The consensus revenue forecast released today provides further evidence not just of the economic harm of COVID-19 but the ways in which it is putting in relief long-term certainties about our economy. More than ever how people are faring and what policy decisions are made to support their well-being will make a difference for the state’s economic recovery.
Economists with the Fiscal Research Division and Office of State Budget and Management are cautiously projecting revenue losses as deep as the Great Recession but lift up many questions that remain about how this downturn and the recovery will play out and that those numbers could change.
We can be certain, however, that our leaders at the federal and state level can put in place policies today to support people and in turn our economy.
Only through a bold policy agenda that rejects the status quo can our state hope to bend this latest curve upward so that we can secure an inclusive recovery and ensure all communities can thrive.
The weaknesses of our last economic expansion made our state less resilient in the face of this pandemic. Too many North Carolinians were living paycheck to paycheck, too many didn’t have access to affordable health insurance, too many couldn’t afford safe housing or putting food on the table each night. Too many barriers to good jobs and the capital to start new businesses persisted for Black and brown North Carolinians.
Our leaders must go further to provide people with the supports to make it through this pandemic. A pro-growth agenda can’t ignore the drag of inequities and hardship any longer but must first invest in every person’s well-being.
Even with the projected revenue losses, North Carolina leaders can make smart choices to quicken the recovery for more people.
Now is the time for our state leaders to call for additional federal aid to states and local governments that is sufficient and flexible to fill this revenue shortfall. Now is the time to look to smart, targeted revenue options at the state level that can undo tax cuts that have hampered our public response.
In this moment and for the future, North Carolina must have the foundation of public services and institutions in place to deliver well-being to all.