Fact Check: McCrory ad brags about flagging economy, reinstating seniors’ tax credit that he cut



Friday February 5th, 2016

Contact:  Ford Porter



Fact Check: McCrory ad brags about flagging economy, reinstating seniors’ tax credit that he cut


Raleigh, NC – Today, Governor Pat McCrory released his first campaign ad, glossing over the many failures of his administration and attempting to tie his flailing campaign to the Carolina Panthers Super Bowl season.

The ad appears to take place in a parallel universe, putting a positive spin on some of Governor McCrory’s most egregious failures in office, notably a rising unemployment rate in 2015 and the McCrory administration’s 2013 decision to eliminate the Medical Expenses Tax Deduction , causing countless seniors to struggle to afford their health care last year.

“Increasingly desperate and flailing in the polls, Governor McCrory’s campaign strategy is evidently to just pretend his record doesn’t exist. The reality is that thanks to Pat McCrory, seniors’ medical costs have sky rocketed, families are paying higher taxes, and our best teachers are leaving for other states.

 If the McCrory campaign refuses to even acknowledge the challenges facing middle class families, it’s no wonder voters are ready to send the governor packing,” said NCDP spokesman Ford Porter.


FACT CHECK: McCrory “Keep Pounding” Ad

TITLE “Keep Pounding”
MEDIA 0:30 Television Spot
DATE 2/5/16
(0:01) “North Carolina is working again. Unemployment is down from our mountains to our coast.”



On Screen: North Carolina: 260,000 New jobs, unemployment lower in every county”








North Carolina’s Unemployment Rate Increased In 2015, From 5.4% To 5.6%. “North Carolina finished 2015 with a higher overall unemployment rate than it began the year, another sign that the job market recovery has reached a plateau. The N.C. Commerce Department reported Tuesday the state jobless rate was 5.6 percent in December. Although a slight improvement from 5.7 percent in November, the rate was up from 5.4 percent in December 2014. It has been between 5.6 percent and 5.9 percent since May.” [Winston-Salem Journal, 1/26/15]


·         North Carolina’s Unemployment Rate Currently Ranks 39th In The Country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December 2015 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in North Carolina ranked 39th at 5.6 percent. [U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Unemployment Rates for States, December 2015]


North Carolina’s Economic Growth Lags the Nation and the Southeast.


North Carolina’s Median Income Is $6,873 Less Than The National Average.  According to census bureau data,the median income for the United States was $53,657 in 2014, compared with $46,784 in North Carolina. [US Census Bureau, Median Household Income by State – Single Year Estimates (1984-2014), accessed 10/2/15]


North Carolina’s Economic Growth Is Down From 2013, Lags The Nation And The Southeast. WRAL reported, “According to the BEA’s GDP figures for 2014, North Carolina’s economic growth last year was 1.4 percent – definitely in the black, but well below this year’s national average growth rate of 2.2 percent and far short of the state’s 2.3 percent growth in 2013. It’s also below the regional average for the Southeast, which is 1.7 percent. South Carolina, by comparison, posted a 2.2 percent growth rate. Georgia’s GDP grew 2.3 percent, and Florida’s grew 2.7 percent. Overall, North Carolina’s growth rate was seventh out of the 12 Southeastern states and was ranked 25th nationally.” [WRAL, 6/12/15]


Non-Partisan Study Ranked NC 41st In Economic Outcomes For Residents: “Many North Carolinians Are Still On Shakier Footing Than The Rest Of The Country.” According to the N&O, “North Carolina still lags behind other states when it comes to the economic well-being of its residents, a study found, despite the fact that the national and state economies have strengthened considerably during the five-year recovery. The state ranks 41st in terms of overall outcomes of its residents, according to an analysis published Thursday from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The report evaluated states on 67 criteria related to finances, employment, housing, health care and education. The report underscores how the disproportionate growth of low-wage jobs, as well as lower education attainment and health care coverage, means many North Carolinians are still on a shakier economic footing than the rest of the country.” [News & Observer, 1/30/15]

(0:06) “Families are paying less in taxes.”


On Screen: “4.4 Billion Tax Cuts over Five Years”



HEADLINE: “AP Factcheck: Many Pay More Under New N.C. Tax Laws.” [AP, 12/30/13]


1. AP Factcheck: “The Tax Reform Package Also Eliminates Several Exemptions And Deductions That Benefited Working Class Taxpayers.” [AP, 12/30/13]


·         Charlotte Observer Editorial: “The GOP’s Tax Reform Vision: It Shifts The Tax Burden From The Wealthy Companies And Individuals To Smaller Businesses And Rank-And-File Taxpayers…” [Charlotte Observer, editorial, 5/6/15]


2. McCrory Raised The Gas Tax To Bring In An Additional $1.2 Billion From North Carolina Taxpayers Over Four Years. In March 2015, WRAL reported, “Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday signed legislation that will cut the state gas tax in the short term but raise it in the long run.” In February 2015 WRAL reported, “According to legislative staff, the tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $237 million in 2015-16 to the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund. In 2016-17, it would yield an additional $261 million. Over four years, it’s projected to raise an additional $1.2 billion, which Senate leaders say would help pay for the $1.2 billion transportation bond proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory.”[WRAL, 3/31/15; WRAL, 2/10/15]


3. McCrory Instituted A 6.75% Sales Tax On Repair, Maintenance And Installation Services. “Taxpayers receiving a $50 cut won’t benefit from the lower rate if they spend more than $750 on repair, maintenance or installation fees during that calendar year. The 6.75 percent sales tax rate in many counties will increase the cost of a $750 repair to $800.” (News & Observer, 9/19/15; H97, signed 9/18/15].


·         Star News Editorial: Most Workers Earning $30,000 To $40,000 Per Year Spend About $630 A Year On Repair And Maintenance. “A quick check of federal statistics found that most workers earning $30,000 to $40,000 pay about $630 a year for repair and maintenance services. New sales taxes, then, will just about wipe out their income tax cut. If they have a bad year — say, the family car turns out to be a lemon, or the refrigerator breaks — they could easily wind up paying more.” [Editorial, Star News, 10/10/15]


(0:09) “We’ve helped seniors with medical bills.”


On Screen: “Helped Seniors”



HEADLINE:N.C. Tax Reform Hitting Seniors Hard [Editorial, Charlotte Observer, 3/13/15]


News & Observer Editorial: “Many Retired People Are Discovering That The Tax Cuts Are A Tax Hike. The Changes Reduced Exemptions For Pensions And Eliminated The Deduction For Medical Expenses.” The News & Observer editorial board wrote, “The news changes involve tax cuts that favor high earners and corporations. North Carolina’s economy is recovering along with the nation’s economy, but there’s no sign of corporations racing to relocate to North Carolina or wealthy ‘job creators’ creating jobs. Meanwhile, tax revenues are running below projections, and many retired people are discovering that the tax cuts are a tax hike. The changes reduced exemptions for pensions and eliminated the deduction for medical expenses. As they do their taxes, seniors are howling when they reach the bottom line.” [Editorial, News & Observer, 3/12/15]


Charlotte Observer Editorial: “The GOP’s Tax Reform Vision: It Shifts The Tax Burden From The Wealthy Companies And Individuals To Smaller Businesses And Rank-And-File Taxpayers Such As The Senior Citizens Who Lost Medical Expense Deductions.” “That means surging collections from small businesses and individual taxpayers – not corporations – turned the deficit forecast into a surplus. All of which points back to the concern this editorial board and other critics have long held about the GOP’s tax reform vision: it shifts the tax burden from wealthy companies and individuals to smaller businesses and rank-and-file taxpayers such as the senior citizens who lost medical expense deductions.” [Editorial, Charlotte Observer, 5/6/15]


The General Assembly Restored The Senior Citizen Medical Expense Deduction In 2015. According to Lumina News, “Most lawmakers were steadfast in refusing to undo the previous year’s tax changes when Catlin unsuccessfully sought to reinstate the deductions last year, she said. But when the legislature reconsidered the preservation tax credits, it also opened the door to reinstate and expand the medical deduction. The measure passed, and will apply to 2015 income tax returns. An effort to make the change retroactive to 2014 was unsuccessful.” [Lumina News, 10/21/15]


(0:11)“We’ve raised teacher pay.”


On Screen: “Raised teacher pay”



42nd in Teacher Pay: NC teacher salary is $9,596 less than national average, ranked 42nd. (NEA Ranking the States 2015)


McCrory’s Teacher Pay Raise Left Out 2/3 Of North Carolina Teachers, And Only Raised New Teacher Salaries To $35,000. “About a third of North Carolina teachers would see state-funded raises under Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal, according to a analysis by the Department of Public Instruction. According to the DPI breakdown,13,824 of those would be relatively new teachers – in their first five years of work – or about 15 percent of the 90,646 state-funded teachers expected in the 2015-16 budget. Those new teachers would see their state-funded minimum salary rise to $35,000.”. [WRAL, 3/10/15]


HEADLINE: “NC Teacher Pay Remains Below National Average, Survey Says.[News & Observer, 3/18/15]


NC Teacher Pay Still Ranks in Bottom 10, Only Beating Mississippi and West Virginia In The Southeast. According to WRAL, “Despite an effort to raise starting salaries, North Carolina is expected to remain in the bottom 10 states nationally in average teacher pay, according to a report released Wednesday. The National Education Association estimates the average salary for a North Carolina public school teacher in the 2014-15 school year at $47,783, which ranks 42nd nationally.” [WRAL, 3/18/15]


(0:13) “There is still work to do, but we have a Carolina Comeback for sure. We just don’t always get the respect we’ve earned. Well there is one solution, Keep Pounding Panthers, and have a Super Day.” MOST NORTH CAROLINIANS AREN’T FEELING THE CAROLINA COMEBACK


News & Observer Editorial: “Mccrory Is Going To Have To Make More Of A Case Than Claiming Credit For An Economic Rebound That For Many North Carolinians Isn’t As Great As The Governor Seems To Think It Is.” “And what about the Carolina Comeback? Yes, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.7 percent from the 8.7 rate when McCrory took office in January 2013, but 37 other states still have lower rates than North Carolina. In arguing for a second term, McCrory is going to have to make more of a case than claiming credit for an economic rebound that for many North Carolinians isn’t as great as the governor seems to think it is. Many who have found jobs are underemployed, recent tax cuts have favored the wealthy and big corporations and public schools are underfunded.” [Editorial, News & Observer, 12/2/15]