Last Wednesday, the North Carolina House of Representatives approved a $23 billion state budget that will increase the state’s zero-tax bracket, raises teacher pay, provide disaster relief from Hurricane Matthew, and raise education spending by $700 million, according to a news release from Jamie Boles, House of Representatives, who serves Moore County. However, Governor Cooper announced Monday that he will veto the budget. Cooper offered to sign the budget if the legislature capped the income tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and instead invests that money in education.
The state General Assembly’s final tax relief and spending agreement is consistent with budgets passed since 2011 that produced record savings and revenue surpluses in North Carolina this decade, contrasting a string of tax increases last decade that produced deficits and nearly $2 billion in debt, according to Boles.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) joined Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) in a press conference Thursday urging Gov. Roy Cooper to sign the General Assembly’s bipartisan budget and fulfill his own proposals to provide middle class tax relief and teacher raises.
“When Republicans took over in 2011, the state had about $2 billion in debt,” Speaker Moore said in a press conference Thursday. “Now, we’ve saved a record $1.8 billion in savings reserves. That’s a $4 billion swing from where we were.”
“We’ve made responsible fiscal decisions. When naysayers said the sky would fall and revenues would drop following tax relief, what happened? We had budget surpluses. Now, we have a budget that’s going to cut taxes again.”
“These tax cuts, they help everyone. When we raise the standard deduction, we help those who are working and earning the least. Gov. Cooper should sign this budget and fulfill his own promises to provide teacher pay raises, disaster aid and tax relief to the people of North Carolina.”
Topline comparisons between Gov. Cooper’s budget and the conference budget show the conference budget prioritizes tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of middle class families, education, and economic development, announced Cooper.
Cooper highlighted the legislature’s failure to properly fund education. The legislative budget includes no money to help teachers buy school supplies, nothing for schools to hire additional support personnel, and drains millions of dollars from public education to pay for private school vouchers with no accountability.
In addition, the legislative budget spends significantly less on teacher pay than Governor Cooper’s proposed budget. Governor Cooper’s proposed teacher pay increase would be the largest in a decade and set North Carolina on pace to be at the national average in five years. The GOP budget underfunds Cooper’s teacher pay plan by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a news release from Cooper.