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NC Budget and Tax Center

Women will join together at the Bicentennial Mall (near the state legislature) at 5pm today to demand better public policies that would improve the lives of women and families. The rally is part of the North Carolina NAACP’s Moral Monday Movement Summer of Moral Resistance, with support from women’s coalitions such as NC Women United.moralwednesday

Speakers will lift up the fallout from Governor McCrory’s and the state legislature’s policies that have been to the detriment—not the benefit—of Tar Heel women. These policy decisions include the underfunding of education from early education and care to college, shifting taxes away from the wealthy and onto everyone else, failing to expand Medicaid, refusing to give workers the dignity of a minimum wage increase, and enacting the nation’s worst voter suppression law.

Just on the economy issue alone it is easy to see why women will show up tonight and use their voices for change. Women have made tremendous economic strides over the last few decades. Yet, women are still more likely than men to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay the bills.

The fact that women face more economic hardships than men is well-documented in the data. Here are some quick facts from my latest poverty report, North Carolina’s Greatest Challenge, that put Tar Heel women’s economic struggle into perspective:

  • The poverty rate for women in the state was 19.3 percent in 2013 compared to 16.4 percent for men. That year, Tar Heel women earned just 82.9 cents for every dollar men earned.
  • Nearly 156,500 women in the state would have to be lifted out of poverty for women to have the same poverty rate as men.
  • Women of color face particularly high rates of poverty. In 2013, Latina, American Indian, and African American women were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as Asian and white women.
  • Three in four children who were poor lived in families with at least one worker.
  • Gender inequality extends into retirement age too: older female adults are far more likely to struggle to make ends meet than men.

Put simply, from Murphy to Manteo the economy is just downright broken for many women and their families. North Carolina needs policies that create equal opportunity and ensure that prosperity is broadly shared so that all North Carolinians can reach their potential. Yet, the policies that lawmakers are prioritizing are not aligned with the research and fail to meet this standard. Women and allies will join forces tonight to demand better choices to help ensure a better future for us all.

Your silence will not protect you—as Audre Lorde declared. Details are here if you want to join them.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Last week, the North Carolina House of Representatives approved a $22.2 billion state budget plan, which is overall a modest step towards building an economy that works for all North Carolinians. The budget represents a 5-percent increase over current year spending and the highest level of investments since the official economic recovery began in 2009.Yet, the plan still falls short of pre-recession levels of investments, fails to replace years of harmful cuts, and does not reflect all that’s needed to foster inclusive economic growth.

Unfortunately it is now clear—based on newly released spending targets—that the Senate is poised to severely limit spending rather than follow the House’s lead on making modest improvements. Low spending targets may be linked to the Senate leadership’s desire to “significantly” cut income taxes even further—a move that would hinder reinvestment in programs and fail to generate promised economic returns.

The Senate’s low spending targets make plain the shortsightedness of such an approach. For example, investments in public schools would only increase by .013 percent after accounting for enrollment growth. School systems and students would have to go without essentials that support academic achievement and completion, hindering the long-term growth potential of the state.

As the Senate moves forward in the budget process, budget writers should keep and build upon the House’s planned investments in the things that build a more inclusive economy so the state can better position itself to be competitive. Further deep tax cuts hinder lawmakers’ ability to achieve this goal. Below is a list of ten examples of economy-boosting investments and policy changes that the House included in its budget plan. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The budget passed by House members last week makes clear that North Carolina remains hampered by costly decisions made in recent years. Despite modest improvements in some areas of the budget, important public investments that drive the state forward remain well below pre-recession spending levels. The House budget is a reflection of choices and an example of missed opportunities.

Modest funding increases in the House budget are primarily the result of moving the goal post. For example, fully funding enrollment growth for our public schools and providing teachers and state employees a two-percent pay increase are typical budget practices, particularly in budgets crafted during a recovery.

The budget hikes various fees, increases tuition at community colleges, fails to reinstate the state Earned Income Tax Credit, and resorts to cutting funding from certain programs to fund others (e.g., the House reduced funding for textbooks in order to fund other areas of the public education budget).

Rather than address persistent underinvestment and seize opportunities to support a stronger economy, state lawmakers will allow another round of corporate tax cuts to go into effect – reducing annual revenue by $100 million in the first year, $350 million the second year, and more than $500 million in subsequent years.

Revenue lost just from these additional corporate tax cuts, which state leaders seem unwilling to debate, could provide funding for much-needed public services that strengthen our communities and the state’s economy. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

This piece was originally featured on Women AdvaNCe’s blog and is cross-posted here.

Working Tar Heel moms are never off the clock. From laboring at the workplace all day to tucking kids in at night, we put in a lot more than a full day’s work. Much of the work is tireless, thankless, and unpaid. But for the paid work, every dollar moms work for is hard earned. These are some of the many reasons why we celebrated moms this week.

Flowers and breakfast were great, but this Mother’s Day we needed to keep our sights on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Congress can help 750,000 moms right here in North Carolina by making permanent improvements to tax credits that put money back into the pockets of moms who’ve earned it. Without action from Congress, these credits expire at the end of 2017.

The state’s economy is experiencing a boom in low-wage work—a trend that is falling disproportionately hard on women. For more than 21 million working moms across the country, including 763,000 in North Carolina, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are important tools that help them make ends meet in today’s economy. By offsetting income and sales taxes, these credits boost income, support work, and reduce poverty—especially among children.

Allowing moms to keep more of what they earn also helps keep poverty in check. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Last week, state officials announced that revenues are estimated to come in $400 million above projections set by the state. This is good news for North Carolina, as we previously noted, but it’s important to remember that it is a relatively small boost that doesn’t come close to covering the cuts to services made since the recession and is likely one-time money driven by the improving national economy, not North Carolina’s tax code. These considerations are timely as the House plans to fast track its budget, with the goal to release and approve a proposal by the end of next week ahead of the holiday weekend.

Most importantly, this revenue announcement will not come close to addressing the challenges that state budget writers face. There remains a very deep level of underinvestment in schools, higher education, and communities, and lawmakers’ choice to pass cut taxes that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations in 2014 and again in 2015 means that there are far fewer dollars available to position the state competitively.

Here are a few things about the revised revenue estimates that state lawmakers should keep in mind as they work on the state budget:

  1. A surplus means we have more than we expected, not that we have more than we need.

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