Yesterday’s news that the United States Department of Justice has determined that HB2 violates federal civil rights laws and therefore puts hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding in jeopardy has rightfully caused a stir in media and government circles. As HB2 critics have noted, when combined with the losses in private investment that have occurred already as a result of the new discrimination law, the new threat in lost federal dollars would make the impact truly catastrophic for North Carolina.
Here’s the thing, however: These new losses to the state are far from the first in recent years.
Had North Carolina expanded Medicaid like dozens of other states when it first had the opportunity three years ago, we would have already drawn down more than $4 billion in federal dollars. Indeed, we’re losing more than $4 million per day. Click here to see the running total.
But wait, that’s not all. North Carolina also flushed away hundreds of millions of federal dollars in the realm of unemployment insurance by defying federal directives to maintain benefit and eligibility levels.
Meanwhile, state tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable corporations have and will cost state government billions more.
The bottom line: Governor McCrory and state legislative leaders continue to apply what can only be described as a starvation diet to North Carolina’s state government and economy. Even as they repeatedly laud the amazing benefits of federal dollars that flow to the state to support the military (something that is clearly true) they blindly and hypocritically turn away and jeopardize billions more in other areas that could have already boosted both state services and the economy well above their current so-so performance levels.
In other words, given their past, ideologically driven performance when it comes to funding government and boosting the economy, it’s entirely plausible that the latest threat from the feds over HB2 will again fall on deaf ears and leave the state in an even deeper hole.