State's economy, business climate a hot topic at forum

Oct 10, 2016

After a recent candidate forum sponsored by The Mountaineer featuring candidates in the three legislative districts representing all or a portion of Haywood County residents, there was a lot of head-shaking.

Several attendees commented that it seemed as if candidates were in different worlds as far as the issues they focused on and how these issues impacted the citizens.

As part of our ongoing election coverage, The Mountaineer will be striving to track down how these six candidates can stand behind such opposing sets of facts to make a case for their election or re-election.

In the first forum, the discussion between 119th House District Rep. Joe Sam Queen, a Democrat, and Mike Clampitt, his Republican challenger, the business climate in North Carolina and the well-being of its citizenry were a large part of the back-and-forth.

Clampitt argued that under Republican leadership since 2010 when his party won majorities in chambers and the governorship, the state’s business climate has flourished.

There’s plenty of research that corroborates this claim.

A search of the various indexes that track how states measure up on business topics shows that North Carolina’s corporate income tax is the lowest in the nation. The Tax Foundation’s Business Climate Index shows the state has jumped from 44th to 11th in the nation and as Clampitt contended, cuts to individual income taxes and unnecessary regulations have resulted in North Carolina being ranked as one of the fastest growing economies in the nation.

Queen didn’t dispute the business gains except to say that small business has been left behind. He instead argued that the changes have done nothing to benefit 85 percent of the citizens in the state. There has been no tax cut, but a tax shift, he argues, and the shift has allowed the very wealthiest citizens to pay less taxes while shifting the tax burden to those less able to afford it.

While the business climate in North Carolina may be terrific, research shows, that as Queen has argued, the effects of that have yet to trickle down to state residents.

North Carolina is 8th in the nation for the number of people living in poverty, 45th in the nation as far as median household income, 19th in the nation when it comes to how much of a person’s monthly income goes to housing cost and 48th in the nation for real income, state rankings show.

Statistics for both business and economic well being show that the arguments of each legislative candidate are founded in facts. They also go a long way to prove that much of how an individual looks at things, whether it is a candidate or a voter, depends on the frame of reference.

In the 119th district, where the party candidates are mirroring the talking points of the two major political parties in the state, one of the major campaign issues comes down to the state’s improved business climate and the impact of those changes.

As voters make a decision on who to support, keep in mind the issues each candidate champions and how their positions may translate into the concerns that are on the top of your priority list.