Commentary

Progressives: GOP Budget deal represents another missed opportunity

Republican legislative leaders announced last night that they have agreed to a final agreement on a new state budget that would commence July 1. As usual, neither Governor Cooper nor Democratic members of the legislature were invited to participate in the negotiations, though ,of, course, the Governor can veto the bill. Not surprisingly, given the disastrous track record of the past six years, the proposal comes up woefully short.

Fiscal policy expert Alexandra Sirota of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center put it this way last night:

“The final budget that state lawmakers will vote on in the coming days reflects missed opportunities for North Carolina. By pursuing more tax cuts, even as states like Kansas have reversed course and abandoned their own failed tax-cut experiment, leaders of the NC General Assembly have chosen to stay the course and continue to do less for more North Carolinians.

North Carolina’s leaders should put forward a budget that truly reflects the priorities of our growing state, including healthy and safe communities, quality educational opportunities and skills training, thriving communities, and broadly shared economic prosperity. They should make a sustained commitment to rebuilding Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew rather than offering just a fraction of what is needed. Instead, lawmakers have chosen to give even more benefits to the wealthy and profitable corporations. As state leaders continue to dig their heels in on their failed tax cut experiment, it is time for leaders across the state to emerge and demonstrate the harm of another budget that is not worthy of North Carolinians.”

And this is from the good folks at Progress NC:

“’Once again, Republican lawmakers would rather give tax handouts to big corporations and millionaires instead of investing in North Carolina’s future,’ said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. ‘This budget provides absolutely no plan to raise teacher salaries to the national average, and short-changes rural communities across the state compared to Gov. Cooper’s budget. Working families deserve better.’

  • Gov. Cooper’s budget gives teachers an average 5% raise, with significant increases for teachers at every level. The Republican budget gives teachers an average raise of only 3.3%, while many new and veteran teachers will likely receive much less.
  • Gov. Cooper’s budget provides free community college for all North Carolina high school graduates who wish to attend. The Republican budget does not.
  • Gov. Cooper’s budget expands access to broadband in rural counties. The Republican budget does not include money for rural broadband, but it does ban wind farm projects that would bring jobs to rural counties.
  • The Republican budget does nothing to restore the 7,000 teaching assistant jobs which have been cut since the recession started. Republicans hope parents simply forget that those TAs used to assist teachers in lower grade classrooms.
  • Textbook and technology funding only receives a small $11 million increase, so there is still a huge gap compared with before the recession.”

And this is from Governor Cooper himself:

“While we wait for details, the budget outlined by legislative leaders continues to shortchange education, economic development, and middle class families in favor of more tax giveaways that help the wealthy and large corporations. Those are the wrong priorities.”

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