Next spring when a single mother in Newton takes her old car to the Jiffy Lube for an oil change, she will be in for quite a surprise. It is going to cost her 6.75 percent more thanks to the budget passed by the House and Senate and endorsed by Gov. Pat McCrory that for the first time imposes a sales tax on car repairs and services.
If she returns home to find that her washing machine isn’t working, it’s going to cost her more to have it fixed. The budget applies the sales tax to appliance repairs too.
If she somehow scrapes the money together to buy a new washer instead, she better pick it up herself as it will cost her more to have it delivered. The budget adds the sales tax to deliveries.
And she may also be surprised to learn that none of the extra money she will have to pay to fix her car or washing machine will stay in her county to help her daughter’s school or improve the local roads. [Continue reading…]
2. The war on public employees continues
Yet another state budget leaves workers with paltry raises
Since taking control of the General Assembly in 2011, the conservative powers that be in North Carolina have been waging a more or less constant war on all things public. Whether it’s the public schools, the University of North Carolina, environmental protection, the criminal justice and corrections systems, the social safety net or a dozen other essential structures and systems, there has been an unrelenting drive to cut spending, reduce the number of employees and privatize services.
In the far right, market fundamentalist view of reality, such an approach is precisely what is needed to incentivize all kinds of new “efficiencies.” You know how this goes: If we just spur state programs and employees to “compete for customers” and bring “market forces to bear,” we can “run government like a business.” [Continue reading…]
Expectations are so low when it comes to funding the state’s court system that a budget without obvious cuts is now lauded as a victory.
“We are pleased that the budget as proposed by the General Assembly recognizes the need for funding the court system,” Sharon Gladwell, Communications Director for the Administrative Office of the Courts said in an email.
“When signed by the governor, the budget will help fund some of the statutory requirements that have been underfunded for a number of years, and it will help with the much needed modernization of technology and information systems.”
True, the budget as proposed by the Conference Committee this week actually funds some of the judicial system’s critical needs, like paying jury members and interpreters, and tosses some dollars in for the initial stages of the long-overdue overhaul of court technology.
But it comes nowhere near full-funding of a court system that’s seen its operating budget slashed by more than 40 percent since 2008, more than 600 needed employees dropped from its payroll and successful programs like drug treatment courts eliminated. [Continue reading…]
4. Senate and House leaders praise education decisions, rush to meet budget deadline
Editor’s note: Legislators met their Friday deadline for passing a budget, which the governor signed on Friday.
Public education didn’t see the deep annual cuts that have become almost commonplace in recent years, as a proposed $21.7 billion budget from Republican state leaders was made public and faces likely passage this week.
Lawmakers in the both branches of the Republican-controlled legislature, up against a deadline of midnight Friday when their current continuing resolution funding state government expires, scrambled Tuesday to digest the 429-page budget released late Monday night.
The Senate held its first vote on it Tuesday affirming the budgets while their House counterparts, who have a rule that budgets must be publicly available three days before a vote, are scheduled to vote Thursday.
The Senate passed its budget on party lines, with Democrats in the minority objecting to the late night reveal of the budget that left many unable to parse through the hundreds of pages of budget documents before voting.[Continue reading…]
One of the most telling things about the woeful budget agreement crafted in secret and unveiled this week by legislative leaders is how they defend it, spending as much time boasting about things they didn’t cut as they do talking about new investments they made.
The headlines from the first few days of the budget coverage made the same point, emphasizing that the budget “protects teacher assistants and driver’s ed,” or “restores education items and tax credits.”
You’d think the state was still struggling with the worst of the Great Recession with state revenues plummeting and lawmakers scrambling to keep schools open.
The opposite is true of course. The recession is over and state revenues have rebounded but the Republican majority in the House and Senate has decided not to reinvest in education and human services that were slashed during the downturn, but instead to cut taxes again, giving still more breaks to millionaires and out-of-state corporations that received huge windfalls in the 2013 tax changes. [Continue reading…]
Upcoming event on Tuesday, September 29th: Crucial Conversation — For-profit colleges: A helpful solution or part of what ails higher education?