NC Budget and Tax Center

Expanding Medicaid is not just the right thing to do, it’s smart economics

As Governor Cooper pressures legislative leaders to join the overwhelming majority of states that have expanded Medicaid, a new report shows how much North Carolina’s economy stands to gain from going down that road.

Authored by researchers at George Washington University, the report updates an analysis originally conducted in 2014. This current iteration projects that Medicaid expansion could add more than 37,000 jobs in North Carolina by 2022 and boost economic activity by over $11 billion annually.

Expansion would bring billions a year in federal funds to provide lifesaving coverage to very low-income North Carolinians who currently don’t qualify for Medicaid. Even with the state kicking in a dime for every 90 cents in federal funds, expansion provides an incredibly good deal for North Carolina. By 2022, when Medicaid expansion could be fully phased-in, North Carolina stands to receive $4.7 billion in annual federal funding. That capital would support over 20,000 new jobs in the health care field, but would also create another 16,600 jobs in the broader economy as health care professionals spend their salaries on goods and services like housing, food, clothing, education, and recreation. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center, News

Statement from Rick Glazier of the NC Justice Center on the Conference Budget

RALEIGH (June 25, 2019) – The conference report agreed upon by leaders of the Senate and House compromises the well-being of our state and should be vetoed by Governor Cooper.

The proposal for state spending keeps investment so low that North Carolina will be well below the historic average in a critical year. By failing to take advantage of the national economic expansion, make progress towards meeting community needs, and undoing damaging cuts that have been made year after year, this budget proposal misses the opportunity to strengthen our foundation for a stronger economic future.

Tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy few at the top are, in part, driving this low level of investment in the public good, as is the belief that our collective commitment to well-being can afford to be meager because it will only affect North Carolinians who are poor or already marginalized.

The reality is that public investments matter to us all. The success of our neighbors affects the overall strength of our communities and economy.

The next round of tax cuts in this budget proposal — on top of those already passed — will result in nearly $4 billion in lower revenue to meet communities’ pressing needs. The proposal, once again, fails to prioritize the education of our children in quality classrooms and child care centers, and access to health care for our neighbors.

Health care cannot wait. The failure to expand Medicaid in this budget is a choice that prolongs the suffering of too many North Carolinians and undercuts the well-being of communities across the state.

The state budget is a powerful tool for our leaders to promote the security that every North Carolinian deserves. Unfortunately, the conference budget has prioritized tax cuts for the few over investment in the public good and failed to pursue Medicaid expansion to provide health care to half a million North Carolinians.

This proposal should be vetoed by the Governor because it fails to respond to the priorities of North Carolinians today and compromises the safety and health of generations to come.

 

NC Budget and Tax Center

Bill to require locals to enforce federal immigration law will cost taxpayers millions

Last night, the North Carolina Senate passed its version of House Bill 370, which would force North Carolina sheriffs to act as an extension of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Beyond the harmful costs to communities of increased fear, decreased willingness to engage with law enforcement, and family separation, there are costs to local governments of enforcing federal immigration laws. These costs come primarily in the form of holding individuals in jails while awaiting transfer to ICE custody, but also include the potential cost of litigation from unlawful detention.

Using methods from other states and informed by national researchers, our analysis of the costs to North Carolina of enforcing collaboration with ICE finds a conservative annual cost of $7 million to local governments across the state using updated data available from 2018 ICE detainers issued in our state. When a detainer is placed on an individual, the detainer extends the length of stay in jail for up to 48 hours. These costs are associated with the fact that many individuals are held when they otherwise would have been fined, ticketed, or released pending a trial date. Researchers estimate that the average stay in detention when ICE issues a detainer request is 22 days. North Carolina data from the federal government suggests that individuals with ICE detainers are often held much longer – an averaging of 69 days. The $7 million price tag is based on the more conservative 22-day estimate of detention when ICE issues a detainer.

This calculation is also based on last year’s number of people held on an ICE detainer in North Carolina, which remained below prior peak levels. If the requirement to enforce federal immigration law resulted in increased ICE detainers being issued, reaching similar levels to the 2011 peak, the costs could rise to $14.5 million annually. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Report: Most U.S. citizens would likely fail Trump administration’s “public charge” proposal for immigrants

A new report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the widespread harm that would be caused if the proposed rule released last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — that would substantially change the way some immigrants are assessed as a public charge — if it becomes a final rule. Specifically, the rule would negatively affect many immigrants’ ability to apply for admission to the United States or for current lawful immigrants to seek an extension of stay or change of status.

To illustrate the widespread harm the rule would impose, the report details the number of U.S. citizens that might be deemed a public charge if the rule applied to them, using data that captures public benefits use by U.S.-born citizens over a 19-year period. Researchers approximate that more than half of the U.S.-born population participates in a benefit program over the course of their lifetime that may result in them being deemed a public charge, if the proposed rule was applied to U.S.-born citizens.

In addition to observing the use of public benefits in public charge determinations, the proposed rule introduces an income test among other additional criteria for making an admissibility determination. If implemented, immigration officials would be asked to make a prediction as to whether an immigrant below 125 percent of the federal poverty level may, at some point in the future, use one or more public benefits, or otherwise become dependent on the government for support. This broadening would subject immigrants to the biases of immigration officials and, as the report describes, would have a racially disparate impact on the immigrants allowed in the United States. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Ten slides that explain the differences in the House and Senate budget proposals

The budget is ultimately about priorities and the choices that our elected leaders make about where tax dollars will go. Legislative leaders have already severely restricted the range of choices available artificially by continuing to cut taxes for the wealthy and big companies. When the latest round of tax cuts are in full effect, the state will have an annual loss of nearly $3.6 billion. And the two current budget proposals include additional tax cuts that will result in fewer dollars for the public good than would have otherwise been available.

As the conference budget process continues through the weekend, here are some select items that are important to the well-being of North Carolinians and our communities.

Once the conference report is released, we will analyze how the conference budget decides between these two proposals.

Suzy Khachaturyan is a Policy Analyst at the Budget and Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.