By now, most of us have come to expect the left-wing bias of the Raleigh News & Observer. Part of that bias includes efforts to promote their chosen narrative by presenting questionable data while ignoring more relevant facts.
Unfortunately, a Tuesday editorial titled “NC Tax Cuts are Taking a Toll” demonstrates the N&O writers hitting yet another new low.
In an effort to join the chorus from left-wing advocacy groups and special interests promoting the narrative that the 2013 tax cuts are somehow starving state government of funds and that government has been “cut to the bone,” the N&O trots out some easily demonstrable falsehoods, and in the end reveals the extreme nature of its ideology.
To begin, the article mentions that “tax revenue flowing into the state is running about $190 million below projections” (emphasis added) for the current fiscal year that began July 1. True enough. But later in the article, the writers claim the “cause of the shortfall is a tax overhaul that took effect last January.”
The nature of the shortfall, as the article itself alludes to, is a discrepancy between the revenue projections made at the beginning of the fiscal year and actual revenue collected to date.
State budget “shortfalls” and “surpluses” in reality just reflect the inaccuracy of revenue projections. Granted, these projections were made more difficult because the tax reform made significant changes to the tax code, but previous state revenue shortfalls and surpluses have often times been far more significant than the one shaping up this year.
This shortfall is “worrisome” according to the N&O because “state spending already is at a spartan level,” with “no slack” in the budget to make additional cuts.
Give me a break.
North Carolina’s state budget has skyrocketed over the last few decades. The state’s General Fund budget in 1985 was $4.5 billion, compared to $21 billion this year – a nearly five-fold increase. During that time, the state’s population grew by 63 percent, so the rapid spending rise can’t be attributed to population growth.
Indeed, even after adjusting for inflation, per capita spending from the state budget has increased 62 percent in the last 30 years. In other words, the state budget now spends nearly two-thirds more per person in real terms that it did three decades ago. That is hardly a “spartan” level.
Other budgetary claims also fly in the face of reality. Claims that North Carolina is “tightening its belt” and is “cutting revenue” are simply false.
The state budget has grown for three straight years after dipping due to the national recession, up $1.3 billion since 2012. And with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars still being doled out for corporate welfare and leisure activities such as the state zoo, museums, aquariums, the symphony, folklife documentaries and public television, one is hard-pressed to sincerely believe there is “no slack” in the state budget for spending cuts.
The N&O continues its false narrative by spotlighting education funding, claiming “local schools systems are coping with reductions in state funding,” and the UNC system “has been repeatedly cut.”
The 2014-15 budget authorizes $2.63 billion in state funds for the UNC system, up from $2.60 billion last year. Public schools are budgeted to receive $8.1 billion in state funds, up from $7.9 billion last year. Moreover, state appropriations for both institutions have roughly increased by a robust 50 percent since 2000.
In spite of the N&O’s complete disregard for factual data, easily the most troublesome passage is one that reveals the editors’ ideology. “It’s one thing to be frugal about government budgets,” the article says, “It’s another to give money away in tax cuts when the state is falling short of meeting its needs.” (Emphasis added.)
Tax cuts “give money away?”
The only conclusion one can draw from this statement is that the N&O believes that all money belongs to the government, and that any money the government allows you to keep involves the state generously gifting their property to you. In short, the government owns you and everything you have.
Desperation reveals the true character of people. The N&O’s desperation to advance its left-wing, statist narrative reveals that the N&O editorial board not only will twist facts for their cause, but their cause includes an all-powerful, all-encompassing ruling class.