Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: The N.C. Chamber's low tax, low wage, low skill approach to the future

Posted September 12

A CBC Editorial: Monday, Sept. 12. 2016; Editorial# 8054
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It didn’t come as much of a surprise when Gov. Pat McCrory confirmed the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s involvement in drafting House Bill 2. In reality, the Chamber has become a rubber stamp organization for state Senate leader Phil Berger.

That once wasn’t the case. In recent decades the Chamber was a strong moderate organization with a positive vision for a future that kept North Carolina moving forward.

It was a key player in promoting public education -- early childhood, the public schools and the state’s public universities. That support, reinforced by the work of many others, built North Carolina’s reputation as THE Southern state that cared the most about public education and backed it up with the necessary resources.

Wide acknowledgement that the quality of our public education system was THE MOST important economic development advantage we had … built North Carolina’s great brand.

In the last few years, things changed at the state Chamber. The main emphasis became lower taxes -- corporate and personal income taxes – along with a draconian approach to modifying the state’s unemployment insurance tax plan by reducing unemployment benefits. The money saved by cutting benefits, in a plan pushed by the chamber, was then used to pay the employers’ debt to the federal government for money borrowed to support the exploding burden brought on by the Great Recession.

The Chamber got its tax cuts and was silent on the controversial matters that were important to the ideologues controlling the General Assembly. The Chamber made a deal (it might be said ‘sold out North Carolina’) as attacks on public education, the environment and the fair treatment of people, go forward.

There were weeks of silence from the Chamber after the quick passage of HB2. As businesses were abandoning the state, conventions pulling out and other states imposing boycotts, the Chamber said it was studying the legislation.

In reality, the Chamber got the business friendly provisions it wanted in the bill. A deal was cut to limit local governments’ authority to impose a minimum wage higher than the state’s and keeping employment discrimination complaints out of state courts -- as Gov. McCrory revealed last week – even though the Chamber continued to adamantly deny any involvement.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, we got broad leadership from the state Chamber of Commerce. Now, it’s a narrowly focused special interest group. Several of the Chamber’s directors are from the state’s largest employers and they know better.

Shortly after taking office, McCrory went on the stump saying the state had a “bad brand." He was wrong. North Carolina had worked hard and built a solid reputation as the "education state" -- the best brand you can have to attract growth industries and businesses like high tech, finance, pharmaceuticals and more.  Businesses that needed a skilled and trainable workforce knew North Carolina was the place to find it.

The state Chamber is silent now as the state’s brand takes a nose dive with three clichéd selling points: low taxes; no unions and lower average wages than surrounding states.

That’s a brand nobody’s buying.

7 Comments

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  • Teddy Fowler Sep 13, 5:03 p.m.
    user avatar

    Have you noticed that they post these so-called "Opinions" pieces but they never have a person's name to them.... completely anonymous.... I find that to be pretty shady and an example of poor journalistic integrity

  • Aiden Audric Sep 12, 6:33 p.m.
    user avatar

    "In reality, the Chamber got the business friendly provisions it wanted in the bill. A deal was cut to limit local governments’ authority to impose a minimum wage higher than the state’s and keeping employment discrimination complaints out of state courts -- as Gov. McCrory revealed last week – even though the Chamber continued to adamantly deny any involvement."

    I think that sums up the law quite well, and is part of why Pat will probably be teaching at a university this spring.

  • Jimmy Jones Sep 12, 11:52 a.m.
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    lol...worked hard at building the "education state?" lol....take your meds.

  • Skip Harris Sep 12, 10:39 a.m.
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    View quoted thread



    This article was regarding the Chamber of Commerce and it's supposed role in education? Do you have a comment that is relevant to that or simply a tangent?

    Cuts, you mean spending cuts? I hate to tell you this but the decline in the public education system goes well beyond any current issues, political parties, or administrations. This is a problem more than 50 years in the making. Throwing money has done nothing to improve the situation. Maybe it's time to do something different like charter schools. But I'm sure that you would scream about that as well. But hey, why not keep doing what has not been working for so long, right?

  • Catherine Edwards Sep 12, 8:56 a.m.
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    As I work in pharma I see most of the highly skilled employees are found out-of-state (usually the north) and out of the country (lots of indians and asians).

    Where are all the North Carolina born highly educated, highly skilled people? Oh that's right we don't care to educate our children anymore. The cuts are more important.

  • Jim Williams Sep 12, 8:28 a.m.
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    Education is not something that can be bought. Especially with government programs. A motivated, self-disciplined individual will obtain an education. Continually capitulating to government by giving them more tax dollars, in the hopes they will improve a situation, has been shown time and time again to be societal insanity. The ACA healthcare is in shambles, Smart Star has not made a difference and it eradicated a one billion dollar surplus in the state budget in the late 1990's, social security a .001 ROR and 22 trillion spent on the "war on poverty," and poverty is worse. So who in their right mind thinks having government invest more in trying to resolve a problem is the solution? The only people who think this are the government elitists who are lining their pocketbooks with government programs. A prime example is Mrs. Clinton, a lifetime in public service, and she is worth 45 million. Yep, she has benefitted greatly from government programs.

  • Charles Boyer Sep 12, 8:05 a.m.
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    Ultimately, it is bad for NC when you don't have a properly educated workforce: jobs leave to other states that have better prepared workers, and collectively, people are less able to afford your products because they have lower earnings.

    In fact, this is a phenomenon so old that Aesop wrote a fable about it: "The Goose Who Laid The Golden Eggs."