Sixteen months ago, at the start of the 2009 session of the General Assembly, North Carolina faced the gravest economic and fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Fortunately, state leaders rose to the occasion.
Though not always perfect, for the most part, the policies adopted last year helped directly soften the blow of the recession on hundreds of thousands of struggling families and prime the economic recovery pump in a way that benefited millions more. To their lasting credit, state leaders recognized the fact that "what is good for average people is good for the economy."
This spring, as lawmakers reconvene for the 2010 short session, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in more than two years, economic activity is on the rebound. Slowly, steadily, a sense of renewed optimism is returning to the state. But, of course, the work of state government is far from over. With the beginning of a recovery in sight, now is no time to let up. The role of state government – in assuring economic security for people living on the edge and boosting the economy as a whole – is more important than ever. For this reason, it is essential that state leaders keep pushing ahead with policies that invest in people, preserve and strengthen essential structures and services and advance the cause of reform.
To these important ends, the North Carolina Justice Center recommends the following list of policy priorities for the 2010 North Carolina General Assembly.