NC Budget and Tax Center

Farm Bill is a costly way to make more North Carolinians hungry

North Carolina already ranks 10th in the nation for its high level of hunger.  The proposed Farm Bill from the U.S. House, expected to be voted on later this week, is likely to drive that figure even higher.

Its combination of cuts to the amount and eligibility within the current program will hurt many North Carolinians, not just those receiving food assistance today.  The broader community that benefits when people can eat, lead productive lives, support their children’s healthy development will also suffer. It is also likely to disrupt the state’s vital food system that grows, processes, prepares and provides food through businesses across the state.

Less discussed in the bill is the failure to provide the funding to states necessary to implement new mandates. Without this federal funding, the costs will shift to North Carolina taxpayers or, alternately, North Carolina leaders will be responsible for keeping food off the table of more North Carolinians.

As has been noted in the discussion of work requirements in other programs, the costs can be significant.  From upgrading IT systems to aligning and staffing new work processes to delivering a new range of services, the implementation and ongoing operation of this federal mandate will cost states in a way that is not supported with the small amount proposed for states in the bill.  The implementation of work requirements for TANF in Tennessee cost the state $70 million, while the state of Kentucky estimates that it will cost $180 million to administer new work requirements in Medicaid.

These dollars also aren’t a good investment since work requirements haven’t demonstrated their effectiveness at moving people to work or economic security.  For example, work requirements in TANF have been connected to the exponential growth in deep poverty and been demonstrated to derail progress in finding work and maintaining household well-being.

If this bill passes, North Carolina could be positioned to make investments in wasteful bureaucracies at a moment when its ability to meet much-needed investments in classrooms, health care and rural development is limited. Not only that, but state lawmakers seek to implement a new regional support model for delivering social services but can’t seem to fund it—thus making clearer that the prospects for additional unfunded federal mandates getting the resources they need to improve programming and outcomes is grim.

It’s time to abandon a costly way to make the health and well-being of more North Carolinians worse.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Thursday’s vote in Congress would take food away from at least 133,000 North Carolinians

The U.S. House is preparing to vote on the 2018 Farm Bill this Thursday, a bill that drive up food insecurity, damage the well-being of families and hurt communities across the state.

While there are multiple issues with this bill, including imposing even more severe obstacles for North Carolinians looking for work and failing to address the needs of struggling military families. One of the more sinister provisions would get rid of a rule called categorical eligibility. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services from 2017 shows that this change would take food assistance from 133,000 North Carolinians, including more than 51,000 children who would also be at risk of losing their free or reduced lunch. These are largely working families with children whose parents work low wage jobs and critically need this food assistance in order to place food on the table.

In addition to making sure that thousands of North Carolinians don’t go hungry, eliminating this provision could actually cost the state. This change would make FNS rules more complicated and administratively burdensome, requiring the state to alter its FNS eligibility rules, modify NC FAST (the state’s new benefits delivery system) and applications, and retrain staff. By reducing efficiency and increasing workload, this would likely increase administrative costs—the only state costs associated with FNS benefits—and potentially raise FNS error rates.

See how many people would be impacted in your county:

CountyAll IndividualsChildren
North Carolina132,90251,236
Alamance2,010833
Alexander417134
Alleghany12337
Anson453139
Ashe34097
Avery18759
Beaufort677197
Bertie33174
Bladen581197
Brunswick1,354451
Buncombe3,1411,096
Burke1,042353
Cabarrus2,8871,311
Caldwell1,086334
Camden6118
Carteret792248
Caswell27760
Catawba2,334906
Chatham884385
Cherokee32563
Chowan20654
Clay12936
Cleveland1,397419
Columbus670222
Craven1,165393
Cumberland4,3301,635
Currituck20374
Dare361136
Davidson2,246810
Davie523207
Duplin1,034456
Durham4,6082,062
Edgecombe787221
Forsyth5,3072,239
Franklin920338
Gaston2,8401,060
Gates13034
Graham7822
Granville745278
Greene351136
Guilford7,5993,033
Halifax933246
Harnett1,611628
Haywood750238
Henderson1,266484
Hertford34886
Hoke855350
Hyde5919
Iredell1,187471
Jackson406126
Johnston3,0971,274
Jones19151
Lee1,233502
Lenoir868312
Lincoln800280
Macon517164
Madison22768
Martin373114
McDowell699228
Mecklenburg15,6747,003
Mitchell17733
Montgomery455190
Moore831299
Nash1,280505
New Hanover2,638966
Northampton31981
Onslow1,906697
Orange1,207482
Pamlico16546
Pasquotank662231
Pender746259
Perquimans17745
Person524144
Pitt2,427840
Polk19653
Randolph2,066812
Richmond811250
Robeson2,144771
Rockingham1,153346
Rowan1,830634
Rutherford840241
Sampson1,334542
Scotland37999
Stanly679214
Stokes405114
Surry1,135363
Swain13447
Transylvania357111
Tyrrell6320
Union2,5181,149
Vance885301
Wake10,2974,617
Warren30586
Washington15142
Watauga300106
Wayne1,993785
Wilkes1,044345
Wilson1,534573
Yadkin539207
Yancey27189
NC Budget and Tax Center

Statement from Budget & Tax Center Director on Governor’s Budget Proposal

Statement from Alexandra Sirota, Director of the NC Budget & Tax Center: 

The Governor understands that you can’t both cut taxes and invest in children’s education, pay teachers competitively, or build thriving communities. The move to freeze the corporate income tax rate at an already low 3 percent and the income tax rate at 5.499 percent on incomes over $200,000—those in the top 5 percent of taxpayers—is a first and prudent step to shifting away from an approach that has failed North Carolinians.

For years, the NC General Assembly has prioritized tax cuts for profitable corporations and wealthy taxpayers, making tax choices that failed to deliver benefits to rural communities, working people, children and seniors, in particular.

The Governor’s budget stands in contrast, taking a fiscally responsible approach that seeks to build a thriving North Carolina for everyone.  It is a recognition of our historical commitment to the public good, and it should be a signal to the General Assembly to undo their harmful tax cuts that undermine North Carolina’s future.

NC Budget and Tax Center, News

Is your community paying to enforce Trump’s immigration agenda? More communities saying “no”

While media attention often focuses on President Trump’s stream of insulting and divisive comments about immigration, less attention has been devoted to the administration’s ongoing effort to enlist local communities to carry out his agenda. The Trump administration wants to expand a program called “287g,” which effectively deputizes local law enforcement agents to act as agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

These agreements can tear communities apart, and have potentially serious fiscal, economic, and legal risks. That is why many communities are looking to end existing 287g agreements or thinking twice before signing up to be the agents of Trump’s immigration agenda. For example, the primary elections on May 8th saw the incumbent sheriff in Mecklenburg, who reauthorized that county’s 287g program, go down to defeat.

The Trump administration did not invent the 287g program, but it clearly sees it as a tool for implementing its agenda. The administration has signed up over 45 new localities to enforce its immigration priorities since January 2017 and currently has agreements in place with six sheriff’s offices in North Carolina (Wake, Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Nash, and Henderson). Alamance County had its 287g agreement terminated due to allegations of discriminatory practices, but has subsequently applied to have it reinstated.

Beyond creating fear and fostering distrust, 287g agreements have far-reaching fiscal, economic, and legal implications for local communities.

Click HERE to receive updates on immigration enforcement issues

Large cost to local taxpayers

When local sheriffs’ offices sign 287g agreements, they are pledging to pay for a big part of the cost of doing immigration enforcement work. This even includes paying for travel and lodging for employees to receive the training required to participate in the program.

This is from the Wake County’s sheriff’s office 287g agreement: “The WSCO is responsible for the salaries and benefits, including overtime, of its personnel being trained or performing duties under this MOA… The WCSO will cover the costs of all WSCO personnel’s travel, housing, and per diem affiliated with the training required for participation in this MOA.”

The local resources that 287g agreements consume could be utilized for other vital public safety needs. When the sheriff in Harris County, Texas pulled out of its 287g agreement, the sheriff’s office was able to reassign ten deputies, and their $675,000 in salary costs to other local priorities.

Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Now we know how much North Carolina CEOs are paid compared to their employees

If you’ve wondered why wages for most working people remain stagnant during a period of record stock market values and corporate profits, a recent article in the Winston-Salem Journal provides some insight. The gap between what CEOs rake in and what the typical workers in their companies are paid has exploded since the 1970s, and new data shows how much of their companies’ success is being captured by corporate leaders.

Thanks to a relatively unheralded provision in the Dodd-Frank Act, corporations are now required to report how much more CEOs at individual companies are paid compared to their typical employee. This requirement sheds important light into the often murky waters of CEO compensation, and what emerges from the gloom is often shocking.

“Even though corporations have received criticism for multi-million-dollar executive payouts from rank-and-file employees, worker advocates and some shareholders, the compensation levels typically boiled the pot for just a few days….

“Analysts and economists say the new CEO pay ratio has the potential to make the issue more of a paycheck and dinner table conversation, or it could just provide another throw-up-your-hands, what-can-you-do round of frustration.”

Pay at our countries’ largest companies has not always been this lopsided. According to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, the pay gap between CEOs and workers was 20-to-1 in 1960, rose to 89-to-1 by the late 1990s, and surged to 271-to-1 by 2016.

With many CEOs at the helm of companies based in North Carolina receiving hundreds, and in some cases more than a thousand, times what their typical workers receive, it’s small wonder that many working families can’t make ends meet. Hopefully, this newfound transparency will raise awareness of just how unbalanced compensation has become and will incite political and business leaders to take real action to ensure that everyone shares in the benefits of economic growth and quarterly profits.