North Carolinians Are Struggling
When our state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the U.S., many residents are just getting by, not focused on the harmful cuts being considered.
The North Carolina Budget is held hostage by a plethora of unrelated legislation. The latest distraction is an anti-Shariah law wrapped in abortion restrictions. Distractions came earlier in the session via tax cuts posing as tax reform, takeovers of large municipal assets, public school vouchers and limitations on access to voting.
The fiscal year began July 1. North Carolina is operating under a continuing resolution while Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate fight out differences on the budget, tax “reform” and abortion restrictions. At this point, the public can only speculate about cuts to our highly ranked universities, our excellent public education system, our successful rural economic development programs and our efficient state departments.
Observers of the legislative process will not be shocked when the budget emerges with cuts to public education, along with new private school vouchers and the expansion of a separate system of charter schools. They will not be shocked by cuts to higher education. Earlier skirmishes focused on proposals to close some universities in the state system.
The general public is facing a daily assault of negative coverage in the national and state news media. It is impossible to escape the negativity of politics in Raleigh. Even so, average North Carolinians have had little time to focus on the state budget and the effects of cuts. They have more pressing concerns in their daily lives.
The state struggles with the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the U.S., especially in rural areas, contrasted with growth in and around cities. Republicans, elected in 2010 and 2012 after promising to create jobs, have spent little time on the topic. North Carolinians will need more time to sift through this session’s clutter of legislation, before citizens can pay attention to the state operating budget – and its ramifications.