Editorials

Adding to NC’s already bloated ‘rainy day fund’ is costly frugality

Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Cary) wants to require the General Assembly to add to the state’s rainy day fund every year regardless of the fund’s balance or the state’s other needs.
Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Cary) wants to require the General Assembly to add to the state’s rainy day fund every year regardless of the fund’s balance or the state’s other needs. cseward@newsobserver.com

Of all the ways they could spend their time these days, the least productive may be a proposal that’s little more than showboating on the part of North Carolina lawmakers to require a certain amount of money be put in the state’s rainy day fund every year. And, two Republicans, Nelson Dollar of Cary and Brent Jackson of Sampson County, also would limit legislators from spending more than a set amount from the fund, and to get an exception to that — say in the case of a revenue shortfall or a natural disaster — there would have to be two-thirds agreement in both houses.

This is ridiculous, and little more than a gimmick for some lawmakers to run on, demonstrating presumably their great responsibility in handling public money.

What are they? Fifteen-year-old kids with summer jobs whose parents require them to put aside a set amount from their paychecks so they don’t spend it all? Good grief. Legislators ought to be able to handle the budget in a responsible way, and the idea that they have to build up a huge rainy day fund — it’s roughly $1.5 billion — to deal with a crisis is wrong. If a crisis comes, the General Assembly can convene and appropriate the needed money. Period.

And instead of sitting in a rainy day fund, lawmakers could spend more money on the needs, the every day needs of citizens who are jobless, hungry, sick or in other forms of distress. And that’s what they should be doing. It’s fine to have a rainy day fund, but it’s not necessary to build up millions more as if North Carolina was preparing to crash in to the sun.

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