RALEIGH (May 18, 2022) – As the North Carolina General Assembly convenes for the short session on May 18, the legislature must prioritize passing a comprehensive budget that advances equity and prosperity for all people in our state.

In his budget recommendation, Governor Cooper called on the General Assembly to invest in public education and make affordable housing, health care, and child care a reality for all families.

We at the North Carolina Justice Center know that behind the dollar amounts and policy jargon of a state budget are real people—our friends, family, and neighbors. This is why we call on the General Assembly to pass a budget that includes Medicaid expansion; invests significantly in our public schools; provides resources for successful reentry for those with criminal records; significantly increases ongoing funding for affordable and safe housing; and increases access to good jobs for all North Carolinians, regardless of their race, economic status, involvement with the criminal legal system, or immigration status.

Without these investments, 600,000 North Carolinians who could gain access to quality, affordable health care will again go without. North Carolina’s affordable housing crisis will get worse. Children in our schools and early childhood programs—particularly students of color and students with low incomes—will continue to lack the basic resources owed under the state constitution despite ample revenue available. The two million North Carolinians involved with the criminal legal system will lack the services needed to reduce recidivism. Lastly, the robust safety net programs we need to weather future pandemics and economic downturns will not be adequate in the decades ahead unless we invest in them today.

As the legislature embarks on the short session, we implore our elected leaders to adopt a budget that includes these people-first policies and looks toward a future of opportunity and prosperity for all.