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Carolina Journal Radio No. 820: Examining growth in N.C. private school choice options

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
February 4, 2019 12:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 820: Examining growth in N.C. private school choice options

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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February 4, 2019 12:00 am

School choice takes many different forms in North Carolina. In recent years, state legislators have established Opportunity Scholarship vouchers for students from low-wealth families, a separate grant program for students with special education needs, and education savings accounts. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation vice president for research and director of education studies, analyzes each of these programs. Cyberspace might represent the most important battlefield in future conflicts between the United States and its adversaries. During a recent visit to North Carolina, Washington Post staff writer Shane Harris explained how President Trump has approached cyberwarfare differently from his predecessors. Harris analyzes the potential impact of the policy shift. For the first time in his nine years as leader of the N.C. Senate, Phil Berger will not have a Republican supermajority to override a governor’s veto. During the opening day of the new legislative session, Berger explained how the change could affect relations between Senate Republicans and Democrats. Speaking of vetoes, lawmakers voted to override Cooper’s veto of a bill re-establishing separate state elections and ethics oversight boards. During the vote, lawmakers debated the potential impact on investigations of alleged campaign finance violations. Buncombe County voters approved a local sales tax hike in 2011 to address repairs and renovations for their local community college. A recent scandal involving the ousted county manager revealed that the money had been used instead to balance Buncombe’s budget. Joseph Coletti, John Locke Foundation senior fellow, discusses the problem and potential solutions for Buncombe taxpayers.

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From Cherokee to current attack from the largest city to the smallest and from the statehouse into the schoolhouse Carolina Journal radio your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most public policy events and issues welcome to Carolina Journal radio I Muskoka during the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state president Trump is taken a different approach than his predecessors to cyber warfare during a recent trip to Raleigh, a national reporter offered an update on Trump's policy and its potential impact. This is the first time in nine years, but state Senate leader Phil Berger has no Republican super majority what will that mean for state policy worker has some ideas.

Lawmakers recently debated the impact of the new state law involving campaign-finance investigations to hear their comments and will delve into a scandal involving Buncombe County at a local sales tax was approved for renovations and repairs to the local community college but ended up getting used for something else. Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martin as joins us with the Carolina Journal headline for about 10,000 North Carolina school kids are states private school choice programs are making a huge difference in their lives. This school year, opportunity scholarships, disability grants and education savings accounts are just three components of North Carolina's growing list of options for parents and kids Dr. Terry stoops's vice president for research is also the director of education studies for the John Locke foundation is very aware of all these programs he's here to talk a little bit about these three in particular Terry welcome back to the show. Thank you. Opportunity scholarships tell us who's eligible and where you can actually use this scholarship and how much the opportunity scholarships for low income children and the amount of the scholarship is up to $4200 toward the private school tuition.

One of the things about the opportunity scholarship as well as a disability grant that will talk about later is that you have to spend one year in public school before you are eligible to receive the grant so that means a current private school students can't receive disability grant or an opportunity scholarship. The idea there is that.

So to limit some of the deadweight loss. In other words, to provide actual savings to the state by having students move from the private public school to a private school so that's the idea there so it's for a primarily low income kids.

There are also other eligible populations. But that's the primary focus. The opportunity scholarship is this been in place.

This is been employed place for about four years now and we continue to see growth significant interest in significant growth in the number of students who are receiving an opportunity scholarship and we surpassed the 8000 mark this year and I think were probably in the next two-year supply suppress the 10,000 mark so were mincing steady growth where we been seeing a lot of students even eligible students applying for the grants and in the end, there are some who decide to taken some who don't.

But the parents that we've heard from really appreciate having the option of taking the grantor not taking the grant and and they appreciate having the opportunity to be able to receive an opportunity scholarship.

That's really interesting that you said that some will apply for it and then decide it's not the right thing for them and that really is kind of the essence of what the school choice movement is all about to let a parent have options and then for him or her to decide. This works best for my kid. Or it doesn't work best we have any sense of what the parents who are opting in for an opportunity scholarship what their situations are.

Do we know anything or see any trends about who it is that's that's really taking advantage of these will. About half of those who receive it are white to low income families.

The other half are from ethnic and racial minority groups. So it's pretty evenly split between the two, and we see the parents based on surveys from NC State University really looking for a few things when they take an opportunity scholarship. They want a safe environment for their child.

They want academic rigor. There are other factors that are involved such as proximity, so there are a number of factors of parents are looking for when they pursue an opportunity scholarship for their child. One thing is very low on the list and I think it's worth mentioning is that athletics, we always hear the people want to move the private school for athletics purposes. Know this is not a reason why parents are choosing to receive an opportunity scholarship for their child. It's mainly for academic and for safety reasons and and many other reasons that are sometimes hard.

Is there a limited number of private school options, then, that a parent could choose if they opt into the scholarship will the schools have to participate in the program and there are some that choose not to participate in the program. For whatever reason we've heard from some schools. For example, the concern that if they receive opportunity scholarship students that will invite the state to add regulations to their school and so they choose not to participate. There are hundreds of private schools that do participate in the program that do accept the students so generally there's a lot of options for students now courses can be fewer options in rural communities that just naturally have your private schools but still I think very, very good opportunities for most of the students in the state, and for this school year again were talking about around them 8500 recipients of this scholarship. Let's move on to the disability grant to have a much more specialized population of kids that this grant is catering to right now it looks like about 1000 and 200 are participating in this grant program was more about what these are children that have an interval individualized education plan or an IEP, and this is a plan for the school to provide accommodations for whatever disability that the student has very formalized contract. It's a legally binding contract and so only students that have this IEP are eligible for the disability grant and because of the increased costs of educating disabled students. This is an $8000 grants which is course much larger than the opportunity scholarship given the additional costs that are involved in. That's why we see fewer students taking the disability grant because not everyone has this IEP and so naturally there would be fewer of those students participating that are eligible and and fewer still that are participating are there parents who are receiving the disability grant are they using this in conjunction with the education savings account. The North Carolina now has most are now the education savings account gives parents the ultimate flexibility in how the money is spent. Because unlike the disability grant the opportunity scholarship. They'll have to just use it on private school tuition.

They can use it on therapy they can use it on instructional aids in any number of qualified expenses and a lot of these students have very severe disabilities that not only require them to be in a school but require them to receive afterschool therapy, whether speech therapy or physical therapy, and that's an additional cost. So you see students or families that have children with severe disabilities taking advantage of both programs. The $8000 disability grant in the $9000 education savings account using them in conjunction to provide to customize their education for their special needs child, and Terry. We know that these three programs. The opportunity scholarship. The disability grant the education savings account. It's about 10,000 kids who are taking advantage of these three programs. So on the one hand that's a pretty large number of people on the other hand, the very low percentage of the number of kids are actually in the school age arena. So where does that put North Carolina in terms of choice. Are we offering enough options to parents Sam or are they demanding more of the deftly demanding more. The one complaint we've heard about the opportunity scholarship. For example, is that because it's only $4200 and private school tuition is usually much much more than that the parents are unable to pay for the gap between what they get for the opportunity scholarship and what the school charges for tuition. Now many private schools provide scholarships or they remit the tuition for opportunity scholarship children, but there still is a need to increase that amount. I think that's the one overwhelming message we get from parents is that $4200 just isn't enough for this program. And when you couple these programs with the other choice options, charters, home schools, private schools, virtual schools now that ever starts to get a lot bigger maybe that 20% of North Carolina lives. We are approaching 20% of students in non-district schools, which is pretty remarkable and is among the leaders of the nation are mixes a little bit different than most states, but I think that's this is going to continue to increase because the enrollment growth is really in these choice programs rather than in the district enrollment. We been talking with Dr. Terry stoops.

He is vice president for research.

Also, the director of education studies for the John lock foundation. He continues to follow the school choice movement.

You can read all of his Carolina Journal not say with as much North Carolina general radio to come in just a moment government plays a key role in your life affecting your paycheck the way you educate your kids the way you do business.

How can you tell if government is doing a good job making the right choices. Spending tax dollars wisely. Carolina tackles those questions every day. The John Locke foundation publishes Carolina Journal imprint each month and on the web each day at Carolina. you'll find exclusive investigative reports on topics. No one else is covering what else a rundown of the best new stories, editorials and opinion columns in North Carolina.

John Hood's daily Journal news stories and important public and the voices of the newsmakers themselves at Carolina Journal radio imprint on the air and on the web. You can find the information you welcome back Carolina Journal radio I Michiko got much of the words battled warfare and you're likely to conjure images of troops fighting it out on the physical battlefield. Our next guest says the most important battlefield for the United States today is actually cyberspace.

Shane Harris is a staff writer for the Washington Post.

He recently addressed the John Locke foundation. The theme, the rise of cyber warfare in the state of national security under Trump thanks for joining us extra so basically you gave up a history lesson to folks for the John Locke foundation of how cyber warfare has come to be seen going back to the George W. Bush administration and one of your key points was that things under Donald Trump are different than they were under both George W. Bush and Pres. Obama.

How so will the main difference is that with presents Bush and Obama. You have this top level recognition of cyberspace as a place where governments were conducting espionage against us stealing information stealing secrets stealing proprietary commercial information also plays that we needed to be prepared to do battle with other countries steal their information, check their networks discussing this president really hasn't seem to reckon with the strategic vulnerability that exists there and is most prominently expressed in his leg continued resistance to acknowledge the Russian interfered in the 2016 election obviously has a lot of sensitivity around the question of them intervening to somehow try to assist his efforts in the election, but he has also really not gravel. I think with the way that that attack exposed so many vulnerabilities in the way that our electoral system could be probed. Voting roles could be infiltrated and also how emails and other proprietary information can be stolen and recognized against a political candidate and help social media could be polluted with fake messages to try and influence people's decisions on these are all tactics that intelligence officials for many years have understood governments use and have used in other places and present Trump really hasn't seem to recognize that and I think that that keeps him from forming a strategic approach to how to think about defending cyberspace. The way that his predecessors did. Is this just Pres. cropper does this extend to the people around them as well because he's not focusing on it or because he is not acknowledging it. Others are also setting aside, I think that they do it.

There certainly activity that is going on in people in government are focusing on this when you don't have that top level sort of Northstar kind of guidance coming from the president. It doesn't give it urgency and so the problem doesn't have the same level of urgency that I think that it did under Pres. Obama under President Bush. What are the consequences if we don't do anything about it if basically we say this is not a priority word I can focus on what the consequences are the things keep getting worse. So China continues stealing intellectual property from American companies. Russia continues trying to meddle in our election. I Ron continues trying to penetrate systems that control the power grid and other critical infrastructures and again it's not to say that there are places in the government that are aware of that and are trying to work to defend against it, but I think that what history assurance you have to have a strategic vision for this area because it's so new and because there needs to be real guidance and doctrine from the top. I think of it this way too. There's no incentive right now for the homeland security department to mount a big aggressive effort to try and counter Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 to 2018 midterms.

We have seen some statements coming out that are fairly high level, but there's not really a big incentive to try to re-attack the problem that happened in 2016 because it's so politically sensitive for the president. So in the absence of real guidance. We are maybe letting her guard down.

I think Jane Harris's staff writer for the Washington Post. He's been focusing on these issues for a number of years and Shane some people who are supporters of the president are saying, look, this is all fake news. This is this is not an issue. This is all Democrats trying to trying to get some political spin that will be to the detriment of Donald Trump.

Why can we not approach the situation. That way, washing first so if you see you know it's it's not fake news and every single intelligence official in the US government who serves at the pleasure of Donald Trump is on record saying that the Russians did this in 2016 exactly as the previous ministration said many of those officials became the assessment of some of them even carried over from the Obama ministration.

This isn't a partisan position to say that Russia did this, what outmoded hope is of the political conversation could change to acknowledge that this was something that was done to the United States as opposed to two Hillary Clinton or to Donald Trump or on behalf of those things did happen, but if you get to a point we can resolve this and talk about the real, genuine, nonpartisan national security threat this poses.

I think to some degree, it's gonna require the president just acknowledging what everyone else Republican and Democrat says also that no one is out there saying with very very few exceptions that but for the Russian intervention. Hillary Clinton would've one.

No one is trying to make that case. So this is an effort to try to delegitimize the election of the president. I think it's more properly seen as an effort to get the government to wake up to a real national security threat that we clearly want prepared for.

We been talking about Russia, but Russia isn't the only actor we need to worry about it right right so China froze as a a major economic threat for years of instilling intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies and giving those the Chinese businesses to to accelerate their own economy. We did sign a deal with China in 2015, whereby there supposed to stop that activity. There is there mixed reviews on whether they have often they still pose a tremendous espionage threat as well China still government secrets Russia.

We talked about how Iran has been incredibly active in this space over the past six or so years. In fact, it wasn't that long ago where the supreme leader in Iran was talking notionally about the idea of developing called the cyber Army. Today Iran has one. It primarily uses it to attack Saudi Arabia and other interests in the region but it has reached out and tried to attack critical infrastructure in the US and of course North Korea actually did launch an attack on the American company wiping out tons of computers and data at Sony pictures a few years ago and while were now in a conversation with North Korea about trying to do nuclear rise, its weapons program. It is still building a cyber program that you could imagine coming in and if that executor taking the place of nuclear program becoming another way that North Korea could administer United States and its adversaries in the region one of the things that you mentioned in your speech. The John Locke foundation is that this is somehow 1/5 domain of warfare, going along with the AirLand CN space and the only one in which we don't already have subdominant sent.

Why is it important for us to sort of make that a key factor, moving forward, I think, because Americans have become complacent to some degree with the strength of our military, and the recognition that very few countries can really credibly challenge us. Some can challenge us all if we begin to think that we exercise that same level of dominance in cyberspace. We really underestimate the sophistication of the threat that are adversaries pose the barrier to entry to being able to have a credible attack capability in cyberspace is incredibly low compared to the ability to field a standing army or build aircraft carriers and ships that can go around the world or planes that can fly by stealth. We can do all those things most countries can't. It doesn't take that much to get a sophisticated group of people together and form a cyber force that can steal your secrets that can penetrate computers that can control critical infrastructure. It's not trivial, but the barrier to entry is not even comparable to what it is in the traditional military domain. So if we if we don't reckon with that and recognize that we are not always going to be the strongest and the best in this area than we are setting ourselves up to be taken by surprise someone who was monitoring this very closely in his job as a staff writer for the Washington Post is Harris. Thanks much for joining assemblage of entrapment level on Carolina journal radio just a moment if you love freedom we got great news to share with you now. You can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place North Carolina it's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement and North Carolina You'll find links to John Locke foundation blogs on the days news Carolina reporting and quick takes Carolina journal radio interviews TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and let foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James Dean Martin, Center for academic renewal, commentary and polling data from the scimitar's Institute and news and views from the North Carolina family policy Council.

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Don't forget log on to today by something nice and help defend freedom. Support the John Locke foundation. Welcome back to Carolina journal radio I Michiko got Republican Phil Berger is starting his ninth year as leader of the North Carolina state Senate this year is different for the first time since he assumed the leadership role in 2011.

He won't have a vetoproof Republican super majority working with it. Just after his election to 1/5 consecutive term as Senate leader Berger discussed the new environment changes. Now comes the political landscape. The voters returned Republican majorities to the legislature, but not a super majority, which means the Republican majority cannot own its own override a governor's veto legislative Democrats and the executive branch will have the opportunity for more influence over the policymaking process so might look at that and say that I must be disappointed. The reality is that I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that now we can put political battles behind us and find common ground in advancing our shared interest in helping North Carolina continue to grow and prosper until now, conversations, opinion pieces and strategic thinking about the Republican super majority and what that meant for the power dynamic in the study was focused on just that, a super majority and how was super majority results in appeals to that majority. Space core voters, but not much attention was paid to an equal and opposite position the super minority.

If you will. For years minority legislators had the freedom of even the luxury somewhat silly of appealing to their vice. They are national political voters and their ideological agenda so without responsibility for actual governments.

They could toe the party line duck substitute given to attack and litigated in return and regrettably some of the language used to describe the motives behind honest policy differences has incited misplaced anger that just drives us further apart and makes cooperation more difficult with this session hopefully will be different. Republicans will have to work across the aisle so will Democrats.

If were able, if we are to have a successful session.

We all will have to accept outcomes that do not cater to the extremes I knew were capable of this, and so do you and we all know that the vast majority of bills that come out of this chamber are unanimous, but were going to have to find ways for collaboration on more subjects response to hurricane Florence recovery shows what's possible. That's Republican state Sen. Phil Berger deleting the North Carolina Senate for 1/9 consecutive year. Berger is discussing opportunities for bipartisanship over the next two years. This is the first time in Berger's tenure as Senate leader that he won't have a vetoproof Republican super majority will return with more Carolina journal radio development where dabbling down on freedom at Carolina journal radio were proud to bring you stories that impact your life and your wallet. And now get twice as much freedom when you also listen to our podcast headlock available on iTunes headlock is a little bit different. It's a no holds barred discussion that challenges softheaded ideas from the left and the right, like Carolina journal radio headlock is smart and timely but with headlock you'll hear more about the culture wars get some more humor as well.

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Welcome back to Carolina journal radio I Michiko got North Carolina lawmakers recently voted to override a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper. First they wanted to correct the record.

Cooper said the bill would add a new level of secrecy to campaign finance investigations democratic representative Robert Reeves echoed Cooper's concerns. Biggest concerns about who the government would also have would be the changing of the rules own campaign-finance investigations affect both sides of the how this is in a partisan issue that I can see don't understand how to become a partisan issue because it happened to everybody at every point point time, but I do think it's important that we have open transparent investigations and open transparent discussions when there are issues that some Republicans like Representative Larry Pittman objected to portions of the bill.

My problems is in section 4. The part about putting some limitations on investigations of what four years.

I won't mention names, but I know for certain member who not in this general and the other years and years and years before supper was finally done about his situation and I just don't think will be limiting at that like that. I think that section of this bill limits transparency when the people have a right to expect transparency and integrity of their elected officials. I think wanting to limit that personal soon if that goes if you didn't do anything wrong.

I know I haven't, so not too worried about it they can audit me if they want to they can bring charges me.

I know I haven't anything so to do anything. Why worry about that, but supporters of the bill responded one Democrat Duane all chastised colleagues for tying the bill to the ongoing controversy surrounding North Carolina's ninth congressional district. This is common saying political football mob Bladen County is a horrible violation, but had nothing to do with this this scandal to happen there. Didn't happen or continue to happen because they failed to report the investigation or expose it.

There was no investigation should been there. It's it's a completely separate issue will make a political football or something that's not what happened. Republican Sarah Stevens place some of the blame on media coverage presses got it all wrong. They said this is about trying to keep secret certain things. Well it's not. When a complaint is filed with the Board of elections about campaign-finance or anything should be made immediately.

Public what we've said is it needs to go on to the board of ethics before it becomes public. People often had the opportunity to offer their side before it simply is made public on someone's allegation. It could be that you failed to document properly.

Your mileage it could be that you accidentally got a campaign contribution that you perhaps didn't need that you have the opportunity to respond critically right here before, like she may not have an opportunity to respond, but your heart with that allegation, regardless of whether you have the opportunity to respond to it. So this is getting a little time take to get everything a fair treatment. This is not about covering up something. This is about making sure you got a fair opportunity to hear both sides Stevens at her house colleagues voted to override the veto. So did the Senate were Republican. Dad Bishop explain why lawmakers made changes to rules involving campaign-finance investigations.

The bill put everything back in the governor parking control, but plowing off the roof edge of a political operation ever so slightly to the bill included very limited very reasonable very common procedural protections and one was that campaign-finance investigations by the board must be confidential now. There was good reason for that. What happened nine weeks ago. Then Sherman Penry of the board of elections insisted on forcing a hearing on an 18 month old campaign-finance complaint over mileage reimbursement against Republican Sen. on the first day of early voting, the Senators report part of the fourth pointed to the hearing is that Sen. might be going to jail soon absurd that will even work campaign treasurer. His mother was in a hospital bed receiving treatment for cancer, but that did not deter then Sherman Penry only one whistleblower told reporters that the board's investigation wasn't even complete. Did Mr. Penry finally back all L4. Since then, Sherman Penry had resigned the board in disgrace because of overtly partisan activities of his on the and that's what we had in mind when we included the provision that campaign-finance comp investigation should be confidential and coke till complete negative prosecutors and investigators everywhere because destroying reputations for drawnout series of press releases or media leaks is wrong for any agency charged with the serious path of investigating criminal law violations, and especially for bareknuckle political operation that the governor has one by lawfully it will require fairness for Democratic candidates. When Republican is the governor and all the here Democrat on this floor should Lord the effect if you're guilty. Why would you be acute.

I mean, I would expect this listlessness for protections of the accused to come particularly from my colleagues in the other side of the instead, what we hear is something along the lines of, why would that person have been arrested if they were guilty or the ominous words that came out of the Soviet Union showed me the man I'll show you the crown Republican Sen. Paul Newton told the story to help explain his support for the campaign finance investigation changes get a text from a friend, good friend I know is a Democrat used to be a nonpartisan elected official and he says Paul I think you and I'd like you to not vote for the veto override because of the secrecy involved in this bill so he is concerned about secrecy's gotta be coming from Gov.'s good Democrat is listing the governor and so I I did a little research pulled up in the know article is to understand what our governor is saying about this bill.

He said it mandates secrecy and makes it harder to prosecute those who break the law. He goes on to say, tell legislators that you don't want to protect politicians who commit fraud. Don't let the last act make it easier on criminals.

So I text my good friend and here's what I told him the confidentiality provision in the override only protects people against false allegations. As you know, a mere allegation can ruin one's career and good name. If there is merit to the allegation, it will become known to all colleagues. I just encourage you as we move forward in the spirit of bipartisanship in 2019 that we remember that facts matter and facts should matter as we make arguments about legislation and it is factual. I believe my response to my friend, is factual so we are not condoning secrecy were not condoning criminality. This is common sense and it protects one's career from false allegations being made against you been listening to legislative debate focused on a measure to change rules linked to state campaign-finance investigations will return with more Carolina drone radio with a moment of commitment to truth and transparency in government. That is the mission of Carolina journal and we are proud to deliver and now proud to tell you the North Carolina press Association has honored to members of our team with awards for reporting and writing, that's right, we really do deliver award-winning journalism we shine the light on government spending, reveal the truth about boondoggles and dig deep into programs paid for with your tax money.

We keep you in the know in a way other media outlets don't in our reach and influence are growing all of our outlets.

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Call 1866 JL FINF04 your free subscription, welcome back to Carolina journal radio I'm Donna Martinez. When Buncombe County voters narrowly approved a 2011 sales tax hike. It was promised. The funds would pay for a $130 million repair and renovation plan for Asheville Buncombe technical community college but that has not happened. As promised, Joe Colletti is senior fellow with the John Mott foundation.

Now Joe is been looking into this year's long diversion of revenue into Buncombe County's general operating fund. He's also been writing about what some local officials want to do about it all now. Joe will back to the show to be here tell us how this information even came to light because it's a pretty incredible story about how all of this was discovered yeah Buncombe County is been an interesting place for a while now. There are former County manager Wanda green couple of her assistant managers and her entered son, who is also were Buncombe County employee have all been indicted or in some process of being investigated and that's been going on for a year and 1/2 she resigned last year in and amidst all this for kickbacks and embezzlement, and a number of other things. She is since paybacks agreed to pay back $750,000 to the county. The assistant managers of each agreed about $189,000 each. Her son is still being is still working that out.

But while she was gone, they appointed an interim County manager George Wood and as a good County manager.

He started looking into the funds for those were from a with wake County and the Registry of Deeds fiasco here right it's you bring in someone he knew they start taking a look and then they start raising flags and that's what he did and he said you all up and diverting funds and you been doing in this in a way that is not sustainable. You been not only taking money from this that was promised to the community college with which the county commissioners knew they were doing and approved in votes, but you've been using this money to paper over recurring deficits that you been running and that is where you started where it where he really raised the question and said this is not a sustainable practice and but once he brought that to their attention and did that in an open forum that led the Asheville citizens times to do some serious digging and they came up with a lot more on talking a moment about what some of the local officials there now are proposing to be done about this since this new County manager says hey, this can't continue to go on the money just won't down last take us back though first 2011 about how this all started, there was something on the ballot in Buncombe County voters decided yeah in 2011 Buncombe County asked voters for 1/4 cent sales tax increase in number of counties across the state have asked for similar things. Buncombe County found that the best way to do that is to have it as a standalone measure on the November ballot that year so there were no local elections to or no state elections nothing else on the ballot just this one question. And so they had a really low turnout, and it won by about 500 votes and the. The campaign was based on the foot folks who were in support of the sales tax increase guaranteed that the money would all go to a be taxed the Asheville Buncombe technical community college and to help pay for a lot of capital needs that they had been and portion of the money.

Most of the money all the money first year did and most of the money over the next few years did but in the Latin the last three years more and more money has been going to the general operating fund instead of to the community colleges and so and the community college still has a large unfunded backlog of repairs, renovations, and so they been able to build some of the buildings, but not all of money has gone to them. So $15 million has been diverted and in 2011 Michelson arrow who is our who retired from the John Locke foundation warned and in others warned that this this is a good app this is a tax there is no guarantee that the money is going to go over it where it's where it where it's promised to go and future County commissioners can change their minds and that's what they done jail at some point along the way. Do we know if officials at the community college there started, raising their hands and saying hey but but we thought back in 2011. This money was gonna be coming to us or did this just go really kind of unreported and unremarkable. They started to question it.

Before the county permit before coming manager set found everything this past June, but it was they were still getting there still getting $6 million for the first couple years when they win the County commission bumped up the amount that was going into the general fund instead of two instead of the community college. They also bumped up the amount that was going to the community college.

So they went from about $500,000 to the general fund to about $2 million into that holds.

The college are still getting $6 million a year. Then they bumped up the state, the county portion to 5.8 million and that same year they bumped out the college portion the 7.8 million and that's money that was going into the colliers money blasting a little bit of activity and right movements, and really didn't get a whole lot of of question and they were still able to go ahead with their build widths with with some of their buildings that they had planned that they said that the money was going to go to survey open health services building be open they made then in 2017 tore down an existing facility that they were hoping to replace with with a new classroom facility that still hasn't been approved by the County commission in it's not clear that they have the money to actually go ahead with construction either. Now we have this new County manager who is replaced Wanda green and that whole regime and the this new County manager has now saying what we can continue to do this. The money is and just isn't going to last.

So what's been the reaction from officials who can make votes on what to do and from the public on the public of a space in an uproar because it's not what we wanted him. That's what we voted for one of the County commissioners fire hit as said that we should just take us back to the people.

We should we should be honest about what were doing and and ask for a new vote on this sales tax so one of the other things is that the sales tax was supposed to cover a set amount of of construction needs, but it's in perpetuity. They said they would go away but they have to then the County commission has to vote for to go away simply so their suggestion is now that they should have a new vote to see what the people want to do with to see whether they want to continue with this increase in the sales tax rate or whether they want to do away with it saying enough already. Yeah yeah County commission can vote on their own to the end the sales tax. They just need approval to create a new tax but so the idea is to have a new era is very nuanced and that local officials are want to do that right and so there's there's that option and in the state representative from from Asheville. Brian Taylor is said that there should there should be some new safeguards put in place within the county to make sure that the monies going to to the colleges and they should institute a payment plan because there's no way that the that the County commission can give back all the money that they taken from the from that was supposed to go to the to the college. Amazing. I Joe what really strikes me out of this is something you said a few moments ago that when these things are passed and in its quote guaranteed that were going to spend this new revenue on X, Y, and Z. Really, there's no such guarantee that there is never a guarantee. The only way that you can be assured that the money is going to go to something is with the bond and that's not what this is. A tax is just general fund revenue, regardless of how things get apportioned. We been talking with Joe Colletti. He is senior fellow with the John Locke foundation. You can read his writings about this issue in Buncombe Joe, thanks so much for sharing you that's all the time we have for the program this week.

Thank you for listening on behalf of my cohost Mitch. Okay I'm Donna Martinez. Join us again next week for another edition of Carolina Journal radio Carolina Journal radio is a program of the John Lodge foundation to learn more about the John Locke foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal radio send email to development John Locke.or call 66 jail 166-553-4636 Carolina Journal radio is the John Locke foundation Carolina spring market maintaining and Carolina broadcasting system, Inc. all opinions expressed on this program are solely those did not merely reflect the organization. Information about the show or other programs and services of the John Martin foundation John lot.toll-free at 866 JL and would like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors. Carolina Journal radio. Thank you for listening. Please join us again next week

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