– From the office of Rep. Raymond E. Smith, Jr. –
North Carolina has not had a State Budget since the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The consequence of this failure of leadership has been lost opportunities to invest in public education and other public services. This week the General Assembly passed a State Budget and Governor Cooper has signed it into law. Rep. Raymond Smith from Goldsboro says it is a State Budget with good and bad in it. Smith says, sadly, it also does not include Medicaid Expansion costing the state billions of dollars in federal funding, thousands of health care jobs, lower health care costs for those with health insurance, and, most importantly, people will die or lead less healthy lives because of lack of health care access.
Good Things in the State Budget:
- $1 billion for broadband expansion across North Carolina.
- A 5% pay raise for most state employees.•An average 5% pay raise for teachers over the biennium.
- Provides a 2% bonus to retirees this fiscal year and 3% next fiscal year.
- Increase the minimum wage for all non-certified personnel and community college staff to$15 per hour.
- A $2,800 bonus to most teachers using American Rescue Plan federal funds.
- Bonuses for all state employees using American Rescue Plan federal funds.
- $1,500 for state employees earning less than $75,000 and for law enforcement, correctional officers, and 24-hour residential or treatment facility employees.
- $1,000 for state employees earning more than $75,000.
- $100 million for a new state-funded teacher salary supplement for 95 counties to boost teacher pay.
- Increases child tax deduction by $500 per child.
- Increases to $25,500 the tax bracket of people who would not pay state income taxes.
- Major investments in our universities, particularly are historically under-funded HBCUs
- Eliminates state tax on military pensions.
Bad Things in the State Budget:
- More tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest North Carolinians.
- The elimination of corporate income tax.
- Does not fully fund our schools to comply with every North Carolina child’s right to a sound, basic education (Leandro decision).
- Expansion of school voucher programs diverting more tax dollars away from our local public schools.
- The 5% teacher pay raise is not uniform, meaning some teachers will receive very little increase at all.
- Funding for so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that give women inaccurate information about their reproductive health care.
- Law changes that have nothing to do with the Budget, but instead seek to transfer power from elected Democrats Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein to elected Republican leaders.
- Law changes that have nothing to do with the Budget, but transfer power to special interests like billboard companies at the expense of local towns and cities.
- Five heavily Democratic counties were left out of the $100 million teacher supplement bonuses: Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Durham, and Buncombe.
Rep. Smith said, “After carefully weighing the good and the bad, I voted Yes on this budget. While far from perfect, it is a bipartisan budget that provides critical relief for families and businesses. Governor Cooper and Democrats forced legislative Republicans to increase their investments in teacher and state employee pay, critical infrastructure and aid to help families and businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. Our next step must be to continue to fight for Medicaid expansion, education funding, and other issues where the State Budget fell short.”