By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
August 19, 2016
Following the passage of HB 2, commonly known as “the bathroom bill,” the headlines since March have predicted dire consequences for the state’s economy. Opponents claim conventions, concerts, sports events, and business cancellations, along with boycotts and losses in tourism seriously injure the state’s economy. Therefore, they say HB 2 must be repealed.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has argued the measure puts “North Carolina’s economy at risk.” Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality N.C., says that it weakens the state’s “competitive edge.”
These assertions don’t square with the numbers according to State Budget Director, Andrew Heath and John E. Skvarla, the state’s Secretary of Commerce.
In an August 9th opinion piece titled, Don’t Believe the Hype: HB 2 Hasn’t Hurt N.C. Economy, Heath says that one of the benefits of his job is that he’s a numbers guy and not a politician. He says that he’s asked by credit rating agencies and various groups to give updates on the state’s economy and sometimes he gets a question about HB 2. He adds that the questions “are generally fueled by a false narrative that the law is having a devastating economic impact.”
Heath writes, “The narrative has been so consistently pushed by advocacy groups that people are having an emotional response to it rather than basing what they believe on the facts. In the budget office, however, we are data-driven and do not base our positions on emotion, anecdotal evidence or speculation about the state’s reputation in elite circles.”
The economic indicators “overwhelmingly show North Carolina’s strong economic performance both before and after HB 2,” says Heath, “North Carolina has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation.”
He adds that regardless of one’s position on HB 2, the hype about HB 2’s economic damage is “mostly speculative, and unquantifiable, and pales in comparison” to the positive impact of the pro-growth policies Republicans have passed in the General Assembly that have resulted in the “creation of 300,000 net new jobs since 2013.”
Heath sites the following progress since HB 2 passed in March:
- Almost 5,000 new jobs created. (Again, this is since the passage of HB 2 in March.)
- Moody’s reports the state’s 2016 year-to-date revenue growth outpaces the 20 largest states’ average by a margin of 2-to-1.
- The state’s unemployment rate has fallen to its pre-recession rate of 4.9% and has fallen in every county since 2013.
- S&P, Moody’s and Fitch has affirmed the state’s Triple A credit rating, “citing the state’s continued diverse economic expansion.”
- CNBC has moved North Carolina from number 9 to number 5 in its rankings of best state’s for business.
- The Tar Heel state ended its fiscal year with a $425 million revenue surplus.
Heath concludes that HB 2 may be a political election year issue, but it’s not been a negative for North Carolina’s economy.
Commerce Secretary, John Skvarla III, affirmed the same in a similar opinion piece, Despite HB 2 Head-Fake, N.C. Economy is Tops.
He reports that North Carolina is the “No. 1 state in the Southeastern U.S. for manufacturing employment.”
“We lead the entire nation in bio-manufacturing jobs, whose average annual salaries are nearly $90,000” he reports.
Skvarla maintains the following:
“When measured against the nation and the world, North Carolina’s economy compares well. Our $508 billion gross domestic product (GDP) earns us the position of America’s ninth-largest economy and the 23rd largest on Earth. Our GDP growth rate since 2013 currently makes us the nation’s fourth-fastest growing economy.
“And, icing on the cake, the state’s enviable fiscal health came amid historic reforms to both personal and corporate taxes. Those changes also resulted in the dramatic improvement in North Carolina’s business climate ranking from the Tax Foundation – from 44th in 2013 to 15th today.
“And this success is likely to endure. Major investments in economic infrastructure include upgrades to transportation systems and long-overdue improvements to our state park system, a resource that is among the quality-of-life assets that make North Carolina a top state for in-migration.
“Also critical are the new classroom and lab buildings soon to be under construction at our community colleges and universities as part of the Connect NC bond package. With the emphasis in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, these facilities will create a 21st century talent force that most states will find impossible to match.”
Skvarla concludes the opposition to HB 2 is “one of the cleverest head-fakes in recent political history.”
“Arguably, North Carolina has the No. 1 performing economy in the United States,” he says.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the good news of North Carolina’s excellent fiscal health is verification that our arguments about HB 2 have been right and the opposition dead wrong.
“Back in the 1950s, the motto of the Christian Action League was, ‘That which is morally wrong cannot be economically or politically right,’ he said.
“Allowing men to use women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms, puts both women and children in situations of danger. Women and young girls shouldn’t be forced to undress or shower in the presence of men. Neither should the government single out private businesses and churches for punishments because they’re operating according to their deeply held religious beliefs. This moral wrong could never be made economically or politically right, no matter what the haters of HB 2 claim. HB 2 made what was wrong right, and, therefore, it’s what’s truly good for the economy and the people of North Carolina.”