NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

As state lawmakers negotiate behind closed doors on a final budget deal, North Carolinians came together on Twitter to have their say on the smart investments that will best move the state forward. North Carolinians know that if we want to build a more inclusive and prosperous state for everyone, the state budget is key to getting there. Securing that goal, however, requires state lawmakers to pursue fiscal policies that enable North Carolina to reinvest and rebuild in the foundations of a strong economy.

Better choices are available than the ones that the Senate and House leadership are pursuing. That’s why every day North Carolinians and representatives from advocacy groups participated in a Twitter Chat, using the #MyNCBudget hashtag. Participants quickly pointed out that further tax cuts—as proposed in both the House and Senate budgets—would hamper the state’s ability to realize their vision for investments that benefit children, families, and communities across the state. They urged lawmakers to reinvest in early childhood education, K-12 and higher education, healthy communities, justice programs, living-wage policies, and a lot more.

There were so many strong voices that the conversation was trending in the Raleigh market. You can check out the conversation on Twitter at #MyNCBudget. Below is a preview of the discussion. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Within the last month, policymakers in three states approved tax changes that will strengthen family economic security and support a stronger, more inclusive economy. Policymakers in New Jersey and Rhode Island approved expansions in their state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and California officials adopted its first state EITC, which goes to people that work but earn low wages so that they can better make ends meet and avoid raising their children in poverty.

North Carolina is no longer among the 26 states that have a state EITC. Our state lawmakers allowed the state EITC to expire in 2013 when they enacted deep tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy and profitable corporations. The result was a tax shift—away from the wealthy and onto everyone else—that did nothing to improve the financial well-being of people who work hard for low pay and struggle to pay the bills.

On the other end of the spectrum, New Jersey lawmakers approved an increase in its state EITC to 30 percent from 20 percent of the federal credit that will benefit over half a million families. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

With one day left in the current 2015 fiscal year, state lawmakers reached a stop-gap spending deal today that would avoid a shutdown and keep state programs and services operating until August 14. The House approved the deal—known formally as a Continuing Resolution—tonight, with the Senate poised to follow suit tomorrow morning.  The deal is required because the state House and Senate leadership will not be able to iron out the differences between their respective budgets by time the new fiscal year begins on Wednesday, July 1.

State legislative leadership opted for a 45-day continuing resolution to fund state government. It would fund current programs and services at existing levels, with three major exceptions that are listed below.

  • Budget cuts to programs, services, and vacant positions would not receive funding under the temporary deal if the House and Senate included identical cuts (i.e. items that are not in controversy). Filled positions that are cut and not in controversy would receive a 30-day notice before termination. It is unclear how many positions would be cut under the temporary deal.
  • Public schools would receive additional money to cover the costs of student enrollment growth. There is no additional money for Teacher Assistants, driver’s education, or reduced classroom sizes—which are major points of contention between the House and Senate approved budgets. As such, local school districts are left waiting for a complete budget picture for the upcoming school year.
  • Beginning teachers would receive another boost in pay, to $35,000 from $33,000. But the deal freezes pay for the remaining teachers and all state employees. Raises will be negotiated upon going forward.

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NC Budget and Tax Center

State legislators are expected to pass a stop-gap measure today to address the expiration of the current spending plan, which runs through June 30 or next Tuesday. The measure, known formally as a Continuing Resolution, would allow North Carolina to avoid a shutdown and keep state government operating. The measure would give the leadership in the state Senate and House additional time to iron out the stark differences between their respective spending plans and approve a final budget.

Absent the stop-gap spending measure, the governor would only be authorized to spend money on “essential” programs and services.

It is not uncommon for state lawmakers to pass a stop-gap spending measure, which can last as long as they choose. In the recent past, the measures have lasted between two weeks and thirty days. Lawmakers last approved a stop-gap spending measure in 2013. That resolution permitted state agencies to spend up to 95 percent of their authorized budgets from the current fiscal year. The Office of State Budget and Management determined how to trim the other 5 percent. Before that, lawmakers approved the measure three times in 2009.*

If lawmakers miss the deadline at the beginning of the second year of a two-year budget, that budget simply continues unless the governor provides further instructions. That’s what happened last year when Governor McCrory directed budget cuts. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

During the Senate budget debate last week, some lawmakers demonstrated a lack of understanding—or a willingness to ignore the economic reality—of how money loses its value overtime. By ignoring inflation, Senate leadership readily claimed that education spending in the state is the highest that it has ever been. This claim, however, when placed in proper context is not factually accurate, as pointed out in a new Fact Check from WRAL.

In fact, when accounting for inflation, the largest state education budget was in the 2008 fiscal year, the last budget enacted before the recession hit.

The “fairy tale” denial of how inflation works—a basic Economics 101 concept—signals that the Senate leadership is sensitive to public concerns over the erosion of the state’s funding commitment to services such as high-quality public schools, health care, and child care. North Carolinians have seen and felt too much to be fooled into thinking that today’s investment in these public services exceeds pre-recession levels. That just doesn’t bear out in the data or in our current lived experience.

Here is an excerpt from WRAL’s fact check: Read More