A pretty good state budget

Posted 7/6/22

North Carolina is on the verge of having a new $27.9 million state budget, and there is much to like about it.

Among the highlights:

Teachers will receive a 4.2-percent average increase in …

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A pretty good state budget

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North Carolina is on the verge of having a new $27.9 million state budget, and there is much to like about it.

Among the highlights:

  • Teachers will receive a 4.2-percent average increase in fiscal year ’22-’23 and will receive a total 9.1 percent raise over the biennium.
  • School employees will receive the greater of 4 percent or an increase to $15 an hour.
  • State agency employees will receive a 3.5-percent increase.
  • State retirees will receive an additional 1-percent one-time retiree supplement (4 percent over the biennium).
  • School safety grants of $32 million for safety equipment, students in crisis, and safety training.
  • Mental health programs will see $14.8 million in new funding.
  • Water and sewer projects will get a $600 million boost (or $2.5 billion over the biennium).

“This is a responsible budget that responds to our current needs and plans for an uncertain economic future,” said Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in a joint statement. “This budget takes into account the strain of runaway spending from our federal government that is stretching North Carolinians’ budgets thin, and the burden of skyrocketing fuel prices and inflation."

The effort to approve the budget was broadly bipartisan. About half the Democrats in the General Assembly joined the Republican majority to give the budget veto-proof supermajorities in both the House and the Senate.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Gov. Roy Cooper has not yet decided if he’ll add his signature.

Of course, no state budget is ever perfect, but a product of compromise. One spending item that survived the process is $876 in additional funding for economic development, which sounds like something good.

In reality, such economic development spending too often translates to corporate welfare used to bribe companies into coming to our state.

To their credit, our state’s fiscally conservative lawmakers over the last decade have helped create a Tar Heel business climate that has attracted lots of new companies. So we really don’t need the special tax breaks and handouts that other states use out of desperation.

There are those who don’t like the budget; mainly those who want taxpayers to pay even more.

WRAL-TV (actually, its parent company, Capital Broadcasting) which has come to take consistently liberal editorial stances, wrote that the budget demonstrates lawmakers’ “remarkable neglect of the needs of North Carolina’s people.”

But with inflation growing and a recession looming, now is not the time to hike spending.

Lawmakers of both parties deserve an attaboy for passing a pretty good budget.

— Bart Adams

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