Budgets are about choices, and in the final state budget North Carolina lawmakers have chosen not to adequately address two major and recurring collective state responsibilities – the education of our children and protecting the health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens. North Carolina children, seniors and families, and those struggling in these difficult times, will feel the impact of this state budget disproportionately because lawmakers chose to protect a $336 million tax break for profitable big businesses and wealthy North Carolinians rather than raising revenue to rebuild a foundation for economic opportunity.
The budget adopted by both chambers today is proof of how impossible it is to meet North Carolina’s needs – and provide what a majority of North Carolinians actually want – without raising revenue. When more teachers and teachers assistants are laid off and class sizes grow, public schoolchildren and their parents and grandparents will be the ones to pay. When as many as 40,000 children, seniors, and people with disabilities are faced with moving into group care homes because they can no longer receive personal care services through Medicaid, these vulnerable North Carolinians will be the ones to pay. When there are fewer dollars to repair and maintain our roads and bridges, business and workers will be the ones to pay. When there are fewer affordable housing options because of the cut to the Housing Trust Fund, families and neighborhoods will be the ones to pay. And when the quality of our water and air is compromised, all North Carolinians will pay. There was always a world of other budget options available to lawmakers, but they failed to pay it the serious consideration it deserves.