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Carolina Journal Radio No. 792: Enrollment grows in home, private schools

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
July 23, 2018 12:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 792: Enrollment grows in home, private schools

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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July 23, 2018 12:00 am

Parents homeschool more than 135, 000 students in North Carolina. Nearly 102,000 more students attend private schools in the state. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation vice president for research and director of education studies, analyzes recent growth in both of those numbers. Stoops assesses the significance for education policy in the state. Private-sector innovation has driven massive positive changes in the American energy industry. Recent tax and regulatory reforms should lead to even more growth in the nation’s energy sector. Dan Brouillette, deputy U.S. energy secretary, delivered that message recently during a speech in Raleigh for the Jesse Helms Center. Brouilette explains how American energy production affects the nation’s geopolitical position. A proposed constitutional amendment on North Carolina’s ballot this November would change the way the state fills vacancies for state judges. During a recent floor debate, senators spelled out the pros and cons of changing the current rules. State leaders will need to take more steps to shore up long-term funding for North Carolina’s State Health Plan. State Treasurer Dale Folwell describes recent steps his office has taken to help address the issue. Folwell explains why state policymakers need to take the issue seriously. North Carolina continues to pay out millions of dollars for an “expired” tax credit linked to renewable energy. Dan Way, Carolina Journal associate editor, recently reported the numbers. Way explains why taxpayers are still paying for a credit that’s been eliminated.

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From chair 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 private sector innovation is transformed the American energy industry in recent years top federal official recently told a Raleigh audience. What that means for our wallets and for world politics. A constitutional amendment on the ballot in November would change the way North Carolina feels judicial vacancies to hear debate about the idea the state treasurer reminds us why North Carolina needs to take steps to shore up long-term funding for government retiree health benefits and will learn why North Carolina taxpayers continue to foot the bill for an expired renewable energy tax credit.

Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martinez joins us with the Carolina Journal headline news state education data shows that homeschooling is out in North Carolina as is the number of kids who are enrolled in private schools now that has analysts wondering couple of things. First of all why and secondly, what does all of this enrollment data mean for the future of traditional public schools. After Terry stoops's vice president for research. Also, the director of education studies for the John Locke foundation. He's been digging into the data and joins us now. Terry welcome back NICU private schools. First, what are we saying in the data and what is the trend there or not seeing a whole lot of growth and private schooling. Year-over-year growth has been a 1.2% from 2017 to 2018, 201,775 students in North Carolina's private schools in the door in 2017, 2018 school so not a whole lot of growth what we've seen in the last couple years. The real problem was after the great recession. There was a dip in private school enrollments and only now are the private schools in North Carolina recover any chance that maybe that is sort of plateaued because we have seen increases in the number of choices and options in North Carolina for parents and I think so, and there may be some private school students who are homeschooling or going to charter schools so they may find that to be more appealing and interestingly enough we have voucher programs that provide public funds for low income special-needs students to go to private schools doesn't seem to be driving the enrollments in private schools in any significant way know we have seen an increase in the number of private schools we have in North Carolina, but the enrollments is largely flat so were not seeing voucher usage driving the enrollment for private schools is much as we might expect it to. So little bit of increase there for private schools, but the new data on homeschooling is really fascinating. Tell us what's happening there will 6.2% increase from 2017 to 2018. Putting the homeschool numbers over 135,000 students enrolled in home schools not unlike the private school number. These are just estimates that the division of nonpublic education are derives from an algorithm they punch it into a computer.

The number schools and calculate the number and estimated number of students per school when they come up with this estimate. There been some that have argued, especially the homeschool movement side have argued that this number actually underestimates the number of homeschoolers that are there, but I think it's a fairly reliable number will discover the hundred and 36,000 because let's face it, that's really impressive it is.

It's a big number. In fact, to help us compare if the homeschoolers were considered at district how they rate in North Carolina in terms of size may be the third largest district type something there catching up to Charlotte Mecklenburg schools, which is number two on the list and course weight County is number one on the list and so I think were going to see in the next few years. If this rate of growth continues homeschooling, perhaps becoming the second largest district if it were district in North Carolina. What I think is really fascinating is that for the longest time it seemed as if the prospect of homeschooling a child was incredibly daunting to a parent and understandably so that they would just say oh there's no way I could do that. But now we have more than hundred and 30,000 kids estimated to be homeschooled. Is there an increase in resources or is it not as difficult as perhaps parents think what's going on what technology is deftly driving some parents to decide homeschool with an array of online options with the curriculum being produced by multiple companies and entities out there. Parents have an unlimited supply of the curricula and worksheets, and instructional materials that they can use to homeschool their child. So that's a big part of it. But as the homeschool movement has grown, so has the use of a cooperatives and groups of homeschoolers that come together and rely on the resources of the homeschool families that come together to perhaps teach that difficult course or to provide instruction in the arts that they wouldn't otherwise get it home or they wouldn't otherwise get it home with the quality that they could get at a cooperative North Carolina change the homeschool law a few years ago to allow greater use of cooperatives and so I think that's one reason why were seeing some of the increased interest and enrollments in home schools because it doesn't seem as daunting as it used to be.

Do we have any sense of the typical demographic or characteristic of a homeschooled child. This is really interesting because I looked at the makeup of religious versus non-religious home schools and in the year 2000, around three quarters of the home schools in North Carolina had a religious focus this year. It was down to 58.5% so overseeing is a dramatic decline in the number of religious themed homeschools and a surge in the number of home schools that I guess we will call secular but more likely don't have the type of religious focus and provide religious curricula like the like. The homeschools certainly used what's driving that well I think it's it's certainly a number of things I think those of the homeschool movement has blossomed into one that has welcomed ideological, political, and religious diversity. Frankly were not surprised to see now those from the centerleft to homeschool because they're concerned about the public private school with their child attends. So they find homeschooling to be a viable option is not the stigma that there used to be in homeschooling and so I think that's welcoming a much more diverse group of parents into the homeschool movement so we talked a bit about Ted. This slight increase in private school enrollment in this larger increase in homeschooling waste all this mean for the traditional public school system with the traditional public school system.

Enrollment has been plateauing for a few years now. Only one more underreported things in the media that we see large increases in homeschooling and in charter schools but in the district schools.

I estimate that there is going to be a slight decrease in the enrollments in district schools for this year and 1/2 percentage point is what I estimate. But the point is is that the districts are growing now that may come to surprise some people that are in weight County or Mecklenburg County that are growing. But while those counties are growing. There are plenty of counties in other parts of the state that have a declining student population and those are more than compensated for the growth we see in our urban and suburban counties down the road if the trend continues this way then are we reaching a point where this could have an impact on say dollars needed for construction of schools or dollars needed to hire teachers well I think were seeing that already in weight County for example has well over 12,000 homeschoolers you think about what the impact of 12,000 additional kids would have on the weight County schools if they had to build buildings for those teachers for the students and provide teachers for them. So I think we've already seen the points where the number of students exiting the system is giving some relief to these fast-growing counties. Now it's not eliminating the need for additional teachers or additional school buildings, but it's making a big difference and I think that that's one of the reasons why you don't hear the wake County school board or the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board saying much about homeschools or private schools because they're actually doing a service to the traditional system and lastly Terry how we rate in terms of other states are they seeing the same type of trend particularly with homeschooling. This is tricky because a lot of other states don't actually produce this data so we have really general and umbilical unreliable estimates of what other states have done if you look at the total number of homeschools. According to the estimate that I have seen North Carolina has the third largest homeschool enrollment, which is remarkable because the other states are like Texas in larger states like that. Same with this much more Carolina journal 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 in print each month and on the web each 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 in print on the air and on the web. You can find the information you will get back to Carolina journal radio why Michiko got innovation based in the private sector has helped improve America's energy picture that's a key message from Deputy US energy secretary Dan Brule.

He delivered that message during a recent speech in Raleigh for the Jesse Helms setter Brule began his remarks by quoting helped one of the quotes that caught my what I was doing little bit of background research to remind me was this one. He called our free enterprise system quote the miracle of America.

What a perfect description that is we embrace real price when regulations or simply the rules of the road instead of barriers blocking the road something absolutely miraculous happens, we unleash creativity. We unlock innovation, we witness stoning breakthroughs in technology and that changes everything. Nowhere is that more obvious or more evident than in the field of energy. Brule offered evidence to support his case today, America produces more energy, more abundantly, and affordable more cleanly and more efficiently, and from more energy resources than anyone could've ever predicted just a few short years ago as a result of what we're seeing today.

However, we are not only becoming an energy secure country we are, but we are transforming our foreign policy in the energy revolution is the greatest boom to foreign policy since the collapse of the Berlin wall. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, and since the demise of the Soviet Union and is one who supported the policies that triggered those great outcomes. Jesse Helms would be enormously pleased if you were here today the story of our energy Renaissance and its effect on foreign policy is absolutely amazing relay turned back the clock to tell the story of recent American energy innovation. The story actually began 40 years ago and at that time America face price controls at home oral board boycotts that were imposed upon us from abroad in cars that waited in long lines for very short supply of dazzling is energy speech to the nation in April 1977, Pres. Carter reflected the conventional wisdom of his predecessors, and indeed that entire decade.

He insisted that we were running out of oil and gas.

He said we could not increase domestic production in any meaningful way. And even if new reserves were discovered. He and others believe that it was too costly to produce it were possible to use it without, as he put it plundering the environment. Perhaps he was related to Al Gore. I'm not really sure. Both Carter and his predecessors were absolutely mistaken.

There was no shortage of energy we had was a shortage of vision. What we had was a loss of confidence in our ability to innovate. That's Deputy US energy secretary Dan Brule speaking recently in Raleigh for the Jesse Helms setter Brule next pointed to the turning point in American energy policy.

So how do we create, how do we get here.

If we had the loss of vision. How do we get here will part of the answer is yes, we began simply innovating. But before we could do that, we had to do something else that was big and we did it. America had to fully abolish its price controls on energy in a series of steps that the gun that was begun during Ronald Reagan's presidency and it continued through the 1980s and the 1990s, the prices of oil and eventually natural gas were fully the control and once those price regulations were removed. Innovation became profitable and in the years and decades that followed a number of states further increased and further ignited that progress, cutting taxes, simplifying regulations state after state after state after state provided even further incentives to innovate in with this innovation came a revolution in technology, layoff, or kudos to a state known for its private sector innovation. The major breakthroughs that we are seeing today in hydraulic fracturing of horizontal drilling which led to our natural gas boom boom across this country began in the state of Texas at the Department of Energy, energy in our national laboratories, of which we have 17 research and development help not only make this technology Paul possible hydraulic fracturing, but others as well, unleashing every energy source that America has from fossil fuels to renewables supply rose cost fill efficiencies increased and energy diversity expanded and as a result, the United States is now the number one combined oil and gas producer in the world this year. Crude oil production in the United States is said to be our highest in our nations history were now producing 10 million barrels per day. Next year that's expected to go to 11, the year after that 12 million barrels per day. Technological advances or driving the growth of renewables as well from refrigerators to LED lighting.

There also increasing energy efficiency in the same technology revolution is making our fuels, even cleaner from 2005 to 2017. We led the world in reducing carbon emissions cutting them by 14% over that period of time and we did it with innovation without sacrificing our economy and without the Paris courts places the trump administration and Congress have taken steps that will lead to even more benefits for the energy industry that includes tax reform cutting the corporate tax alone. 21% was absolutely revolutionary, it will reduce the cost of doing business.

It will make America more competitive. It will bring American jobs whole it will encourage more innovation, more investment, and yes, more energy of every kind right here in America.

Regulatory reform helps to for every new regulation. This administration has removed 22 exhibit the warm coal is replaced with strong support for clean coal technologies. He supported research and development on renewables energy storage battery storage energy efficiency, and we seek to reinvigorate America's outstanding nuclear energy sector. Today we stand on the cost of energy independence, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. It means we no longer have to depend on the world's volatile regions for rented energy. It means our energy supplies no longer insecure. It means our economy is no longer prone to skyrocketing energy inflation. It means we no longer have to fear boycotts from foreign suppliers. It means we no longer have to bow down to dictators.

It means no nation or entity can ever hold our foreign policy hostage again for its oral it means president can presidents can finally formulate foreign policy with their hands untied, it means they can base your decisions on what they believe to be best for our nation and its interests, its values and its principles. Brule says there's a political advantage to the United States becoming an energy exporter by exporting our energy. We can liberate our friends and allies from dependence on unfriendly nations that will very energy supply as a political weapon. We can strengthen the hand of friends like Ukraine, which is vulnerable to Putin's Russia. We can increase our own Geo geopolitical influence in that process and there's even more potential good news to relate as well. We can also import or export our energy technology. The same technology that unleashed the revolution here in the US we can share with the world. That's Deputy US energy secretary Dan Brule speaking recently of Raleigh for the Jesse Helms setter term with North Carolina journal radio with a moment if you have 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.

North Carolina's freedom movement and North Carolina You'll find links to John Locke foundation blocks on the days news Carolina reporting and quick takes Carolina journal radio interviews TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. 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. That's right, all in one place North Carolina that's North Carolina spelled out North Carolina

Try it today. North Carolina is changing not just day-to-day but outward to our minute to minute and 2nd to 2nd, how can you keep up with the changes, especially the ones that affect you, your family, your home, your job, make the John lock foundation and Carolina journal part of your social media diet on Facebook like the John Locke foundation like Carolina. Journal follow us on Twitter at John Locke in C and at Carolina journal news, insights and analysis you'll find nowhere else. Thanks to the experts at the John Locke foundation and thanks to the first-class investigative reporting of Carolina journal.

Don't wait for the morning newspaper. Don't wait for the evening news if it's happening now it's happening here the John Locke foundation and Carolina journal. Have you covered with up to the second information like us on Facebook the John Locke foundation and Carolina journal follow us on Twitter at John Locke in C and at Carolina journal did you know you can now advance freedom and free markets just by shopping with Amazon it's true online shopping is now a great way to support the John Locke foundation just shot using the Amazon smile program and designate the work foundation to receive a portion of your purchase amount that's right you shop and Amazon donates money to us. The John Locke foundation is how it works long time to Amazon smile. It's the same Amazon you know same products same prices is much better. Amazon donates .5% of the price of your eligible purchases to pass the John Locke foundation to try and be sure to designate the Locke foundation is a nonprofit, you want to support. It's that easy. So now not only will you enjoy what you buy will also support freedom. Don't forget log on to today by something nice and help defend freedom. Support the John Locke foundation. Welcome back Carolina journal radio amateur coca. Should the process of appointing state judges involved more than just the governor, state legislators think so. Republican Sen. Warren Daniel recently reminded colleagues that governors have abused their appointment power. Daniel remembers when Democratic Gov. Beverly Purdue just before leaving office appointed former staffers to the bench even though they had no judicial experience. Gov. Perdue is far from the only governor to do these things govern record Gov. Hunt that it governor is is been done both by Republicans and Democrats is wrong is a violation of the public trust. One person with no accountability picking judges is wrong creates all sorts possible conflicts of interest and potential ethical problems.

This process does not instill public confidence in the judiciary of the current process is also been used to circumvent the will of the voters and duly held elections. Judges are often rejected by voters and then put right back on the bench by the governor.

What's important is that we currently have a judicial vacancy selection process allows a single person to potentially override the will of the voters in both local and statewide elections. That is why we need the judicial vacancy sunshine amendment.

Daniel says the amendment would not affect judicial elections, the people of North Carolina continue to favor the right to elect their judges, especially at the local level and to our current system of selecting judges to fill vacancies is probably the most undemocratic paternalistic process that we can have the new process would involve a new appointed committee to vent judicial candidates. That's not enough to convince Democratic Sen. Jay Chaudhary, the fact remains that the general assembly ultimately controls and decides what nominees to recommend to the governor appointment. This is yet another legislative power grab this constitutional amendment will result in cronyism, partisanship and backroom deals. And if you need an example, let's look at South Carolina were as recently as 2000. Every member of the South Carolina Supreme Court was a member of the general assembly.

Now, I dare ask how many lawyer legislators in this chamber will now be appointed to the bench with the passage of the bill. This is not a judicial commission at the legislative appointment commission and here's the result. We will see more members of the judiciary become a retirement home for former general assembly members, and so yes, our current system maybe may not be a perfect one. But this amendment is an even more imperfect when this claims to be called the judicial vacancy sunshine amendment only thing that's vacant here is our sense of democracy, despite opposition from Chaudhary and fellow Democrats. The idea moves forward to North Carolina's ballot in November will return with more Carolina journal radio 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. We guarantee great information and a good time that's listen to Carolina journal radio each week and listened Locke to remember, you can listen to head or subscriber download each week iTunes Carolina journal radio and headlock just what you need to stay informed and stay entertained both brought to you in the name of freedom by the John Locke foundation back Carolina journal radio. I mixed coca lots of interesting news involving the state treasurer's office and that's why we bring in what's good Carolina journal radio state treasurer Dale Falwell will go back to the program with thanks for having me and all across the state, fear of people who get information off your show.

So thank you for the service. One of the things that is of interest to everyone is rising health insurance costs and one of the things that the treasurer's office is been involved with is having some benefit in that regard dealing with Medicare advantage tell us about well the other state health plan of North Carolina is the largest purchaser of healthcare and pharmaceutical benefits in our state of nearly 720,000 of the North Carolina use depend on us for healthcare because of their active or retired state employees. What were trying to do the treasurer's office because we have a $35 billion unfunded liability that's right behind Illinois on a per capita basis that you report on occasionally is that were trying to take advantage of our largeness and sign contracts. The benefit of our participants are retirees and our taxpayers. We did that with her Medicare advantage program that these are retirees over 65 of the reason the that not all of our retirees as there is no minimum retirement age. The pension plan so retire earlier but what we did is we are renegotiated that says this year will have a 30% reduction in our premium that we pay and were were were finished. There's no deductibles or snow co-pays and the state has no more medical exposure to these individuals based on this contract.

Now won't undo the $55 million in savings is where you're going to freeze for the second straight year family premiums for state employees. Now that doesn't mean a lot to Roy Williams Dale Falwell but it means a lot to the beginning teacher beginning trooper beginning state employee who have to work five days out every work month this year to pay the family premium so were going to at least freeze family premiums for the second straight year winter biases. Healthcare premiums are going up. We all look at an opportunity to vex for reducing premiums of the reason for doing this. Is this playing is right now in a nosedive left wings down the right wings up and the left-wingers people my age and above we have to attract younger, healthier people to stay health plan. We think by lowering family premiums. That's a good way of doing that. And even if it doesn't work it's the right thing to do on behalf of our employees and it's all the result of taken advantage of our largeness, which is what were doing and stay health plan and that this treasurer's office. In general, that's a pretty big significant savings so it doesn't seem like that would be one that would be easy to achieve. Why is North Carolina not been able to do this in the past come up with that big big chunk of savings that you just were the biggest part of the savings came as a result of Congress putting back in the freezer something called health insurance tax of talk to you on the show before it's a tax that most of your listeners on the other guy get hit with it's a premium tax on medical insurance policies your listeners are probably asked themselves was a treasure. Talk about this. It's the status of nonprofit while they pay that tax because it does impact us so about 42 million of that was a result of that tax be put in the freezer sunset for next year. I have and continue to try to get her contract congressional delegation as well as Pres. Trump would have personally written a letter to get this repeal for 18 also, so that's a part of. But secondly, this contract has a profit-sharing arrangement something else you've never heard of and state government, so that if these retirees are healthier than what the insurance company or even we thought they would be when we price this if the profit is over a certain amount the state gets a 50-50 profit-sharing with the insurance company.

So not only do we lower premiums dramatically. We took advantage of our largeness, but we also have a profit-sharing arrangement so that a far retired members are really healthier than we thought and we get part of that money back. Also that dovetails in really well with our watchdog mentality right now our only shot a curious $35 billion unfunded healthcare liability is to turn these participants in the watchdogs we have to give them the tools so that they can analyze the value and the price of healthcare because right now I'm like everything else that your listeners do. They don't consume healthcare in the state.

It consumes them and were going to try to change that. Stay health plan that is the voice of state treasurer Dale Falwell. You have now referenced twice.

The big multibillion-dollar unfunded liability and effect first time around, said that, on a per capita basis were just behind Illinois.

No one wants to be in that position.

What other things are you looking at, and you want the general assembly to look at the help you with this well a lot of things that we can do internally number one were coming out with an employee benefit statement that shows the true value of these benefits as smart as they are and as hard as they work most state employees don't know the true annual cost and the value of this benefit is overcoming out an employee benefit statement that actually shows the map. Secondly, we've redesigned the health insurance card for almost 40 years people carry the health insurance card around in their pocket, and it had the name Blue Cross Blue Shield on the front. The explanation of benefit they would get in the mail have Blue Cross Blue Shield. If for some reason they never paid a co-pay the check they got it. Blue Cross Blue Shield so why would people think that Blue Cross Blue Shield is the insurer.

They are not and never have been through the third-party minister, so the second piece of this is that we've redesigned the state health plan card so now it says your stay health plan paid for by you and taxpayers like you. We want the participants in this plan. The think is deeply about this when they pull out of pocket as they do one of these when I pull out of pocket we think we have a shot at turning them in the watchdogs and driving down the cost of healthcare and in the third part of this which I previously mentioned was explanation of benefit which the the benefit of anything we want our consumers to know the value the price of what they consumed healthcare so they can ask questions about whether they really receiving services not this is not the end. These are just the beginning. But up were very excited, and our participants are very excited because they do not want to get things in the mail or they don't know what what it means and were trying to push the power away from us and give all the 740,000 participants the tools they need for your listeners what is 740,000 participants made.

That is the equivalent of the US employment base of Berkshire Hathaway J.P. Morgan and Amazon combined.

We have the buying power were to be taken advantage of. We have just a little bit of time remaining, but are there other things that you want to see the general assembly take action on before they hit the road for the summer.

That would really help with this. The number one thing is the solvency bill you know North Carolina in the in the eyes of the rating agencies and I'm involved in the rating agencies right now because were getting ready to go to market with another $400 million worth of bond issuance they get accolades for the rainy day fund.

They get accolades for the unemployment trust fund they get accolades of having budget surplus, but the two final things that need to be cured North Carolina the unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities. So there's a piece of legislation sitting in the Senate right now where we are and have a solvency fund would be one of the first if not the first United States where we start putting money aside for these unfunded liabilities and I can tell you that long-term that will make a generational difference in the future of North Carolina and it will set North Carolina on a path that any company.

This think about expanding or relocating our state there can be asked themselves the questions was the unfunded liability of the other state were thinking about going to take treasurer Dale Falwell. Thanks much for joining us. Thank you for having on Carolina journal radio just 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 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. We reach more than 1 million N. Carolinians each month so make sure you're one of them. Our monthly print edition arrives in your mailbox every month. Our online daily news site Carolina has fresh stories, opinion pieces, and more.

The award-winning Carolina Journal team I reporters make government accountable to you. Call 1866 JL FINF0 for your free subscription, welcome back to Carolina journal radio I'm Donna Martinez, North Carolina's renewable energy in vestment tax credit program actually ended about 2 1/2 years ago, but despite the fact that the program is officially over, the state actually paid out $454 million in the subsidies over the past two years, including 245 million during 2016 alone. So what's going on with the program that is officially dead but still costing taxpayers money.

Dan way is associate editor of Carolina journal. He's been reporting on this story and joins us now. Dan welcome back. What is this program to begin with. Will is a major subsidy program to the renewable energy industry was 35% tax credit issued to entities that invest in renewable projects.

This been going on for a long time started in 2010 first payouts were being made in 2010 of the program actually sunset at the end of 2015. So it's sunset it but yet according to your report in Carolina journal. It's still paying out money so that the head scratcher for me. How's that work the Lazarus effect and so when this law was drafted but put it on the usual provision in there that allows these credits to carry forward for five years so you and I are doing our taxes we have to claim our deductions that tax year. This allows them to use that tax credit over the course of five years so they don't use it all. This year they can roll over the next year to next year if they program officially ended in December 2015. It really won't end, we could potentially be paying things out until December 2020 and later than that because the legislature then went back and created a safe harbor act in 2016 for projects are in the pipeline, but didn't get all the necessary approvals because of backlogs and getting all these things run through the last minute so if they had a certain amount of the project completed. They were then eligible for this safe harbor act so that added some time to it in the last budget year. Last year the legislature also added some bio renewable provisions that will extend that credit retroactively to some of these folks even though the program is officially dead.

Pretty interesting. Now, economists will tell us that if you subsidize something you're going to get more of it. What impact has this program had on North Carolina in terms of the renewable energy industry. This was probably the main driver for industry and in your right. If you give money to something people want to take advantage of Not a big surprise when this but you have to remember is just one of many provisions one very many lucrative deals of the renewable industry got on that help to propel North Carolina into the number two position nationally for the amount of solar capacity installed in your reporting you talk about test some of the major recipients of the renewable energy credit and one of them is in the energy industry so that sort of made sense to me.

The other one.

However, I don't think of as an energy firm. I'm talking about Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. How is it that they would qualify for this type of tax credit will talk to and they said that they actually did invest that money you get 35% tax credit back on Friday when whole hog on this and by law they had every right to do that whether or not this was wise policy for the taxpayers nothing on who end up filling that void is a separate question altogether summertime at health insurance company that made an investment then in some sort of renewable energy ability right in the year 2017 there were 41 entities that receive more than $1 million in tax credits all but four of those were big banks and big insurance companies truly fascinating because I would think that it would be Smith and Jones electric company or Smith and Jones biomass company. Here's here's 2017. So this is a very big hundreds or you hear a list of those who receive this and what you see is the individuals who are on their people like you and I might take some money invested their tax credits are really small.

The big players are doing the big money they made the biggest investments that are reaping the biggest rewards seeking a big player. We talked about Blue Cross. What about Duke baroness and do good well from the years 2014 2017 Duke and Blue Cross combined received 33% of all the tax credits issued by the state. Duke energy energy Duke University right okay how much you get the got 33% of all tax credits issued.

It was Blue Cross over that time got hundred $20 million in tax credits and energy had $117 million in tax credits from 2014 at 2070 will hear something that kind of wonder about this stand. If the program is officially dead. As of two and half years ago, but we know there's been several different actions that now allow these payouts to continue for several more years. Does that tell us that in the legislature.

There is or isn't an appetite to do this kind of thing. This kind of subsidy will is still very much alive is a debate over there. There have been attempts by some folks to resurrect this tax. I still think it's a good idea folks say we've Artie paid out $815 million. Still another possible 820 some million dollars that is outstanding that could be issued. So that's a lot of money since I got your budget.

Typically, I know in in in your reporting and reporting of others as well and there tend to be arguments for this in arguments again against instant obviously this is a public policy issue, give us a sense of the people who support this.

Sam widely supported. Well I think there's a lot of money to be had here, the sustainable energy folks certainly are foreign. They think that this is the wave of the future and the people who would oppose it would be those who say we're giving an unfair advantage to a particular segment of the market. If they are as good as a center they should live and die on their own abilities, not subsidy of the taxpayer. People might be thinking that well the Republicans are in charge of the general assembly right now and who knows what will happen in the November election that possibly could change, but for now, one would think that there would be more of an appetite to end this kind of thing because of sesame fiscal conservatives who talk about raining and spending and having more respect for the taxpayer but it manages to creep along and still be alive well even among Republicans.

Note renewable energy.

Solar panels are shiny bobble is politically, culturally popular lotto.

Not everyone understands all intricacies of the funding so you do, which is why this is a great story for folks to read a Carolina headline is expired. Renewable tax credit program still paying out millions even though this program officially ended December 31, 2015 the state of North Carolina, having paid $454 million in subsidies in the past two years and 245 million in 2016 alone we were talking to the reporter and editor has worked on this story.

He is Dan White with Carolina journal. Thank you so much. Thank you again for she can read the story and Carolina is all the time we have for Carolina journal radio this week you for listening on behalf of my cohost Mitch. Okay I'm Donna Martinez hope to join us again next week for another edition. Carolina journal radio Carolina journal radio is a program of the job. To learn more about the John Locke foundation including donations support programs like Carolina journal radio send email to development 1866 GLS info 166-553-4636 journal radio station airline is maintained. Carolina running system.

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