Report names 6 policies for putting NC residents, communities, schools, businesses on a path to recovery
RALEIGH (Jan. 25, 2021) — A new brief from the Budget & Tax Center released today provides six priority items for North Carolina legislators to focus on as they convene this week and work on a public response to COVID-19 that will put residents, communities, schools, and businesses on a path to recovery.
The brief finds that North Carolina leaders have the funds to make bold investments today to support a just recovery for North Carolinians and the state economy, even absent additional federal support. The current General Fund unreserved balance of more than $4 billion as of December, which is dollars left after appropriations, provides state leaders with the resources to put together a plan to sustain people and communities through the time it takes to secure signs of a sound and just recovery from the pandemic and its harm.
The latest data released today by the NC Office of the State Controller’s Cash Watch puts that figure at the even higher $5.2 billion as of January 25, 2021.
“The dollars available now are there for our leaders to commit to putting people first in the response to this pandemic and demonstrate their long-term commitment to the public good,” said Suzy Khachaturyan, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.
In addition to identifying priority items for the near term, the brief identifies ways in which legislators can implement policy changes in the next year to get at the systemic issues that have led to disproportionate harm and widespread hardship in our state during this pandemic.
Here are a few of the priority needs mentioned in the report:
- An investment in rental assistance is needed each month to help households that are behind on rent, and advocates estimate a similar investment for utilities will be needed, too, so people can stay in their homes.
- A need to increase the state’s funding level in the child-care system so that providers aren’t dependent on parents’ ability to pay, while investing in a high-quality learning experience for every child.
- A need to increase the staffing and supports for the N.C. Department of Labor to monitor workplace conditions and enforce health and safety rules, while guaranteeing that every worker in the state has access to paid sick days and paid leave.
- A state-level investment in broadband infrastructure in rural communities would support employment, education, and health goals while also providing direct support to consumers with low incomes to offset the cost of this essential connection, ensuring that access to broadband does not further increase gaps and generate inequities.
“North Carolina has to rebuild better with a focus on removing barriers to opportunities and bolstering our public institutions for the public good. A just recovery for us all demands a bold commitment from our elected leaders at the state level,” said Alexandra F. Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center.
The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Alexandra F. Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director, at 919-861-1468 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mel Umbarger, Budget & Tax Center Senior Communications Specialist, at email@example.com.