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White House names NC State institute director a 'Champion of Change'

The White House will honor Anita Brown-Graham, the Institute for Emerging Issues director at North Carolina State University, for her innovation in tackling some of the state’s biggest issues.

Brown-Graham will receive the title of “Champion of Change,” given through a program President Barack Obama created to highlight the accomplishments of people and organizations working toward a better future.

Institute for Emerging Issues cranking up for entrepreeurs programs in Raleigh

The Institute for Emerging Issues will focus its annual forum next year on manufacturing and it is beginning is begin this week with a series of programs that begin exploring the issue.

On Monday at 3:45 the Institute at NC State University will host a virtual panel discussion on manufacturing and its importance to Generation Z. The discussion will be broadcast live online and available for viewing via the Emerging Issues website and YouTube.

Is there a children's section?

Former Gov. Jim Hunt will probably hear a lot about his initiatives on education and school-readiness when people with big titles gather Friday to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking of the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on N.C. State University's Centennial Campus.

The library, set to open in 2012, will house the Institute for Emerging Issues, a Raleigh think-tank Hunt created.

Scheduled to attend the ceremony are UNC President Erskine Bowles, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, and U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge.

Not a place for the kids to flip through the latest issue of Highlights, but the library will include an interactive policy gallery for the grown-ups with big ideas.

Pink to speak at N.C. State forum

Best-selling author Daniel Pink, an expert on innovation and competition, will speak at the Emerging Issues Forum next year.

Pink’s best-known work is “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will the Future and “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need.”

He will discuss how the country is moving away from analytical thinking into a conceptual age in which creative, flexible thinkers are important.

The 25th annual Emerging Issues Forum will focus on how to develop and enhance North Carolina’s climate of creativity in order to improve the state’s global competitiveness.

The forum is sponsored by the Institute for Emerging Issues, a think tank at N.C. State University created by former Gov. Jim Hunt, that has brought such people as former President Bill Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to Raleigh for its two-day conferences. The next forum is scheduled for Feb. 8 and 9th.

Pink worked previously as Vice President Al Gore’s chief speechwriter from 1995-97, and before that as an aide to Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Quick Hits

* Members of the Institute for Emerging Issues tax reform panel say the Senate's plan, while different, is headed in the right direction.

* The Dome wraps up all those annoying North Carolina earmark requests posts into one big package and a couple of sidebars.

* Former News & Observer business reporter Jim Barnett has started a blog exploring nonprofit newspapers' business model.

* The state meat industry is fighting a bill from the Humane Society of the United States that it says is a step toward ending meat eating.

GOP: Tax plan is bait and switch

The head of the N.C. Republican Party said the Senate tax plan is a "classic scam."

Chairwoman Linda Daves said today that a plan from Senate Democrats to reduce the sales tax while expanding it to cover services is "bait and switch."

"Pretend to be reducing taxes by slight increments while at the same time creating new taxes to raise more revenue than ever before," she said in a statement. "They hope that we will not notice as our overall tax burden is increased by $600 million."

The proposal, expected to be discussed today, is a version of a recent plan to modernize the tax code put forward by a bipartisan committee from the Institute for Emerging Issues.

The GOP's reaction is the first sign that the Senate debate will be more partisan.

Tax reform panel speaks

The movement to overhaul North Carolina's 1930's era tax structure gained critical support Tuesday, when a committee of business leaders said it bakced lowering income taxes, but requiring that personal services be taxed.

The bipartisan committee called for lowering the highest marginal rates on corporate and personal income taxes, saying it would make the Tar Heel state more competitive in recruiting new businesses, Rob Christensen reports.

But it also proposed broadening the sales tax to include services that are now exempt — from lawn services to lawyers.

"We want it to be pro business," said John McNairy, president of Tidewater Transit Co. Inc. and co-chairman of the committee said a news conference at a downtown hotel.

The recommendations of the 20-member committee comes at a time when the state legislature is giving a serious look at changing the tax system and facing a $2 biillion plus shortfall this year and a $3 billion shortfall next year.

More after the jump.

Panel urges tax reform

The Institute for Emerging Issues says its time to revamp state taxes.

A committee created by the Raleigh-based think tank said Tuesday that the General Assembly should pass tax reform this year to help keep North Carolina business-friendly.

The committee said sales taxes and corporate and personal income taxes should be reduced, while exemptions and loopholes are eliminated.

Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, who ran for governor as a Republican, co-chaired the committee. He said local governments should have more options to raise their own funds.

Senate Democrats are considering whether to lower tax rates while taxing some services. (AP)

Pols see infrastructure as key

Can infrastructure spending turn the economy around?

A number of current and former politicians argued that long-delayed road, transit and water system projects can generate jobs and give a jolt to the economy.

Speaking at the annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh, former Gov. Jim Hunt said the state can do "big and bold things that can last a long time."

Less than 8 percent of the Senate's $827 billion stimulus package is directed at infrastructure, while about 11 percent of the House's $820 billion version is for public construction needs.

That would boost the $1.1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure spending each year, but it's a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in needs over the next five years, according to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

"Our infrastructure system's parts are not serving their intended purposes," said ASCE President Wayne Klotz. (AP)

Engineer: N.C. needs some work

The U.S has quit changing the oil of its car.

That was the analogy made Monday by Wayne Klotz, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, during a talk in downtown Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports.

Earlier this year, the engineers released a reporting giving the U.S. a grade of "D" for keeping up its infrastructure.

"We are simply not spending enough money," Klotz told about 1,000 North Carolina leaders at the Emerging Issues Forum.

Although there are no updated figures on North Carolina, Klotz noted that the engineers gave the state a "C-minus" grade in 2006.

More after the jump.

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