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NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina is known for having an appealing quality of life, with communities across the state offering a great place to raise a family and operate a business. Safe and healthy communities play an important role in contributing to this quality of life in what we North Carolinians call home.

Decisions made by state leaders highlight a lagging commitment to enhancing the quality of life within communities across the Tar Heel state. In the current budget, state leaders disregarded Gov. McCrory’s recommendation to provide funding for drug treatment courts, which is a cost-efficient way to provide drug treatment and support to individuals with substance abuse dependencies. State lawmakers did however create “cost savings” by reclassifying certain low-level offenses and allowing them to be punishable by fines instead of jail time – one particular tradeoff is that such defendants will now have convictions on their records despite not having a right to counsel. This could affect their employment prospects and access to other opportunities. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Shifting more of the responsibility for funding schools to localities, as some North Carolina lawmakers are advocating, would trap many children in underfunded schools and force up property taxes.
 
Our K-12 public schools are already suffering from significant cuts in state funding made by the legislature in recent years. For the current school year, state funding per student is 11 percent lower ($653 less) compared to six years ago, taking account of inflation. This has meant fewer teachers and teaching assistants in classrooms, larger class sizes, less money for textbooks and other instructional material, and an average salary for North Carolina teachers that ranks 46th among states.
 
Further reducing the state’s commitment to our school children would make these troubling trends even worse, particularly in poorer school districts, and turn our education system into one of haves and have-nots. That’s because state money helps schools in areas with few local resources fill in the gaps, allowing children who live in those communities to have some of the same opportunities as children who live in wealthier communities. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

At a time when we should be boosting investments to ensure that the Tar Heel state can compete for good-paying jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, our legislative leaders have taken a different path. Our prized public 4-year university system serves as an example.

Since 2008, state funding on a per student basis within the UNC System has been cut by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. Managing these funding cuts have meant reducing course offerings, which can prolong the time it takes students to graduate; reducing academic- and student-support services; and steady tuition hikes. For the 2014 academic year, the average tuition and fees cost with the university system is around $6,100, up from around $4,400 in 2008 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.

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NC Budget and Tax Center

In case this news hasn’t reached readers, North Carolina residents should expect to begin paying sales taxes on their online purchases through Amazon.com (Amazon), the online retailer, beginning next month. Come February 1st North Carolina will become the 20th state in which Amazon collects a sales tax on online purchases.                

Since Amazon does not have physical, brick-and-mortar stores or operations here in North Carolina, the company is not required by law to collect a sales tax on online sales made to North Carolina residents. North Carolina taxpayers are supposed to voluntarily report their online purchases on their state income taxes and pay a “use tax”, but it appears that few taxpayers do so considering the significant loss of revenue for the state, as well as for cities and counties.

The NC Department of Revenue estimates that the state loses as much as $214 million in online sales taxes each year, according to a news report. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

This month, taxpayers receiving their paychecks are seeing changes in their take-home pay.  Some will see more, some less since the tax plan passed last year delivers income tax cuts depending on individual taxpayer circumstances.

The benefits from the new tax law will accrue primarily to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. In total, the tax plan passed last year reduces revenue by nearly $525 million over the next two years. The foregone investments for our communities that will result from these tax cuts will impact us all.

Consider what could have been done to improve the classroom experience of our students in K-12 public schools if policymakers hadn’t chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations. These dollars could have been used to provide a package of investments in public education such as:

  • Keeping 1 in 5 teacher assistant jobs in FY15
  • Doubling current funding for textbooks in FY15 Read More