Budget: Comments by Louisa Warren House Appropriations Public Hearing, May 24, 2010

Comments for House Appropriations Public Hearing
May 24, 2010
Louisa Warren, NC Justice Center


I’m Louisa Warren with the North Carolina Justice Center.  I am also here as a member of Together NC.

First I want to thank you for taking a balanced approach last session when you were facing a staggering budget shortfall. 

As you move forward with crafting another difficult budget, we urge you to take both a short-view and a long-view. 

Taking the short-view means attending to the urgent economic crisis at hand and preserving the state services that directly assist those struggling families hardest hit by the recession. 

At the same time, take a forward-looking approach.  Avoid quick fixes that ignore the fundamental root of the fiscal crisis we’re facing—our outdated and volatile revenue system. 

To that end, we present you with two lists.  Three good ideas we’ve seen in the Governor’s and Senate’s budgets and three ideas we urge you to reconsider. 

The good.  We believe it’s responsible and economically beneficial to:

1.    Support adult workers who need re-training and new skills to compete in today’s economy by fully funding Community College enrollment.

2.    Ensure that low-income children and adults have access to quality and affordable health coverage by expanding NC Health Choice and maintaining funding for Medicaid services such as dental coverage.

3.    Provide access to safe and affordable housing to low-income families by maintaining funding for the Housing Trust Fund.  

Now, three things we urge you to reconsider.  We believe it’s irresponsible to North Carolina’s working families and our economy to support:

1.    Misguided tax cuts and regressive and punitive fee increases that sacrifice precious state revenue, don’t create jobs, and target the very populations that need assistance, not fees.

2.    Disproportionate cuts to early childhood programs such as More at Four and Smart Start, which will result in short-term job cuts and long-term consequences to the academic achievement and future of all North Carolina children.

3.    Harming programs that aid at-risk students, reduce the achievement gap, and support strong public schools in general.  Specifically, we are concerned with the elimination of the Dropout Prevention Grants and cuts to the Disadvantaged Supplement Student Fund, as well as the overall harmful cuts to local school districts.

In sum, we urge you to prioritize the critical investments that help struggling families meet their basic needs while paying for these investments with stable, fair-minded, and responsible revenue sources.

Thank you.