North Carolina remains without a State Budget. Four months ago Gov. Cooper and legislative Democrats offered a counter proposal to legislative leaders but they have simply rejected it and refused to negotiate further.
Legislative leaders have now moved “mini-budget” bills through the General Assembly. Some of these bills are non-controversial and have passed into law with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, others continue the policy of advancing corporate tax cuts rather than investing in teacher and public employee compensation.
To add insult to injury, the House and Senate adjourned on Thursday without a state budget in place and won’t return to the legislature until Nov. 13. Even then, legislative leadership is limiting the bills we will be able to consider. For this body to adjourn four months into the fiscal year without a budget in place is unconscionable. It means that the General Assembly is failing at its most fundamental job.
Here are a few of the important bills that legislative leaders put forward in the last two weeks:
Corporate Tax Cuts
North Carolina has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country. SB 578
lowers the franchise tax paid by corporations and mostly helps the largest corporations. It reduces revenue over the next four years by more than $1 billion. The bill passed the NC Senate and the NC House and has now gone to the governor’s desk for consideration. North Carolina should be using that money to bolster the state’s educational system, not give tax cuts to wealthy corporations that don’t need them.
is the Republican teacher pay bill. It funds the “step increases” that teachers are already entitled to by law, but invests no money in teacher pay raises. It also offers no money for pay raises for public school employees like custodians and nurses. Our budget counter proposal does not provide more corporate tax cuts and allows us to offer 5% raises for school employees and average teacher raises of 8.5% over the next two years.
The bill passed the NC Senate and the House and is now on the governor’s desk.
Retiree COLA, Community College, and UNC Employees
is the pay bill for UNC and community college employees, and the bill provides a 0.5 % (that’s only one-half of one percent) one-time COLA for state retirees. Our counter proposal would double the COLA to 1% each year. It would provide 5% raises for UNC employees and 4% for community college employees – both double what the Republican plan offers. The bill passed both houses of the General Assembly and is on the governor’s desk for consideration.
This piecemeal approach to the budget is wrong-headed and not in the best interests of the State of North Carolina. As I have said since early July, legislative leaders should sit down with the Governor and work out a comprehensive budget. The Governor has repeatedly offered to negotiate, but legislative leaders have refused.