Fact Check: The truth behind the claims on affidavits, jobs

By John Frank and Austin BairdOctober 24, 2012 

Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory traded accusations about each other during the third gubernatorial debate Wednesday. Here are a few checks of the claims from the debates.

Claim: “(Dalton) has supported the exact same policies Gov. Beverly Perdue has enacted in the past four years that have failed and failed miserably and resulted in North Carolina having the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Speaker: Pat McCrory

Context: This election season, McCrory has repeatedly tried to link Dalton to the unpopular incumbent governor. In this statement, he makes two claims – one about Dalton’s ties to Perdue and the second about whether their administration is responsible for the state’s unemployment rate.

The first claim connecting the two Democrats is tenuous. Unlike other states, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. As lieutenant governor, Dalton’s main job is to preside over the state Senate, and he doesn’t collaborate often with the governor.

Dalton disagreed with at least three of Perdue’s recent vetoes, such as the legislation that put in place a framework for fracking in the state. He would have made it law. He also would have vetoed a bill concerning planning for the sea level rise, which Perdue signed. Dalton additionally disagreed with Perdue’s handling of a Department of Transportation toll project memo earlier this year.

But at the same time, Dalton said in 2009 that “her agenda and my agenda are very much the same.”

Saying that agenda is responsible for the state’s jobless rate is a stretch. Economic experts suggest larger national and even global trends affect North Carolina’s economy more than specific state policies. So it’s unfair to blame it all on the current administration.

Ruling: McCrory overstates Dalton’s connection to Perdue, though even by Dalton’s admission they are not too far apart. Likewise, he can’t blame them entirely for the state’s economic condition.

Claim: “I think if you implement my plan, I think we can reduce it as much as 2-1/2 to 3 percent. My plan puts people back to work now.”

Speaker: Walter Dalton

Context: The current jobless rate is 9.6 percent, so Dalton expects it to fall at least to 7.1 percent, if not 6.6 percent. In addition, Dalton says his plan – to give businesses a tax break if they hire long-term unemployed workers and allow companies to train unemployed workers with state assistance before hiring them full time – would put people back to work immediately.

But two experts cast doubt on whether his jobs plan would do what Dalton says it would.

Brent Lane, the director for the Center for Competitive Economies housed at the UNC-Chapel Hill business school, said Dalton’s promised jobs “will not be immediate.”

“Tax credits are very unlikely and have proven ineffective in terms of job creation,” he said, though he credited Dalton with putting forward specific ideas.

John Quinterno, the leading economic analyst at South By North Strategies in Chapel Hill, said “all (Dalton’s) ideas do have the potential to put people to work, but they do take a while to work.”

He said how long it would take is difficult to assess. For one, he noted, it requires the legislature to approve his plan, a process that is no guarantee and at minimum would take weeks if not months.

Dalton’s campaign could not produce any data to support the candidate’s claim about how the economic plan would affect the jobless rate.

Ruling: Dalton doesn’t provide specifics to support his claim, and some economic analysts cast doubt on whether the candidate’s jobs plan would reduce the rate so dramatically in a year’s time. Given this, his claim appears overstated.

Claim: “Forbes magazine says North Carolina has the third best business rating. CEO has us No. 2. Site Selection has us in the top five. We’re above South Carolina in every one of those.”

Speaker: Walter Dalton

Context: Throughout the campaign, Dalton and McCrory have argued over how the business climate in North Carolina compares to that of South Carolina and the Southeast. McCrory argues the state’s competitiveness has tanked, while Dalton points to magazine rankings.

Dalton’s citation of the rankings is mostly correct – except that North Carolina came in third in CEO’s 2011 rankings, not second – but he misses needed context with these lists. The rankings vary wildly by the metrics used and even those mentioned by Dalton reveal huge inconsistencies.

To drive home the point: Another ranking from Area Development, a corporate site selection magazine put South Carolina second and North Carolina in fifth.

Ruling: Dalton gets the magazine rankings mostly true, but other studies contradict his point. Staff writer Rob Christensen contributed.

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