberts, Gov. Pat McCrory’s new budget director, with belt-tightening orders and restrictions on state employee travel.

McCrory will likely try to avoid doing anything before election day, so it won’t have an impact on the various campaigns, particularly for fellow Mecklenburg County Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House of Representatives who is locked in a very close race for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

Don’t be surprised when legislative leaders and key budget analysts declare that it is still too early in the process to say whether any trends are in place and that they expect revenues to increase in late October and into November and December with holiday shopping and lucrative year-end bonuses. The major culprits for this latest revenue shortfalls are individual income taxes running $225.5 million behind last year along with franchise fees which are running $51.3 million behind the same point last year. Tax cuts enacted by the legislature have had a major impact that haven’t been made up with predicted economic growth in other areas.

In August 2012 the state collected $816.5 million in personal income taxes. This past August, the total was $680.3 million – a difference of $136 million. Broadening of the state sales tax has, over the same period, brought in additional $124.6 million – still not equal to the income tax cuts, including reductions in the corporate income tax.

McCrory aims to stump for Tillis in US Senate race (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he plans to do anything he can to help fellow Republican Thom Tillis' election campaign for the U.S. Senate in November, and will campaign for state legislators as time allows. McCrory said Tuesday he's planning to actively campaign for Tillis. The governor noted he endorsed the top lawmaker in the state House before the Republican primary election in May. Tillis and McCrory are both from the Charlotte area and have been close allies on most legislative issues since the governor took office last year. McCrory says he's getting many requests from legislative candidates to help their campaigns. The governor says he'll try to support as many as possible around his work schedule, but points out North Carolina is a big state.

Back to the Puppetshow

Years ago, much of my writing at BlueNC involved pushing back against Art Pope's Multimillion Dollar Opinion Manufacturing Machine, of which the John Locke Foundation used to be the drive shaft. Each day, John Hood brought a new level of depravity to public policy, and I did my best to keep track of it all. Under the weight of Pope's funding, however the Machine wore me down. His mercenary army of "report writers" and "analysts" did in North Carolina what Blackwater and Halliburton did in Iraq. Destroy and plunder.

These days, I don't even pay attention to Hood and his minions, but I'm glad to see that others are. Today, for example, Thomas Mills responds Hood's regurgitated, free-market happy talk about North Carolina exceptionalism. It's a brilliant piece, well worth your time.


Among the most damaging of all animal species in the world today, termites strike a special fear in humans. These insects are legendary in their ability to destroy from within, secretly attacking foundations until the buildings around them collapse into rubble. Such is the impact of the GOP on the foundation of government in North Carolina. Art Pope, of course, is the queen of destruction.

From a throne deep inside his multimillion dollar opinion manufacturing machine, Mr. Pope has decimated our state's economy and enriched wealthy citizens at the expense of middle class families, teachers, government workers, and the environment. No area of responsible stewardship has been left unscathed.

Yet the damage being done is not easily visible to the people in our state. The destruction is hidden behind the walls of our classrooms and beneath our bridges and highways. Having plastered over the hollowed out joists in our foundations, Mr. Pope and his minions have managed to shield their work from public view. They are hoping people won't notice until after November.

The strong house that has been North Carolina is at risk of crumbling around us, ravaged by gluttonous creatures whose only goal is to fatten their queen.



While North Carolina currently enjoys a AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor's, it potentially could come to this:

TOPEKA — News that the state’s credit rating had been downgraded put a damper on Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts’ Republican unity celebration Wednesday morning.

Standard & Poor’s lowered Kansas’ bond rating to AA from AA+, citing the state’s unbalanced budget caused by income tax cuts signed into law in 2012. Though the state’s bond rating is still high, the downgrade is a signal to investors that Kansas bonds are a riskier investment than they were before the tax cuts.

"The downgrades reflect our view of a structurally unbalanced budget, following state income tax cuts that have not been matched with offsetting ongoing expenditure cuts in the fiscal 2015 budget," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst David Hitchcock in a release.
S & P also downgraded the state’s appropriation-secured debt to AA- from AA.

Art Pope quits, leaves NC without a governor

You've no doubt heard the news. Art Pope is taking his $1 salary and going home. Which raises this question: what is Deputy Assistant Governor Pat McCrory going to do without Mr. Pope to tell him what to say?


Goolsby, now Pope

are so Palinesque.


Art Pope continues his "community service"

Southeast Raleigh has lacked a good supermarket for quite some time, since a Kroger store closed more than a year and a half ago.

Southeast Raleigh is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "food desert," an urban area where the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 33 percent of residents have limited access to a supermarket or large grocery store. After the Kroger store closed, residents had to trek several miles – sometimes on foot, sometimes taking various buses – to get to the nearest supermarket.

Art Pope to the rescue!

Art Pope’s Variety Wholesalers has purchased the vacant Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh with plans to establish the company’s first standalone grocery in an area that badly needs one.

Cost of Art Pope's tax cut balloons to $690M

Earlier estimates put the cost of the NC GOP's tax giveaways to millionaires at nearly half a billion dollars.

Turns out those estimates were low -- we're now pushing three-quarters of a billion dollars in revenue shortfall because the NC GOP puts Art Pope's tax cut above every other policy objective.

New figures from legislative analysts confirm the 2013 cut to individual income tax rates is costing the state far more than originally projected.
According to a memo Thursday from legislative analyst Brian Slivka and chief economist Barry Boardman, the updated cost of the tax cut is $690 million for the current tax year.

That's $205 million, or 43 percent, higher than the original projection of $475 million.

That's for this year. And like the Energizer bunny, the NC GOP's fiscal irresponsibility just keeps going and going.

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