North Carolina Republicans lost their General Assembly supermajorities in the 2018 midterms, and the GOP nationally lost ground in both legislatures and governorships after years of dominance in state capitals. So, as state lawmakers begin their 2019 sessions, should we expect dramatic chang…

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In any human enterprise as complex, varied and challenging as education, we shouldn’t expect a great deal of consensus, much less unanimity. Politicians, educators, parents and citizens debate education policy constantly not only because it is of crucial importance to our shared futures but …

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Although I write regularly about politics and public policy, my “day job,” so to speak, is to give money away. It’s not as easy as you might think.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

I was born in Charlotte. But I grew up in rural Mecklenburg County. There used to be such a place – and, indeed, quite a few such places still exist in our increasingly urbanized state.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

I have written a syndicated column on politics and public policy for North Carolina newspapers since 1986. Have I influenced how readers think about the issues I discuss? I certainly hope so, at least to some extent.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

North Carolina Republicans lost their General Assembly supermajorities in the 2018 midterms, and the GOP nationally lost ground in both legislatures and governorships after years of dominance in state capitals. So, as state lawmakers begin their 2019 sessions, should we expect dramatic chang…

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Want yet one more signal that American politics has changed markedly in the past decade? Look no further than the annual report card issued by the Cato Institute to grade the fiscal performance of the nation’s state governors.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

As another year begins, following a year of Democratic resurgence in both national and local politics, I offer this challenge to incumbent and newly elected lawmakers alike. Do you really want to be leaders? Or do you just want to be politicians?

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Where is the best place to find good employment opportunities in the technology industry? According to a new study by the Computer Technology Industry Association, it’s not Silicon Valley. It’s North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

If critics of Confederate monuments truly want to accomplish their goal of removing such objects from the public square, I’m a good example of the kind of person they ought to be trying to persuade.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

When conservatives advocate lower taxes and less regulation, their critics often retort that conservatives are just advancing the interest of business.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

If I told you that North Carolina had one of America’s top-ranked systems of public education, there are at least three ways you could respond.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

North Carolina continues to be a popular destination for people across the country – and around the world – who are looking for a great place to live, work, invest, rear families, and retire. At the same time, our rate of population growth has been slowing down. If current trends continue, N…

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When explaining modern American conservatism to students, both young and not-so-young, I mix my methods. There are tables and charts. There are lengthy readings from ancient, medieval, and modern thinkers. There are philosophical arguments. And there are stories, lots of stories – comedies, …

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

If North Carolina Democrats hoped – and North Carolina Republicans feared – that a Roy Cooper administration would represent a clean break from the administration of former Gov. Pat McCrory, both sides have good reason to revise their expectations.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Peer pressure has been the reason, or at least the rationalization, for many a youthful indiscretion – not that I would know from personal experience. Actually, the effect doesn’t dissipate when kids grow up. People of all ages respond to social cues and peer competition. It’s the way our br…

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Since 2010, when voters put Republicans in charge of most state governments across the United States, North Carolina became one of about a half-dozen states where conservative reformers have frequently – and sometimes spectacularly – faced off with progressives in ways that have attracted si…

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

In the 1969 parody “Support Your Local Sheriff!,’’ James Garner plays a skilled but somewhat-disreputable gunslinger who stumbles his way into the job of sheriff in a Colorado frontier town. During one escapade, the mayor, played by Harry Morgan, shakes his head and remarks that “I guess you…

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

With an unpopular president in the White House, a spate of incumbent retirements in competitive seats, and a relentless drumbeat of media hits against them, Republicans are clearly heading into a risky election cycle. So why are GOP leaders, particularly here in North Carolina, feeling cauti…

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

If you recently read or heard about North Carolina ranking 40th in “education” and found that rank plausible, I thank you for keeping up with the news. If you saw that story and found North Carolina’s low ranking implausible, I thank you even more energetically for being both informed and du…

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

President Donald Trump’s claims about voter fraud are preposterous. No credible evidence suggests that millions of people cast illegal ballots, or that candidates who outpoll rivals by several percentage points can accomplish that by fraud under modern election administration.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

While 2017 was a good and productive year for many public and private institutions in North Carolina, it was a tragic year for our prison system.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

When Congress enacted tax reform a few weeks ago, the final product bore a striking resemblance to the state tax changes North Carolina’s legislature has enacted since 2013. That’s no accident. Our state’s influence on national politics and policy has been growing for years – a trend likely …

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Public safety is the first and foremost responsibility of government. North Carolinians want their public officials to do what is required – pass laws, appropriate funds, administer courts and prisons – to protect our persons and property.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Josephus Daniels, one of the most prominent North Carolinians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, played a key role in a story that often circulates around Christmastime. He’s not exactly its hero, but in the end Daniels makes the right call – and thus helps to save the celebration of…

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

North Carolina has collected less state revenue so far than projected for the 2017-18 fiscal year, to the tune of about $134 million. Alarm about this would be premature – we’ve learned in recent years not to panic based on only a few months of data – but the trend does illustrate the need f…

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

North Carolina has already accomplished what Republicans in Washington want to pass – historic tax reform that caps or eliminates special-interest deductions, cuts tax rates, and encourages investment, business formation and job creation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If you are involved in politics and public policy in North Carolina, I have some unwelcome news: lots of North Carolinians are dissatisfied with the quality of our political discourse and leadership.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

North Carolinians would experience large gains in after-tax income under the tax-reform bill released last week in Washington, according to an initial analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Should public schoolteachers be compensated as professionals? All four panelists at a recent “Hometown Debate” staged at the Old Post Office Playhouse in Newton agreed that teachers should, indeed, be treated this way. But the panelists didn’t all mean the same thing by “compensated as profe…

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

During the 2016 gubernatorial campaign, Democratic politicians, progressive activists, and left-leaning media outlets excoriated Pat McCrory and other North Carolina Republicans for elevating divisive social disputes above the issues that most voters care most about, such as creating jobs an…

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

State Sen. Rick Horner can quip with the best of them. During a recent debate about school construction needs in North Carolina, the Wilson County lawmaker and former school-board chairman argued that the state lottery ought to fulfill its original mandate by producing more money for local f…

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Democrats, progressive activists, and left-leaning editorialists haven’t liked past ideas from Republicans to change the way North Carolina’s elections are run. They haven’t liked voter-identification laws, they haven’t liked reattaching partisan labels to judicial elections, and they don’t …

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

John Locke was wrong. You might be surprised to see the chairman of the John Locke Foundation make that admission, but venerating a historical figure and applying his ideas to modern problems requires neither perfection in that human being (which is impossible) nor slavish devotion to his ev…

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The annual testing data and report cards for North Carolina’s public schools are out. Here are the headlines. Achievement rose in some areas and declined in others, with most changes being fairly small. Our graduation rate continued to rise, but other data suggest some of these graduates are…

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Republicans and conservatives are growing more doubtful about the notion that higher education is a constructive social institution. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 56 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents think that colleges and universities have a negative effe…

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

North Carolina is a national leader in conservative reform of state governance – a fact that, as you might expect, pleases conservatives and horrifies progressives in the Tar Heel State.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

How should North Carolina be governed? The same question can be asked about any other state in America, or any other country in the world. It’s a critical question. It lies at the heart of nearly every specific political dispute you can think of, from education reform and environmental prote…

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

During the recently completed legislative session, the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to enact a new budget for state government. Here are five facts you need to know about the spending plan and its potential effects on you, your …

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

I know many Democrats and progressives who continue to be frustrated by the conservative Republicans who have controlled the North Carolina General Assembly since 2010.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

During the 2016-17 academic year, nearly one out of five North Carolina children were educated in settings other than district-run public schools. In Wake County and some other urban areas, the percentage was even higher.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a key orchestrator of protests against Republicans in the Tar Heel State, is a minister. He serves as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There are many different ideas about the best way to increase the growth of North Carolina’s economy. But this variation of opinions masks an important level of agreement on the basic building blocks of that growth.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column that outlined emerging threats to freedom of speech on college campuses — and noted with alarm that few of North Carolina’s public or private universities had taken the necessary steps to ensure even a basic level of protection for students, faculty, …

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The main reason Gov. Roy Cooper and other North Carolina Democrats cited for opposing the Republican-led legislature’s new budget plan was that it saved too much and cut taxes too much.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017