May 13, 2017


The Senate passed its budget under cover of darkness at the end of the week. Democrats, led by Durham’s Mike Woodard, held the floor for about a half hour Thursday evening, as senators took turns rising to ask Woodard scripted questions about the budget. When session resumed at 12:05 a.m. for the third and final reading of the budget bill, Democrats were ready with several amendments illuminating the budget’s deficiencies, all of which were tabled. At about 1:00, sick of what one GOP senator called a “filibuster,” Republicans decided to go into recess until 2:30 to caucus, and the final vote to pass the budget (32-15) was taken shortly after 3:00 a.m. Thursday night...er, Friday morning.

The budget was released after 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night, and committee hearings began early the next morning. Except leadership who helped develop its line items, most senators and citizens alike had little time to digest the over 800-page budget until it reached the floor less than 48 hours after it was introduced. Little-known facets will continue to come to light as the document makes its way to the House, which will produce its own version soon. Luckily, the rumored timeline for House debate will give the public at least a little more time for input.

The Senate’s budget short-changes our state’s core needs, and General Assembly staff have said it will blow a $600 million hole in future budgets. When that happens, if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, you can bet Republicans will argue for an even larger dose of their poison prescription: drastic cuts and regressive sales tax hikes.

This is all thanks to an unnecessary $3 billion income tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations. Under this budget, millionaires will get a tax cut 60 times larger than that for middle-class families. But this is sadly nothing new for Republicans. Since 2012, a person making $1 million or more has saved more in taxes each year ($42,652) than the current salary of a teacher with 13 years of experience. NC Policy Watch had a great piece on what we could do with the $3 billion in revenue the GOP has thrown away.

Last week we told you Democrats would be looking for Gov. Cooper’s priorities in the Senate budget. Well—surprise, surprise—there was little common ground to be found. The governor’s office put together a handy side-by-side chart comparing the governor’s budget proposal with the Senate’s. They also released a chart comparing the teacher pay raises in the two proposals:

Needless to say, the governor’s document invests far more in our people without raising taxes. In fact, it lowers taxes for working families by reintroducing the child care tax credit.