This month, taxpayers receiving their paychecks are seeing changes in their take-home pay. Some will see more, some less since the tax plan passed last year delivers income tax cuts depending on individual taxpayer circumstances.
The benefits from the new tax law will accrue primarily to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. In total, the tax plan passed last year reduces revenue by nearly $525 million over the next two years. The foregone investments for our communities that will result from these tax cuts will impact us all.
Consider what could have been done to improve the classroom experience of our students in K-12 public schools if policymakers hadn’t chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations. These dollars could have been used to provide a package of investments in public education such as:
- Keeping 1 in 5 teacher assistant jobs in FY15
- Doubling current funding for textbooks in FY15
- Keeping the Teaching Fellows program in FY15
- Protecting salary supplement for teachers with master’s degrees in FY15
- Providing a 2 percent salary increase for teachers in FY15
As more students enter our public schools, educators are increasingly being asked to do more with less. Our public schools have seen state funding cut in critical areas that evidence shows  promote student success – classroom teachers, teacher assistants, and instructional support, for example.
As a result of state funding cuts to K-12 education, classroom size has increased, students are learning from outdated textbooks, and instructional supplies are in short supply. The average teacher salary for North Carolina educators has fallen to 46st among states in recent years and many teachers spend money out of their own pockets to ensure they have needed classroom supplies.
North Carolinians have long recognized the importance of education as a pathway to increased opportunity for individuals and a more competitive state economy. However, leadership in the General Assembly has taken a change of course that began before passage of the new tax laws last year. The tax plan only accelerates our pace down that misdirected path.