NC Budget and Tax Center, Raising the Bar 2016

North Carolina’s older population and the need for state action growing

This post is part of a series on the state budget featuring the voices of North Carolina experts on what our state needs to progress so that all North Carolinians have a fair shot to get ahead.

By Mary Bethel – President, NC Coalition on Aging

raise the barThe Baby Boomers Are Here!  North Carolina is experiencing a significant increase in our older population as the state’s 2.4 million baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have begun to enter the retirement age.  Today, 1 in 5 – over 2 million people – are age 60 and over and there are 170,000 people age 85+ living in the state.  By 2018, the state as a whole, and 90 of the 100 counties, will have more population 60 and over than age 0-17.

With this growth in the number of older adults comes an increased need for legislative action to help those who need assistance.  Many aging advocacy groups in the state, including the NC Coalition on Aging, a statewide alliance composed of agencies; organizations, groups and supporting individuals concerned with issues impacting older North Carolinians (www.nccoalitiononaging.org); are asking the General Assembly to appropriate funding for two priority areas. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center, Raising the Bar 2016

Promoting opportunity for children and their families in the state budget

This post is part of a series on the state budget featuring the voices of North Carolina experts on what our state needs to progress so that all North Carolinians have a fair shot to get ahead. 

By Michelle raise the barHughes, Executive Director, NC Child

What do North Carolina’s children need in order to get a solid start in life, and what priority should children have in the annual legislative competition for state funds? Child advocates like us are pressed every year to tell the legislature what we think is most important for our state’s 2.3 million children to grow into thriving, successful adults.  And every year we make the case for a range of effective, research-based policy solutions in health care, early childhood education, child care and child safety.

But after 30 years of working to make North Carolina the best place to be a child and to raise a child, we can say this without reservation: our children will most surely thrive when we support the families and the communities in which they live.   We cannot separate the fate of our state’s children from the reality of their parents’ lives, the condition of their neighborhoods, and the opportunities available or missing in their communities.

Unfortunately, many children in North Carolina are growing up in families living on the brink and in communities facing deep and persistent barriers to success and prosperity.  These families live in small towns and rural areas, but also in suburbs and city neighborhoods. They are striving to make ends meet, but low-wage jobs with few benefits are often the only ones available to them. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center, Raising the Bar 2016

Reinvestment should be top priority for lawmakers during the Short Session

This blog post raise the baris the first post in our week-long 2016 Raise the Bar blog series that will recap the state of the North Carolina budget and make the case for reinvestment so that all North Carolinians have a fair shot to get ahead.

Next Tuesday, state lawmakers will return to Jones Street for the start of the Short Session. The primary focus of the session will be to make adjustments to the second year of the two-year budget that lawmakers approved last year. That means that lawmakers have an opportunity to strengthen economic security for all North Carolinians and help build a more robust economic recovery.

Seizing that opportunity, however, will require lawmakers to refocus on evidence-based fiscal policies that are smart, targeted, and equitable—rather than policies that lead them further down the tax-cut and tax-swap paths that they’ve pursued. As a reminder, state lawmakers once again chose last year to cut taxes that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations, while also expanding the sales tax to new services like maintenance, repair, and installation, effectively further shifting the tax load onto middle- and low-income taxpayers.

Those tax decisions are closing the doors of opportunity for some North Carolinians and won’t fix what is wrong with our state’s economy (like too few jobs and a boom in low-wage work). The tax plans since 2013 will reduce revenue by more than $2 billion annually when fully implemented, cutting off pathways to greater economic success like early childhood development, public schools, affordable health care, supports for older adults, and community economic development while also failing to boost the economy or create the jobs North Carolina needs.

Below are four key points about the current state budget that would be good for lawmakers to reflect upon as they head into the new budget season. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Governor McCrory provides glimpse into his budget proposal that he will unveil in late April

At a press conference earlier today, Governor Pat McCrory provided a narrow and preliminary look into his budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year that begins in July 2016. His remarks focused solely on the investments that he would make in the health and services (HHS) section of the budget. The Governor stated a desire to boost investments targeting vulnerable communities such as at-risk children, adults who suffer from mental health and substance abuse disorders, and older adults with Alzheimer’s.

Governor McCrory did not mention any additional rounds of tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations—a genuine concern given his willingness to sign into law such tax breaks in the last few budgets. He also did not mention any details for other investments that the state budget funds such as education, community economic development, and the justice system.

Without knowing all of the details of his likely $22+ billion budget and tax plan, it is unclear how he pays for the investments in his new proposal. He could pay for them with money expected to be left on the table this year, new revenues that are coming in due to a slowly improving economy here and across the nation, and/or by relying on a mix of new revenues and tax cuts. Several fiscal scenarios exist.  As such, a complete analysis of today’s news must wait until the Governor releases the full proposal later this month.

Below are topline summaries of the Governor’s health and human services budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Investing in early childhood would have substantive, long-lasting benefits for children and North Carolina

Yesterday, early education workers and thought leaders joined together at the North Carolina Child Care Coalition’s annual Early Education Forum to discuss ways to use research, policy, and advocacy to address the high cost of early education as well as to transform the early care and education workforce.

Those concerns are substantiated in a new Economic Policy Institute report that details the high cost of child care in every state. In the new report, It’s time for an ambitious national investment in America’s children, the authors outline the benefits of public investment in early childhood care and education (ECCE), to children, families, society, and the economy. They also propose that lawmakers enact critical public investments, including:

  • The public provision of early childhood education, including high-quality pre-kindergarten education;
  • Subsidies to allow parents to afford high-quality child care; and
  • Expanded public funding for home visits by trained nurses to help parents both before and after childbirth.

These recommendations would help address some of issues that attendees raised at the forum yesterday. Child care is one of the biggest expenses that North Carolina families face. It’s so sizeable that infant care in North Carolina now costs $2,677 more than in-state tuition for 4-year public college. High costs mean that many families cannot send their children to high-quality education centers—even for low-income families because long waiting lists persist for subsidies. That hurts children, families, and our economy. Read more