RALEIGH (May 28, 2019) – The Senate proposal sets spending levels so low that North Carolina will lose another year making up lost ground rather than raising spending to meet the unmet needs in communities, support the well-being of every North Carolinian, and lay the foundation for a stronger economic future.
Tax cuts that primarily benefit the few at the top are, in part, driving this low level of investment in the public good. But so is the belief that our collective commitment to well-being can afford to be meager because it will only affect North Carolinians who are poor and already marginalized.
Public investments matter to all of us. The health and success of our neighbors affects the overall strength of our communities and economy. Indeed, public investments have played a critical role in strengthening the well-being of entire communities and economies. Whether it is the evidence that early childhood investments pay off, second chances strengthen families and communities, or increasing educational attainment can improve growth, findings from across the country and from our own North Carolina history have proven the power of smart public investments.
Time and again over the past decade, North Carolinians have urged policymakers to focus on more than tax cuts to address the unmet needs in communities. Parents seek quality public schools and affordable child care for their children. Communities want to protect the safety and health of their families and promote economic opportunities and the entrepreneurs that are ready to build upon a business idea. Families want older North Carolinians to be able to live with dignity in their communities and make sure their family members with disabilities can access supportive services and institutions.
Instead, our legislative leaders have chosen to cut taxes for the few and diminish spending in the face of community needs. They have blocked the pathway for all North Carolinians striving for financial security and substantially reduced the quality of life that we all deserve.
Failure to engage with our persisting economic challenges — low economic mobility, high inequality and concentrations of poverty alongside wage growth out of pace with the cost of living, and inconsistent job growth — in combination with an acute failure to make critical and sustained public investments, leaves our state with a budget that not only fails to look forward but leaves us at a severe disadvantage as we seek to compete globally and deliver a quality of life at home.
The economic imperative for North Carolina in these good times is to remove barriers to opportunity and build pathways to greater equity in our state. The state budget is a powerful tool for our leaders to achieve a stronger economy and the well-being that every North Carolinian deserves. Unfortunately, the Senate budget has taken another backwards step to funding the state’s critical needs. The result is far from what our communities and families deserve.