NC Budget and Tax Center

The possibility of a government shutdown was avoidable

For those of us digging out of the snow still, it may be surprising to learn that our country is facing a federal shutdown that could begin tomorrow based on the lack of progress on a long-term deal to fund programs and services, to ensure children have health care, and to make sure young adults have pathways to education and jobs no matter where they come from.

To avoid a shutdown, the House in Congress voted yesterday to approve legislation that would keep agency doors open and hundreds of thousands of federal employees at work through Feb. 16. It is now up to the Senate to decide today whether it will take the House bill and approve another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a federal shutdown.

Where we are now is not inevitable. It is the result of a failure to put together long-term plans for funding government and the preference for tax cuts that have grown the deficit.  Despite broad public support and bipartisan agreement that we should fund children’s health insurance and fix the temporary protections for immigrants who arrived in this country as children, these two issues are now caught up in this short-sighted deal-making. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina can afford smaller class sizes, but not with corporate tax cuts

The next wave of disruptions to children’s educational success will not be another recession — it is the result of the decision by policymakers to put tax cuts ahead of that goal.

Policymakers should not get credit for acknowledging that smaller class sizes are important to children getting to third-grade reading proficiency and succeeding in school until they put the resources behind it.

Instead, state leaders passed another round of personal and corporate income tax cuts in the final budget this summer that will reduce state revenues by $900 million when in effect for a full fiscal year.  The reduction of the corporate income tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent alone will account for roughly $100 million in revenue that could otherwise have been a down-payment on their pledge to reduce class sizes.

Funding the class-size reductions mandated by the same General Assembly would require at least $300 million.

Here’s why stopping the 2019 corporate income tax rate cuts is an important first step for policymakers to take immediately to prove their commitment to children’s educational success. Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Devastating consequences if Congress fails to replace DACA in three months

Ever since the Trump administration decided to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in September, tens of thousands of North Carolinians’ lives have been plunged into turmoil. It is now up to Congress to pass a viable long-term solution, or risk tearing families apart, undermining our economy, and throwing a wrench into public finances.

Dream Act would grow North Carolina’s Economy

The simplest solution is to pass the Dream Act, legislation that would codify the basic deal that DACA offers to undocumented immigrants brought here as children who commit to furthering their education and staying out of trouble with the law.

In addition to the stability and opportunity each “DACAmented” individual would obtain through a legislative fix, analysis by the Center for American Progress estimates that passing the Dream Act would increase North Carolina’s long-term economic output by at least $550 million per year, an impact that could grow to almost $2 billion annually if at least half of the people eligible for DACA pursue higher education.

Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Statement on final GOP tax plan from Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center

The tax plan passed by Senate Republicans is an expensive giveaway to major corporations and wealthy households that offers little or nothing to most families and ultimately hurts many. The plan will end health care for millions of Americans, raise premiums, and increase deficits, which will in turn be used to justify dangerous cuts that will threaten working families. It is no surprise that this is the most unpopular tax legislation in three decades.

This was just the first step in a two-step agenda that will seek deep budget cuts that would further hurt low- and middle-income people by targeting everything from nutrition assistance for families to education, Medicaid, and infrastructure. And because proposals to cut federal spending almost always involve shifting costs down to state and local governments, this agenda will put even more pressure on North Carolina’s budget, with cuts to state services with widely shared benefits—such as schools, roads, parks, and libraries—likely to follow.

Because of our own flawed experiment with trickle-down economics, our state is challenged to even sustain current service levels for the growing population. Further cuts to federal funds to deliver services in North Carolina—used in the final budget for priorities like NC pre-K and infrastructure—should lead to a suspension of scheduled tax cuts in the state in January 2019.

The whole North Carolina delegation should commit now to stand against budget cuts that would further hurt everyday Americans and North Carolinians. The General Assembly should follow suit and commit to planning for the cost shift likely to leave even more needs unmet in the future.

For more on the impact of the final tax plan on North Carolina, see the following analysis by ITEP:

How the Final GOP-Trump Tax Bill Would Affect North Carolina Residents’ Federal Taxes

 

NC Budget and Tax Center

Thousands of North Carolinians stand to lose from Step #2 of the GOP tax plan

The Senate and the House in Congress have reached a deal for a tax plan that would give unnecessary tax cuts to the richest top 5 percent of Americans and most profitable corporations. This deal now clears the way for final votes next week. That this tax bill is full of tax games, roadblocks, and glitches that will drive up the federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion has been widely reported. What is not widely covered is that passing the tax plan and increasing the deficit is only the first of two steps planned by Congress.

The second step involves lawmakers using the deficit they created to justify major budget cuts to federal investments that help millions of North Carolinians.

Below is a brief list that provides the total number of North Carolinians that currently receive assistance from a major federal program that could be affected from the second step of the tax plan. Included in the total numbers are children, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

  • Medicaid: 2,024,342
  • Medicare: 1,883,428
  • SNAP (food assistance): 972,535
  • Housing Assistance: 256,545
  • Supplemental Security Income: 233,432
  • Health Marketplace Enrollees: 549,155
  • Pell Grants: 223,633

Some Congressional leaders have already stated publicly their intent to cut programs and services starting next year. In many cases some federal programs could be cut to nothing automatically as a result of a 2010 law that Congress passed to keep itself from increasing the deficit too much.

Luis A. Toledo is a Public Policy Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.