Public input sought for Davidson code
Davidson Design for Life (DD4L) will have a booth at the Davidson Farmer's Market on Saturdays, July 7 and 21, to distribute information on street safety and healthy street design. Katherine Hebert, DD4L project coordinator, will be on hand to listen to public comments and answer questions regarding the health impact assessment being conducted on Davidson's street design standards.
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of commentaries by North Carolina Senate District 41 candidates John Aneralla and Jeff Tarte. The two Republicans will face each other in a July 17 run-off election and, since there is no Democrat in the field for this fall's general election, the winner will go to Raleigh in 2013.
North Carolina's unemployment rate, 9.4 percent, is the fourth highest in the nation and the unemployment rate in Mecklenburg County is even higher at 9.6 percent. In addition, North Carolina lost more jobs in May than any other state in the country. This is simply unacceptable. We must start making some serious policy changes that will promote private sector job creation, entice new businesses to locate in North Carolina and encourage our existing businesses to grow and expand.
The first policy change that needs to be undertaken is tax reform. The Tax Foundation, a national non-partisan tax research group, ranks North Carolina as having the worst state business tax climate in the South and the seventh worst in the entire nation. It's no wonder that our unemployment rate is so high, that many existing businesses are shedding jobs instead of hiring, and that new and relocating businesses are choosing to locate in our neighboring states.
Tax reform should begin with eliminating, or at a minimum, significantly reducing our corporate income tax rate. Currently, our corporate income tax rate is the highest in the Southeast, significantly higher than each of our neighboring states. This puts us at a serious disadvantage when recruiting new businesses and industry to North Carolina, and it punishes our existing businesses. In some cases, it has even pushed businesses to leave the state.
We can't just look at cutting or eliminating the corporate income tax, though, because companies that are looking to move here or existing companies considering expanding look at all taxes they must contend with, including the personal income tax, the gas tax, the sales tax, property taxes and fees levied at various levels of government. We must reduce the income tax across the board, and we must cut the gas tax, which is currently the highest in the South. At the state level, we must be careful not to pass on mandates and expenses to local governments, forcing our cities and counties to have to raise taxes.
Regulatory reform is the second major policy change that we must pursue. Burdensome, inefficient regulations at all levels of government are crippling our businesses and limiting their ability to grow and hire. We should reevaluate all regulations currently on the books to see if they are still necessary, if they are actually accomplishing their initial purpose, if the costs of the regulation exceed the benefits, and to see if there is a more efficient way to accomplish the same purpose.
For new regulations, we should require the regulatory agency that is proposing the regulation to perform a thorough, cost-benefit analysis prior to approval and implementation. We should also limit regulations that can be issued by government agencies without approval of the legislature. This would take power away from unelected career bureaucrats and give it back to elected officials who are actually held accountable to those whom they are regulating.
Tax reform and regulatory reform aren't the only things we must work on to grow our state's economy. Businesses also look at quality of life issues such as infrastructure and education. In order to provide businesses with the infrastructure they need to thrive in North Carolina, we need to revamp our system for funding and prioritizing transportation and other infrastructure projects to emphasize need, maintenance, safety and potential economic impact. We also need to push to improve educational opportunities for North Carolina children.
Some of the reforms that we need to look at include continuing to increase the number of charter schools, instituting performance-based pay for educators, promoting literacy and requiring students to be able to read at grade level by the end of third grade, offering students at the high school level a dual learning track (vocational or college track) which will lower the dropout rate and increase the number of skilled workers entering the workforce, and pursuing providing vouchers or tax credits to parents whose children are in private school or are home schooled.
Finally, we need a state senator who will work with his fellow elected officials and community leaders all across the 41st Senate District to advocate for our region and to help identify and recruit companies across a wide range of industries who might be interested in relocating or expanding here. I will work with local officials across the district to help ensure that we are targeting the right industries, that we are emphasizing the right assets, and that we will be able to meet the diverse needs of the businesses that are interested in potentially coming to our district.
I heard a joke the other day that well summarizes the state of our economy. It went something like this: Nearly a decade ago, American prosperity was the envy of the world. We were paying down our national debt, consumer confidence reached an all-time high, and we approached full employment. To wit, we had national heroes Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs to admire. Well, today, we have no cash, no hope and no jobs — let alone our national heroes.
So what happened to our prosperity? And more importantly, how do we get our economy growing again?
As a business management consultant, I have faced many situations like this in the private sector throughout my 32-year career. Though the specific setbacks often differ substantially, failing businesses usually suffer from the same core problem: poor planning and prioritization. I see the same core problem in the way Democrats in charge of state government handled the economic prosperity of a decade ago.
With the economy humming at the turn of the millennium, liberal Democrat leaders of our state government increased spending per capita by 162 percent from 2000 to 2010. That statistic grows more outrageous when you consider that spending outpaced per capita income growth by 30 percent! Like President Obama, these liberal Democrats believe in big government, and to them the bigger the government the better. Consequently, they did not keep government prioritized on the essentials we need or plan for the inevitable "rainy day" to come. No, they went on a spending spree, they maxed out the credit cards, and when the bills came due, they raised our taxes.
In 2010 voters across the state recognized the Democrats' mistakes, fired them, and hired Republicans to get our state's economy back on track. Despite Gov. Perdue and other liberals in Raleigh, conservative Democrats joined the Republican legislature to reverse tax cuts and reduce spending and debt while prioritizing the core functions of government. For that they should be commended, but I believe we have much more work to do.
I am running for state senate because I believe my private sector experience, attested by my track record as mayor of Cornelius, has prepared me to work alongside my friend in the House of Representatives, Speaker Thom Tillis, and other conservatives who are committed to reversing the big-spending ways of the last decade.
In our state government, we have a root problem of waste and inefficiency that has grown by years of misplaced spending priorities. We do not have the problem of too little taxes. High taxes are driving up the costs of everything we buy, leaving less in our pockets to make purchases, as well as making it too difficult for our local businesses to compete. To jump start our economy, we can no longer pretend that we do not need pragmatic and fundamental change to our state government. It has grown far beyond its constitutional duties and must be cut back.
I have seen first hand that the only way to expand our economy is to shrink government and thereby empower North Carolina businesses to do what they do best — innovate, create and compete. It is no wonder we have a jobs crisis in our state with the way Democrats in Raleigh spent the last decade raising taxes, running up debt and spending beyond our means! I will oppose that approach in every instance and fight for the same sound, conservative principles that have proven to deliver positive results in Cornelius.
When first elected mayor of Cornelius nearly six years ago, I immediately put my private sector experience in strategic planning and management leadership into practice. With the help of other conservatives, we built a team that made the tough choices the Democrats in Raleigh refused to make. We cut taxes five times (even during the current recession), eliminated wasteful spending, and prioritized essential government services for public safety, roads and schools. As a result, Cornelius now has a brand new high school, enjoys a AAA bond rating (the highest available), our police department rates in the top two percent nationally by CALEA (the international law enforcement rating agency), and we saved $11 million in reserves for major capital projects. We did all that while reducing our taxes to the lowest rate in the state for towns with a full service police department.
These positive results we achieved in Cornelius are exactly what our state needs right now. I know we can achieve them again, if we stick to our conservative, job-creating principles. If elected, I will fight for economic development through tax reform that reduces the gas tax, reduces corporate and personal income taxes, and permanently fixes the property tax revaluation process. While other candidates may promise similar goals, my track record as mayor demonstrates that you can count on me to do that.
Silent auction will be held to help growing Huntersville family bring a son home from Ethiopia.
Huntersville residents Robyn and Aron Oakley are preparing for the journey of a lifetime. Already biological parents of three girls younger than age 5, the couple made the decision a few months ago to expand their family by adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia, and have since begun the lengthy and complex process of international adoption.
Davidson's Amy Diamond, statuesque and stately with flowing white hair adding a regal aura, sat stoically on a wooden bench through nearly five hours of detailed recollections of a nightmare.
Board reduces tax rate by a penny, not far enough for Gilroy.
At their last scheduled meeting before the state-mandated, shut-the-town-government down deadline, Cornelius commissioners agreed on a budget for fiscal year 2013, even if they don't agree on all parts of it.
McGuire rail work to close a lane
Beginning Saturday, June 23, at 9 p.m. traffic will be reduced to one lane on N.C. 73 at Cowan's Ford Dam until 5 a.m. Sunday, June 24. The work activities are part of a railroad reconstruction project which will accommodate the transportation of new generator stators at McGuire Nuclear Station.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of commentaries by North Carolina Senate District 41 candidates John Aneralla and Jeff Tarte. The two Republicans will face each other in a July 17 run-off election and, since there is no Democrat in the field for this fall's general election, the winner will go to Raleigh in 2013.