Senate offers a small vision of NC in another austerity budget

This editorial appeared in The News & Observer

The budget offered by the North Carolina Senate’s Republican leaders is uninspired at best and neglectful at worst.

It’s the same old, same old: tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (lowering of state income tax and the already low corporate tax), paltry salary increases for some teachers, no boost for state retirees, $150 million for Hurricane Matthew recovery, which is not enough, and an addition to the state’s already-robust “rainy-day fund.”

This, in a time when the state’s revenue surplus has grown to nearly $600 million.

But gather ’round teachers: Your raises will average 3.7 percent.

Phil Berger, president pro tem of the Senate, offers a lack of leadership and an obsession with tax cutting and recession-era budgets that make sure North Carolina’s horizons will go no higher. In so doing, he and other Republicans underestimate the hopes and dreams of North Carolinians to improve the lives of their children, expand opportunities for all, improve government services and better the state’s educational system.

Governor Roy Cooper’s budget is conservative but still ambitious, and his office notes the Senate budget “would give millionaires a tax cut 60 times larger than middle-class families. Their budget blows a $600 million hole in our budget, which wrecks our ability to invest in education, disaster recovery and other priorities.” That’s as good an analysis as any.