Governor McCrory and legislative leaders have failed to acknowledge the critical role that federal investments play in North Carolina, as shown in their shortsighted response to the letter from the U.S. Department of Justice that notified the state that repeal of House Bill 2 was required to keep the state in compliance with the U.S. Civil Rights Act.
For years, policymakers in North Carolina have refused to acknowledge the role that federal dollars play in building a stronger economy for our state, whether it be in the demonstrated stabilization delivered by the Recovery Act or the support that could have been received from Medicaid expansion to rural communities and health care providers.
The willingness to defy the federal government so that the state can continue to discriminate puts at risk billions of dollars.
A recent analysis from the Williams Institute suggests that number would top $5 billion. Those are dollars that help to ensure hungry children have access to nutritious food, that children can receive a good education regardless of the wealth of their community, that housing can be kept to code and accessible to seniors and people with disabilities, and that higher education can be accessible to more North Carolinians.
By jeopardizing federal funding, North Carolina policymakers are once again creating their own self-made fiscal crisis. A few facts on federal funding to North Carolina from Pew Charitable Trust’s Fiscal Federalism Initiative:
• In 2014, the last year for which data is available, North Carolina received $16.6 billion in federal grants ranging from funding that went to transportation, health care, housing and education.
• These federal grant dollars alone represented 3.5 percent of the state’s GDP, with total federal dollars flowing to North Carolina representing one-fifth of the state’s GDP in 2014.
North Carolina has already experienced the loss of federal funding through sequestration—a decision made by Congress—that has resulted in cuts to child care subsidies and housing investments. A self-imposed reduction to federal investments is fiscally irresponsible in light of the already long list of unmet needs in the state and the very poor fiscal responsibility adopted by our leaders with their commitment to tax cuts for the wealthy and profitable companies.
Perhaps this is a good time to remind policymakers in Raleigh that North Carolina benefits tremendously from the investments that the federal government makes in our state’s communities and the well-being of our residents from infants to seniors. To put at risk those dollars so that the state can discriminate will only drive up the costs for us all in the immediate and long-term.