Labeling conservative lawmakers' fiscal priorities as a harbinger of "generational damage ," North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the Republican-dominated Legislature's $19.7 billion budget proposal this past week. The Governor became the first in state history to veto a budget bill, finding that the Legislature's proposal "ignores the values of North Carolina’s people ."
Right-wing state legislators, deciding against extending a temporary one cent sales tax, opted for heinous cuts to several important areas, most notably, health care and K-12 and higher education. Assessing the potential economic impact of such extensive and damaging reductions to essential public programs, the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center concludes  that the budget would have extremely deleterious repercussions on the state's economic well-being and prospects for recovery. So much so, that the cuts would lead to  the loss of 32,022 jobs, $1.3 billion in lost wages for workers, and $2.8 billion in foregone industry output.
Progressive organizations have lauded the Governor for her efforts to stand up for education and sound fiscal and economic choices. Together NC , a coalition of over 120 non-profits, service providers, and professional organizations, that has been instrumental in advocating for shared prosperity and investments in public structures, released a statement , "In her veto announcement, Gov. Perdue was correct on two crucial points. First, the most devastating cuts could have been avoided simply by maintaining the penny sales tax. Simply preserving the revenue we have would make a huge difference to schools, health systems, and public safety in North Carolina. Second, Gov. Perdue is correct that the budget she favors would be better-suited to protect schools than the legislative budget she has vetoed today. Gov Perdue is to be applauded for standing up for teachers, firefighters, and health care workers."
Not only does the austere budget proposal represent flawed fiscal policy, it also has proven to be very unpopular with the public. Public Policy Polling recently conducted asurvey that indicated that only 23 percent of North Carolina voters supported the budget, with 41 percent opposed. The polling firm finds that the severe education cuts are the primary contributor to voters’ opposition to the plan. In fact, when asked, "what do you think is more important: ending the temporary one cent sales tax increase or minimizing cuts to education spending?" 50 percent  of respondents approved of maintaining support for education. This mirrors recent polls and developments  across the country that indicate voter support of revenue solutions to fund essential services and protect the interests of the middle class and working families.
Unfortunately, the state Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto in a contentious vote early Wednesday. Gov. Perdue responded , “[t]onight, the Republican-controlled legislature turned its back on North Carolina's long-standing commitment to our people to provide quality schools, community colleges and universities.”
As the Progressive States Network has documented in the past , during an economic downturn, progressive revenue generation is far preferable to deep cuts, as it allows states to provide funding for public structures, support the jobs of teachers, nurses, and firefighters, pump money into the economy, and protect middle class families, children, and the elderly.
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