Members of the N.C. Senate approved a $23.9 billion budget Thursday morning that, much to Democrats’ consternation, swept through the chamber with no allowance for amendments.
Policy Watch has detailed the primary aspects of the GOP-authored spending plan. The headlines include a 6.5 percent raise for teachers and another round of tax cuts.
But critics say the legislature still failed to adequately fund public schools, approved scores of “pork” provisions, slighted the state’s well-documented environmental headaches, and effectively quashed amendments to the privately-negotiated budget by bundling it in a conference committee report.
The spending plan is now bound for the state House, where it’s likely to pass in the coming days. Republicans also hold a veto-proof majority in the event that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes the budget.
From the progressive N.C. Justice Center’s Alexandra Sirota, director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, today:
One would think that legislative leaders would be proud of yet another round of cutting taxes for the wealthiest and shortchanging everyone else. But if they are, why did they develop their budget in secret and why are they limiting opportunities for debate and amendments?
Maybe they don’t want North Carolinians to know that they chose to keep the tax rate cuts scheduled for 2019 that will mean $900 million less for communities across the state.
Or that they are putting us on a path that will mean revenues will not be able to maintain current services for the state’s population in future years.
Maybe they don’t want North Carolinians to know that the tax cuts aren’t growing our economy.
Or maybe they don’t want to have to engage with teachers and students who know their classrooms need state investments to ensure a sound, basic education.
Maybe they don’t want to have to hear from older North Carolinians who won’t be able to stay in their homes due to a lack of investment in home health care and meal delivery. Or from the families who are living on bottled water because their water is toxic.
Maybe they just don’t want to deal with parents who want their kids to be cared for at a high-quality child care while they work or the parents who can’t afford the rising tuition for their children’s education and training after high school.
Maybe they don’t want to discuss it.
But we should ask them: why prioritize tax cuts and hurt our state?
If I didn’t have a good answer, I wouldn’t want to have to answer these questions either.