State budget limits North Carolina's full potential
With session over, the new state budget for next fiscal year paints a clear picture of the lack of investment our state leaders have in North Carolina, while they give out more tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. It is clear that lawmakers in Raleigh simply want to pander to their donors, leaving the rest of us behind.
North Carolina lawmakers approved a 2017 fiscal year state budget that falls short of being a visionary plan for the state’s future. The pursuit of a rigid spending formula combined with another round of tax breaks prevented lawmakers from proposing an adequate budget, let alone a bold one.
These new tax breaks come on top of recent tax breaks, which together are projected to cost more than $2 billion annually once fully implemented. These are resources that the state will not have for public education, affordable housing, the court system, and other vital services that help children, families, and communities thrive. Instead, these multiple rounds of tax breaks will primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations who are already doing well in today’s uneven and weak economic recovery.
The $22.34 billion budget that lawmakers enacted reflects their limited aspirations for North Carolina, increasing spending by only 2.8 percent, or $606.7 million, over 2016. While the budget reinvests in some worthy programs and services, these additional investments represent a small fraction of what is needed to boost economic opportunity and help North Carolinians doing their best to get by—North Carolinians like the children stuck on persistently long waitlists for early childhood education, jobless workers facing too few jobs and job training programs, and older adults going without the in-home and community support that they need.
The new state budget is the latest in an ever-lengthening series that continue to underinvest in North Carolina’s essential structures and services and abet the demise of middle class prosperity. The new BTC report is not a happy read, but it’s one that deserves the close attention of all who care about our state and its future.