State Republicans unveil another lackluster budget
State Republican legislative leaders released their state budget proposal on Tuesday, with measly pay raises for educators and state employees and no mention of Medicaid expansion. The proposed budget also fails to deliver on one of our state’s key constitutional obligations in fully funding our public schools.
The budget increases pay for state employees by 1 percent more than the 2.5 percent originally proposed. In contrast, Governor Roy Cooper recommended a five percent raise for the state’s educators and state employees.
“Considering the enormous surplus and the pressures of inflation, giving meager raises is disrespectful,” stated Ardis Watkins, Executive Director of the State Employees Association of NC.
In spite of state legislators reportedly having more money to spend than they thought they would, the proposed budget also prioritized several controversial measures, including expanding the private school voucher program and giving millions of dollars to hog farmers in a lucrative deal to produce biogas from swine waste – despite criticism from impacted residents and environmental advocates.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize Smithfield’s new profit scheme,” stated Rep. Pricey Harrison. “Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize systems that pollute even more. EPA and USDA have several existing incentive programs for digesters. NC doesn’t need to further subsidize these operations. And finally there is nothing in here that protects communities or the environment from additional pollution.”
In the latest budget, state Republican leaders had the opportunity to rightfully address unprecedented challenges many North Carolinians continue to face.
Yet instead of following Gov. Roy Cooper’s recommendations in investing in our schools, job opportunities, raising wages and Medicaid expansion, state Republican leaders once again pushed forth a budget that protects their party’s interests.