Expressing concern over the ongoing budget negotiations and the size of pay raises NC teachers will receive, NCAE Vice President Mark Jewell had this to say:
“Strong schools are funded through a strong tax base,” he said. “They gave tax breaks for millionaires and corporations. This is why we have this huge hole now. It’s part of the “Hunger Games” that we keep talking about. You have all these programs that are underfunded across the state, all squabbling over the same small amount of money right now. So, it’s a huge concern for us.”
Jewell packs a lot of fallacies into one statement. Here are his statements juxtaposed with reality:
- “They gave tax breaks for millionaires and corporations.” Yes, and for every North Carolina worker, as the income tax rates on all income levels were cut.
- “This is why we have this huge hole now.” Huge hole? Is he referring to the revised revenue forecast projecting $205 million less in state income tax revenue? Out of a $21 billion General Fund budget that comes to just under 1 percent. And that doesn’t take into account the full state budget, which includes federal funds. Moreover, the reason for the ‘shortfall’ is faulty revenue projections, as budget analysts attempted last year to forecast the amount of revenue the state’s tax code will generate for this fiscal year. For the record, a 1 percent ‘shortfall’ will be far smaller than the average shortfall in NC’s state budget over the last 20 years. Indeed, six of the last 20 budgets ended with shortfalls that averaged 6.5 percent. If anything, this year’s projected ‘shortfall’ is miniscule by comparison.
- “You have all these programs that are underfunded across the state.” Underfunded – as compared to what? How much money would it take for big government apologists to say “you know what, we’ve got plenty of the taxpayer’s money, we just aren’t getting the job done”? Of course, for the bureaucrat, no money is ever enough.
- “..squabbling over the same small amount of money right now.” Underfunded, small amount of money? Please. NC’s state budget has been on a decades-long massive expansion. Looking at the General Fund alone we see that state spending – even after adjusting for inflation – has risen at three times the rate of population growth. And that’s just half the story. The total state budget, which includes federal dollars spent by the state, now exceeds $51 billion. It comes to around $5,300 for every man, woman and child – or more than $21,000 for each family of four. Total state spending per person – after adjusting for inflation – is more than two and a half times as high as it was 30 years ago.
The notion that NC state government is somehow “underfunded” is absurd, as demonstrated by simple facts.