RALEIGH (April 14, 2015) — The Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, and partners hosted a telepresser on Monday to kick off Tax Week. In additon to talking about why North Carolinians can “thank taxes” for supporting a stronger economy and public investments, speakers also described how reducing available revenue is eroding the state’s ability to build and plan for the future.

“The 2013 tax cuts for the wealthy forced the state to slash programs that would have helped workers recover from the recession and rebuild their lives,” said Jeremy Sprinkle, communications director of the NC AFL-CIO, adding that workforce development, child care subsidies and the Earned Income Tax Credit have all been cut or eliminated in the years since the tax cuts. “If lawmakers want to create jobs, they need to invest in workers, and investment takes revenue, revenue that is lost by cutting taxes.”

North Carolina’s tax dollars fund public schools, health and human development initiatives, courts and public safety, and environmental protections—all part of the infrastructure of opportunity in the state.

“Recent changes to our state’s tax system increased the challenges North Carolina faces in ensuring that every student has a chance at a quality education,” said Rodney Ellis, director of the North Carolina Association for Educators. “If we are serious about every child’s future, we have to get serious about what works. That means investing in modern textbooks and technology, more one-on-one interaction between students and teachers, and a quality educator in the front of every class.”

Quality early childhood education and child care are both essential for caring for North Carolina’s youngest residents. The success of these programs are dependent on legislators making needed investments in our state budget, and the revenue for such investments comes from tax dollars.

“Despite waiting lists and great needs in these areas, policymakers have continued to prioritize tax cuts for corporations and top earners over investing in early childhood education and care programs,” said Beth Messersmith, director of MomsRising NC. “Far from saving money in the budget, these cuts actually rob us of valuable financial gains both now and in the future. The current lack of investment in early childhood education and child care damages our ability to build the highly skilled workforce necessary to compete in the national and global economy.”

Environmental protections have also fallen prey to revenue challenges. Over the last several years, rather than pursue opportunities to leverage clean technology and innovation to protect the environment and spur job growth, the state budget has ignored the need to protect North Carolina’s most valuable resources.

“Rather than layoffs and restructuring in our department of environmental protection, we need jobs that restore our wetlands and remediate past harms,” said Dan Crawford, director of governmental relations at the League of Conservation Voters. “Rather than corporate welfare and tax cuts for polluters, we need to divert subsidies earmarked for the fossil fuel industry to further boost renewable energy investment.”

Here are five fast facts about Taxes in North Carolina:

  • More than half of the North Carolina’s revenue is collected through individual income taxes.
  • More than half of North Carolina’s revenue invests in K-12 and higher education.
  • The total taxes paid in the state by profitable corporations as a share of the economy has dropped from 9 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2014.
  • North Carolina’s lowest income taxpayers pay 9.2 percent of their annual income in total state and local taxes while the state’s highest income taxpayers, with average incomes of $1 million, pay just 5.3 percent.
  • Revenue growth year over year is far below historic levels limiting the ability of the state to support a thriving economy.

“Building a great future for North Carolina’s families and communities rests, in part, on creating and maintaining high quality public systems that support vibrant communities across the state,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center. “We can’t afford to let the public structures that previous generations built, such as universities, erode to the point that they don’t serve their intended public purposes. To compete and thrive, our policymakers must prioritize making the tax code work to support these investments and opportunity for all.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).