Chamber members’ opinions on government are as diverse as their businesses, based on the results of the 2014 Legislative Survey.
The closest that members came to consensus was that both Washington and Raleigh are moving in the “wrong direction” on laws, regulations, taxation and other government oversight of business. On a 10-point rating scale of right-to-wrong direction, the state, at 6.4, fared slightly better than its federal counterpart at 7.9.
When it came to the top three concerns on the federal front affecting business and industry, members said healthcare, taxes and regulations/ government waste topped the list.
The top three concerns on the state front were jobs/economic development, education and taxes, with healthcare a close fourth among the priorities.
There was even less agreement among members on one thing the state could for their business to help them create jobs.
To see a broad sampling of these suggestions and to read a more complete report of survey results,
The 2014 Legislative Survey
During February 2014, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey of the membership to determine their perspectives on the overall direction of state and federal governments regarding the business sector and legislative priorities for Washington and Raleigh. The following report of findings Includes representative comments from the survey on questions 3, 4, and 5.
1) Please indicate on a 1-10 scale whether you believe changes in FEDERAL laws, regulations, taxation and other government oversight of business are generally moving in the right or wrong direction (with 1 being “Right Direction” and 10 being “Wrong Direction”).
Overall result: 7.9 Wrong Direction
2) Please indicate on a 1-10 scale whether you believe changes in NORTH CAROLINA laws, regulations, taxation and other government oversight of business are generally moving in the right or wrong direction (with 1 being “Right Direction” and 10 being “Wrong Direction”).
Overall result: 6.4 Wrong Direction
3) In order of importance to you, please list your top three concerns or issues at the FEDERAL level affecting your business or industry. Results in order of prevalence:
Healthcare – Including “ObamaCare mandates,” overall costs; impact on small businesses, complexity; uncertainty, no real competition for plans in NC, mental health disparities, cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, “both parties need to work together” )
Taxes – “excessive,” complex, “business killing taxes and regulations,” disparities between salaries/benefits of federal vs. state employees
Regulations/Government Waste (Tied for third) – Cost to business, lack of clear direction, complex, too many regulations, regulations not keeping pace with changes in technology, influence peddling, too many incentives not to work, minimum wage proposals, environmental regulations, regulations on financial services
4) In order of importance to you, please list your top three concerns or issues at the STATE (i.e., NORTH CAROLINA) level affecting your business or industry. Results in order of prevalence:
Jobs/Economic Development – Lack of direction in economic development, need greater focus on creating job skills, need long-term solution to unemployment benefits and cost to business,” unfavorable laws to commercial and industrial development,” oppressive/unfavorable zoning and environmental laws/regulations, failing to address deteriorating infrastructure, economic development process needs streamlining, film incentive should continue, under-funding of Department of Tourism, “red tape” running off businesses, concerned over regulations limiting offshore drilling, taxes still to high to attract “:mega-industry,” economic stagnation in rural areas, too many regulations
Education – Teacher salaries and raises, cuts in education, need more accountability for school systems budget and curriculum, need more options for students who are not college-bound,
Taxes – Concerns over shifting tax burden to local governments, sales tax more fair than property tax, government waste, “additional sales taxes plus 5.8% income tax equate to more than I used to pay,”
A close fourth on this question was Healthcare – Costs, failure to expand Medicaid hurting business, need to implement Medicaid reform, Medicaid inefficiencies, lack of mental health reform leaving people homeless/without care/crowding emergency rooms, cherry-picking of insured patients from non- profit hospital by groups exempt from CON under proposed changes to law, completion of Broughton Hospital project, concerned over ObamaCare, assault on tax-exempt organizations, potential loss of tax-exempt status for non-profit hospitals, “Medicaid fiasco=less disposable income”
5) If the North Carolina General Assembly and/or the State of North Carolina could enact one change that would have the most positive impact on your company’s ability to create jobs, what would that change be?
- Stabilize funding for education and training programs that attract new jobs and meet the needs of existing business and industry.
- Adopt and stick with a proven business model for mental health that will survive changes in state administrations.
- Continue to lower the cost of doing business, including corporate tax rates, with the goal to becoming the most business friendly state east of the Mississippi.
- “Get rid of Obamacare.”
- “Stay out of my business.”
- Lower healthcare insurance rates and limit annual increases.
- Reduce state approvals needed in all areas of business.
- Enact true change in the economic development delivery system recognizing that to be competitive we need to move at the speed of business and create programs that businesses can actually use.
- Streamline major state departments – they are too cumbersome and offer very little customer service.
- Take out uncertainty in healthcare laws.
- Restructure economic development in our region by holding grant and award recipients accountable for funds taken and jobs not created. Funds could then be used for business development that is sustainable and growing.
- Run a campaign to current/potential businesses to waive state taxes for 8-10 years if they open a $XXXXXXXXX business in NC (similar to NY and MI)
- Expand Medicaid.
- Lift the dry county ban on Burke County.
- Provide increased coverage for special needs care. Current system is supposed to allow for this in reality it does not.
- Education reform.
- Workforce training and development.
- Incentives for buying American-made products.
- Medical malpractice reform.
- Focus more on trades training with funding and start at the high school level. The jobs are there and open but no one to fill them now. We need a skilled work ready work force to attract jobs.
- Give teachers a 10% pay increase.
- REGULATIONS!!!! From toilet paper makers to care giving, we are continuously hit with new and time consuming changes made by someone at the state level that does not even know the job at hand.
- Increase Medicaid rates to hospitals.
- Reduce the NC tax rate on capital gains.
- Fund Medicaid.
- STEM schools – more focus on math and engineering.
- Concentrate on providing internet access in rural areas.
- Eliminate corporate income taxes.
- Tax incentives to increase new industry in Burke County.
- Make Western Piedmont Community College into a four-year school, so that our young people could stay in our community upon graduation from high school.
- Continue tightening up the requirements to receive unemployment benefits.
Small Business or Organization – 44%
Medium-sized Business – 15%
Large Employer – 29%
Other – 21%