At a time when we should be boosting investments to ensure that the Tar Heel state can compete for good-paying jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, our legislative leaders have taken a different path. Our prized public 4-year university system serves as an example.
Since 2008, state funding on a per student basis within the UNC System has been cut by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. Managing these funding cuts have meant reducing course offerings, which can prolong the time it takes students to graduate; reducing academic- and student-support services; and steady tuition hikes. For the 2014 academic year, the average tuition and fees cost with the university system is around $6,100, up from around $4,400 in 2008 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.
This is the context that our state leaders chose to pass a tax plan that significantly reduces revenue available for important investments such as our public university system. The tax plan reduces revenue by more than $525 million over the next two years.
These dollars could have been used to:
- Eliminate mandatory university-wide budget reductions for FY15
- Double state funding for UNC need-based financial aid for FY15
- Double funding for cancer research and other major research initiatives for FY15
- Triple state funding for faculty recruitment and retention for FY15
- Triple state matching funding for federal work study program for FY15
A skilled and educated workforce that can compete for good-paying jobs is not an option, but a necessity, if North Carolina is to become more competitive and meet the demands of a 21st century economy. An increasing number of jobs in the state  are expected to require some level of postsecondary training and states with higher levels of educational attainment in their workforce  are found to have greater levels of productivity.
The tax plan takes us further down a dangerous path that means missed opportunities to invest in our public university system, one of the public institutions that make our state great. For this reason we all lose under the tax plan.