MEDIA RELEASE: Senate budget proposal "strays from key principles" needed for prosperity, Together NC coalition says

Senate budget proposal “strays from key principles” needed for prosperity, coalition says

Leaders of Together NC, a group working on state budget issues, urge lawmakers to think long-term and preserve smart public investments

RALEIGH (April 8, 2009) -- The North Carolina Senate’s proposed budget strays from key principles needed to build shared prosperity, say leaders of a statewide progressive coalition working on budget issues.

“To create real economic recovery, we have to focus on the long-term and invest in North Carolina’s people,” said Elaine Mejia, director of the NC Justice Center’s Budget &Tax Center, one of the Together NC coalition partners. “This budget cuts programs that are proven not only to work, but to save money while educating our people and creating jobs.”

The coalition has identified several core elements of smart, sustainable budget policy. Unfortunately, analysts say, the current proposal undermines these core principles.


  • By divesting from many proven programs that build prosperity for North Carolina, the Senate budget ignores the long run. Hard choices are necessary, but sacrificing the state’s long-term future for meager savings now is unwise and counterproductive. Cutting early childhood initiatives, such as Smart Smart and increasing class sizes in public schools, might save a dime now -- but costs a dollar later.

Smart Smart provides a range of services, from child-case subsidies to wellness screenings, to help kids prepare to succeed in school. This has substantial long-term economic benefits. But the Senate’s budget proposes cutting Smart Start funding by eight percent and increasing public school class sizes by two students per class.

  • The budget proposal contains shortsighted cuts to cost-effective programs, undermining our smart public investments. Alternative programs for at-risk youth face devastating cuts. But these diversionary programs are effective ways to invest in North Carolina’s people while preventing much costlier outcomes like swollen prison populations. The Senate budget would eliminate the Governor’s 1-on-1 program and the Center for the Prevention of School Violence.
  • Modernizing revenue solutions is a fundamental requirement. The Senate plan does include $500 million in new revenues for fiscal year 2009-10 – but provides no detailed information about where those revenues come from. Without this new revenue the Senate’s budget would have even deeper reductions in state services. The root of North Carolina’s fiscal troubles lies in how it collects revenue. The state’s antiquated, inefficient, and volatile revenue system plays a huge role in the current crisis.

    Addressing this issue is essential to solving the budget crisis. Senate budget-writers should craft a revenue plan that improves the stability, long-term adequacy and fairness of state taxes.

Jeff Shaw, communications director, North Carolina Justice Center, 919.863.2402 (office) 503.551.3615 (mobile); Elaine Mejia, Budget & Tax Center, 919.856.2176; Rob Thompson, executive director, Covenant with North Carolina's Children, 919.866.3280 (office)  919.649.2449 (mobile);