The Senate is up to its Medieval medicine routine again. Seeing that its “patient,” the state of North Carolina, continues to struggle, the Senate leaders are calling for — you can’t make this up — more leeches and another good bloodletting.
That’s the only way to characterize the terrible proposal unveiled and blasted through a committee yesterday in less than 90 minutes to place three — count ’em, three — constitutional amendments on the state ballot to eviscerate state government for generations to come. As N.C. Budget and Tax Center Director Alexandra Sirota explained yesterday afternoon in an understated post, the dreadful changes in the proposal would:
“make it harder – not easier – for lawmakers to budget responsibly and they will weaken the foundation of our economy by ensuring the state cannot invest in its people and places. A budget that includes these flawed policy ideas will not help North Carolina move forward.”
Here’s a less polite way to put it: Of all the horrific and destructive proposals advanced by the state’s far right elected leaders over the past five years, this is almost certainly the worst. These deceptive, ALEC-inspired amendments would, if somehow written into the state constitution, devastate North Carolina for decades to come.
Think about it: If the state were to adopt these amendments, North Carolina teachers would never — literally never — get another significant raise again. That’s because if state spending can only go up as fast as inflation and population, any and all new money will be taken up with enrollment growth and higher-than-inflation price increases in areas like health care — and that’s if we’re lucky.
In other words, what the proposal would do is lock in place the destructive policies of the past half decade permanently. Even when conservatives fall, as they inevitably will, from power, it would be virtually impossible to pass new laws to repair the damage. This has, of course, been the disastrous experience in Colorado — the only state to try a full embrace of ALEC spending caps. No wonder they legalized marijuana — they need something to dull the pain and embarrassment of their plight. You like the state of of public services in North Carolina right now? Well get used to them (and hold on to the memory) because we will never do any better if these changes go through.
The bottom line: There have been a lot of important policy battles in recent years in North Carolina that caring and thinking people have waged to hold back the worst of far right’s agenda. But none of those fights were as important as this one. This is the Big Kahuna. If this battle is lost, North Carolina truly will never be the same again.