Editorial: Legislators can declare Cooper's budget 'DOA', but it RESPECTS N.C. needs

Posted May 16, 2018 5:00 a.m. EDT

Gov. Roy Cooper discusses his 2018-19 budget proposal. (Photo from the office of the governor)

CBC Editorial: Wednesday, May 16, 2018; Editorial # 8301
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

North Carolina’s legislative leaders pronounced Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget D-O-A.

It would have been a bit more appropriate, even polite, if the diagnosis came AFTER he’d proposed it.

Before the budget is relegated to the recycling bin, state Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and their lieutenants should enlighten themselves and give the budget a look. They might even consider joining Cooper to show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the many North Carolinians and issues they’ve neglected for the last seven years while lavishing the state’s corporations with excessive tax breaks.

Legislators would go a long way toward appropriately honoring North Carolina’s education, health, public safety, rural communities, growing businesses and working families, by adopting the priorities that Cooper laid out last week.

Cooper’s budget, while not perfect, importantly shows R-E-S-P-E-C-T for:

  • North Carolina’s future: The governor’s pledged to make North Carolina a top 10 Educated State by 2025. He’d increase public education spending by $1.1 billion -- including improve school facilities, school safety and instructional resources; increase enrollment in pre-k, provide more in-school health and mental health resources; and 8 percent pay increases for principals, teachers and other school personnel.
  • North Carolina communities: $2 billion bond issue to help local schools build new and renovate aging school facilities.
  • Working families: $320 million in middle class tax relief and NO tax increases; create NC GROW “Getting ready for Opportunities in the Workforce.”
  • Citizens who need health care: Rescind the legislature’s ban on expansion of Medicaid to 670,000 North Carolinians who now lack health insurance. It would inject $4 billion in federal funds into the state’s economy; provide greater support for community mental health programs and fight the opioid epidemic.
  • Rural Communities: Promote the expansion of broadband internet in under-served areas to help entrepreneurs, economic development and education; invest in rural infrastructure and Main Street community improvements.
  • Public safety workers and secure prisons: Invest $28 million in needed workplace safety improvements to states prisons; provide $31 million to improve prison-worker pay.
  • North Carolina’s public servants: Provide $366 million to give all state workers a $1,250 (or 2 percent) cost of living pay adjustment and other pay enhancements for those in public safety or hard-to-fill, high-skilled positions.
  • Businesses who pay their fair share: Repeals unnecessary corporate and business tax cuts set to go into effect in July 2018.

Every year there are about 110,000 more people living in North Carolina – the entire population of the city of High Point. They require a variety of state services from roads to get to jobs, schools to educate kids and parks to enjoy their spare time.

These needs have been neglected for too long.

Thousands of visitors will be in Raleigh today to let legislators know their old agenda: too-deep tax cuts; disdain for public service; neglect of public education and disregard for basic functions of government has gone on long enough.

North Carolina public school educators from across the state are asking for the respect they’ve earned. Cooper’s budget offers a clear and positive answer.

Instead of dismissing and disregarding the visitors as ungrateful “thugs,” legislators would do well to welcome the thousands visitors with courtesy as fellow citizens.

Invite them into legislative offices and ask them what they think North Carolina needs.

What they’re likely to hear will more closely resemble the respectful budget Roy Cooper’s proposed than the paternalistic and inadequate programs that emanate from the secretive back-rooms of the legislature.

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