Governor Cooper announced a clear vision for where North Carolina should aim: one of the top 10 most educated states in the country, an attractive place for people and business, and a state that supports the health and well-being of all residents.
Thinking long-term isn’t the norm for many leaders in North Carolina. Many argue that it’s the nature of elected officials to think in terms of their next election cycle. That may be part of the answer, but a very practical issue exists in North Carolina: We literally can’t afford to think long-term.
Included with the Governor’s recommended biennial budget that was released last week is a chart that projects out the state’s revenue and anticipated expenditures over the next five years. The chart provides a troubling picture of just how close we are budgeting, even as we fail to meet all our existing needs. By 2021, revenue collections for North Carolina are anticipated to be $100.7 million above anticipated expenditures. These anticipated expenditures account for enrollment growth in public schools and Medicaid, costs of maintaining capital investments, paying debt obligations and maintaining a commitment to get teacher pay to the national average.