With GOP leadership telling their caucus to expect budget votes this week, Republican lawmakers are once again trying to ram through a budget which does not address the concerns of hard-working North Carolina families or our valued educators. Instead of expanding Medicaid and investing in our schools and our students, the politicians are trying to give even more of their misguided tax cuts to big corporations and the ultra-wealthy.
- The politicians say they can’t afford to give educators a raise for the entire school year, and they can’t afford to expand Medicaid for low income families. But somehow they DO have enough money to cut taxes on Big Tobacco, NASCAR, and even on jet fuel for private jet owners.
- Adjusted for inflation and enrollment growth, public school funding in North Carolina is still well below pre-recession levels — and this budget does very little to change that. Politicians in Raleigh are forcing public schools into a permanent recession so they can give yet another tax cut to the top 1%.
- When you adjust for inflation, many teachers are making less than they would have 10 years ago at the same experience level. But the GOP budget gives raises that are significantly lower than what Gov. Cooper proposed, and what tens of thousands of teachers marched in Raleigh for on May 1.
- Funding for classroom materials is still 42% below what it was 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation. But the GOP budget gives hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy, on top of the $3.6 billion lawmakers have already handed out since 2013.
- Medicaid expansion means healthy people and a healthy economy, and would help half a million North Carolinians get access to affordable healthcare. More than 500,000 working North Carolinians are one major illness or injury away from bankruptcy. Expanding Medicaid could give these families the support they need.
- Medicaid expansion would provide care for up to 150,000 people with behavioral health needs, and up to 23,000 North Carolina veterans.
- Covering the insured has the potential to lower everyone’s health care costs. We have seen this play out in other states that have expanded Medicaid, where insurance premiums are seven percent lower on average.
- Expanding Medicaid and closing the coverage gap is good for business, especially rural businesses. Closing the gap in North Carolina would create an estimated 43,000 jobs in the first five years; and an estimated $4 billion in economic impact to our state’s economy on an annual basis.
- Many of these jobs would go to the state’s 44 rural counties, where the local hospital is one of the five biggest employers. These are not just health care jobs. These are construction jobs, retail, food service and other industries that stand to benefit from the increased activity in their communities.
- Some state lawmakers claim there is not enough revenue to expand Medicaid. But they keep shoveling tax-cuts to the corporations and special interests. Even this year, the state Senate passed another round of corporate tax cuts that will cut $800M over the next five years. Those include special interest tax cuts for jet fuel, NASCAR, and even Big Tobacco.
The GOP budget does not value public schools, and does nothing for hard-working North Carolina families who can’t afford health care. Instead of giving more tax cuts to the top 1%, lawmakers should pass a budget that restores education funding to pre-recession levels and expands Medicaid for low-income families.