There is much ground to be regained since the deep and enduring cuts following the recession. Yet, three weeks into the new fiscal year, legislative leadership delivered a final budget that shorts investments in the foundations of a strong and sustainable economy—our schools, public health systems, courts, and communities. As such, this budget fails to catch up—let alone keep up—with the needs of a growing North Carolina population across major service areas.
Lawmakers chose to drain available revenues by $524 million over the next two years through an ill-advised series of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations. This revenue loss isn’t just a number on a piece of paper—it means fewer teachers in more crowded classrooms, higher tuition rates and elevated debt load for families, scarcer economic development opportunities for distressed communities, and longer waiting lists for senior services.
And, what is not even accounted for in this budget is that more than $620 million will need to be cut from public investments in the years following this biennium. In the rush to pursue policies based on flawed and disproven economic theories, the impacts on children, families, and communities has been an afterthought.
Strengthening state investments in public priorities and building a competitive economy requires state policymakers make the right balance of budget and tax policy choices. Neither the tax plan nor the final budget meets the standard expected by North Carolinians.