Editorial: Mediocrity is nothing to cheer about

Posted October 14, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT

The entrance to the North Carolina Legislative building in downtown Raleigh where the NC General Assembly meets. Photo taken August 17, 2018.

CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020; Editorial #8598
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

The leaders of the General Assembly are crowing that North Carolina is in better financial shape than New York City and want to be praised for their stewardship of state revenues and fiscal management.  Say what?  Maybe a “Bronx cheer” would be more like it.

In the last 10 years the General Assembly under-invested in the state’s education, infrastructure, health care and public safety. As these most basic needs were given short-shrift, corporations were lavished with imprudent tax cuts.

Good financial managers would not tolerate the following:

  • A recent national survey ranked the state 44th in school finance and within that assessment, received an “F,” ranking 48th across key education budget areas – per-pupil spending (adjusted for regional cost differences); share of students in school districts with per-student spending at or above the national average and share of total taxable resources devoted to education.
  • Unemployment benefits in North Carolina remain among the stingiest in the nation.
  • Failure to properly fund our prison system has left many prisons understaffed and ill-equipped. As a result they’ve jeopardized the safety, health and security of those who work in our prisons as well as those incarcerated.
  • Refusal to expand Medicaid to 650,000 citizens who cannot afford health care amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Neglect of infrastructure needs along with critical renovations and new construction for local schools and universities by failing to pass bond issues, particularly when costs of borrowing are at historic lows.

It is a legacy of mediocrity and neglect -- not a record of stability, responsibility, achievement or commitment to excellence.

Over the last 10 years, had responsible financial managers overseen the state’s budget, there was plenty of room for making additional investments in education and infrastructure and other basic needs while still establishing an adequately-funded rainy day fund and EVEN provide for affordable and reasonable tax cuts for ALL taxpayers.

Rather than begging for undeserved praise while demeaning those who don’t agree, it is time for a legislature that seeks to meet the needs for the entire state and is committed to excellence.

How about having legislative leaders whose priorities are about:

  • Helping workers who have lost their jobs by upgrading the state’s unemployment system so benefits match those enjoyed by workers in most other states.
  • Helping families who need health coverage and don’t have it by expanding Medicaid to the 650,000 citizens who are now denied it.
  • Helping ALL North Carolina students have access to a quality education – as guaranteed by the State Constitution – by adopting and funding the Leandro settlement as approved by Judge David Lee.

North Carolinians are heading to the poll and making choices about who represents them in the legislature.

The choices are clear: Keeping legislative leaders who demand praise but don’t earn it, OR electing a legislature that does the hard work to support the state’s fundamental needs and aim for excellence.

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