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greenwayLast week I wrote about the large and immediate cut to pedestrian and bike greenway funding in the NC Senate’s version of the budget.  Well that budget cut is still in the final version.  It’s delayed for some current projects, but puts NC on the road (not bikeway) to funding elimination.  Some folks who have contacted their Senators are getting the usual attempt-to-confuse-the-issue answers from their representatives.  The particular line is the old unpopular budget cutter’s saw, “flexibility.”  As in:  ”Oh, we are giving cities flexibility to fund greenways out of other pots of money, so this really isn’t a cut that hurts.”  Well, there is a cut, it is to greenways, and it will mean less money for building stuff other than roads.

Don’t believe me?  Look at NC Senator Apodaca’s quote in Bruce Siceloff’s N+O story yesterday.  I’d say it about sums it up:

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On the Senate Tax Plan receiving tentative approval:

The Senate tax plan will give tax cuts to the wealthy and profitable corporations while everyone else pays the price.

The loss of revenue for public education, the health and well-being of seniors and children, and our communities will harm everyday North Carolinians and the economy’s long-term health. Some North Carolinians will even experience income tax increases, including some seniors and families.

North Carolinians want a tax plan that won’t risk the things that have made our state great, especially not on a strategy that has been a proven failure in other states.

On the House Budget passing third reading:

Unfortunately the House is following path similar as the Senate by writing a budget that prioritizes tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthiest instead of adequately funding our vital public investments. Our children, seniors and everyday families will suffer under this approach, and it will hurt our economy. We need an educated and trained workforce for a 21st century economy, and underfunding our public school system, community colleges, and universities takes us in the wrong direction.

 

The tax plan that North Carolina’s Senate leaders unveiled yesterday should not be mistaken for tax reform. It is, in reality, a plan to gut North Carolina’s schools, public colleges and universities, infrastructure, and other key state investments that promote long-run prosperity.

The plan’s massive tax cuts, which would mainly benefit large corporations and the wealthy, would cost the state $1.3 billion each year once fully in place, roughly the entire annual budget for North Carolina’s community colleges. Blowing such a massive hole in the budget would jeopardize the quality public schools, nationally-recognized public university system, and other assets that have attracted businesses — and jobs — to the state in industries like financial services and scientific research.

Other states that considered similar proposals this year backed off in part because of the reality that huge tax cuts for the wealthy must be paid for with untenable reductions in funding for schools and other state services, tax hikes on others, or both. The North Carolina Senate’s plan ignores that reality and opts instead for wishful thinking.

Claims that the Senate plan will cause North Carolina’s economy to boom are simply empty promises. Any boost from cutting income taxes will be canceled out by the spending cuts or tax increases the state will be forced to adopt to balance its budget.

Elimination of the corporate income tax is largely a giveaway to multistate corporations that — rather than creating jobs — will likely stick the savings in an out-of-state bank or use it to pay higher dividends to stockholders, most of whom don’t live in North Carolina.

The plan’s personal income tax cuts won’t likely create jobs, either. Most small businesses would get a tax cut so small that it wouldn’t even cover one worker’s salary. Plus, small businesses rely on state education, roads, and other services that would degrade year after year under this plan.

To ensure a bright economic future, North Carolina should focus on strengthening the K-12 and higher education systems that have set the state apart in the past but faced deep cuts in recent years due to the recession. Blowing a huge hole in the state budget would make that crucial task much harder. North Carolina has nothing to gain and much to lose from the Senate’s misguided plan.

Like the Senate, the House budget fails to invest in our state’s future. Since the House budget contains costly new policies, such as a school voucher program, it will be very difficult for the state to provide our kids with a quality education, which hurts not just kids, but our economy too. Businesses need a skilled workforce to grow and thrive, so failing to adequately invest in education will cause long term pain in our state.

The House budget also has a placeholder for an expensive tax package. The $525 million that the House plans to spend on tax cuts for the wealthy would be better used to improve our schools and communities.

In all of the slashing and cutting that’s going on within this budget process, you might have missed a small but important provision to eliminate the Displaced Homemaker Program. It was in the budget adopted by the Senate last month and showed up this morning in the money report from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. Despite the admittedly outdated-sounding name, this program provides important workforce development services to a population with significant barriers to self-sufficiency.

“Displaced homemakers” have traditionally been those who have provided unpaid household services for their homes and families and can’t secure living wage employment because of a lack of training or experience. Examples of today’s displaced homemakers  include an under-employed working parent Read More