The state Senate is set to take a third and final vote on its two-year spending plan today, nearly a month after the House approved its budget. Next, each chamber will select respective leaders to negotiate in “conference” to iron out differences between the two budget proposals. The final budget agreement will head back to each chamber for another vote and then to the Governor’s desk.
How the state budget is funded and what it ultimately supports matters for all North Carolinians’ daily lives. We know that high-quality public systems beget economic growth and prosperity. Research and the lived experience of North Carolinians prove it. That’s why we should all be concerned that both the House and Senate budget plans include sizeable tax cuts that hamper our ability to rebuild and replace the most damaging cuts enacted in the aftermath of the recession and 2013 tax plan.
The House budget cuts taxes by approximately $652 million and the Senate budget cuts taxes by $950 million over the next two years. Because there is a modest economic recovery and modest revenue gains, both spending plans are still able to slightly reinvest in public schools, public health, and safe communities. Compared to the current 2015 fiscal year, the House budget reinvests more overall than the Senate budget (by 5% and 2%, respectively). But both budgets would still fall short of pre-recession spending levels—a trend that is in sharp contrast to previous leaders’ determination to rebuild what was lost amidst economic recoveries.
From early childhood learning to student needs to targeted assistance in economically struggling areas, both budgets leave many core public goods underfunded and needs unmet. In the face of deeply eroded public services and programs, both spending plans prove yet again that state lawmakers can spend slightly more overall yet still fall short of what’s needed to build a stronger, more inclusive economy.
Click here to download or check below to see a comparison chart of how the House budget differs from the Senate budget across core public priorities such as education, public health, public safety, and vibrant communities.