North Carolina’s ability to make public investments crucial to promoting widespread prosperity and a growing economy will be sharply constrained for at least the next two years. As a result, ensuring high-quality learning and education opportunities for all North Carolina children and students remains a challenge.

The reason: the state tax cuts reflected in the budget under which the state must live through June of 2017. Those tax cuts will reduce available revenue for the biennium by $841.8 million. These costly tax cuts come on top of costly tax cuts passed by state lawmakers in 2013. Those are resources the state will not have for public education, community economic development, the court system, and other vital services that helped promote broad economic gains for North Carolinians in the past.

Within four years the annual cost of the tax cuts balloons to over $1 billion, as rate reductions for individual taxpayers and profitable corporations phase in to their full impact.

Public investments in a wide range of areas, including early childhood development and public schools, are the essential building blocks of long-term economic growth and shared prosperity. Yet at this critical point in the state’s uneven and slow economic recovery, policymakers chose to deliver greater benefits to the wealthiest few rather than build a solid foundation that supports opportunity for many.

This BTC Brief is a companion to the BTC Report: Diminished Expectations and the Resulting Drag on North Carolina’s Economy—A Summary of the Fiscal Year 2015-17 Budget. This issue brief takes a close look at public investments in public education – from early childhood through college.