Maybe some Republican state senators, enjoying flexing their legislative power, just don’t want to go home. Certainly with the forecasts of the Senate budget to come, a long stay in Raleigh appears likely. And that’s not good news for the people of North Carolina.
The budget passed by the House is no generous document. It would fit most definitions of “conservative,” although it did include research and development tax credits that unfortunately were later eliminated due to pressure from conservatives. And it also included more money for the state’s once-robust incentives program for filmmakers. Alas, that money was reduced, but it would still represent a slight recovery for the program. Without that action, the film industry in North Carolina, which has been a job-creator and boom to on-site economies, would disappear.
Ah, but the Senate, where the sole budget focus has been on more tax cuts, mostly helping the wealthy and big business, may cut the film program and most certainly will look for other cuts in programs that help middle-class and lower-income people. Not that the state has many of those.
All this budget-cutting comes, ironically enough, at a time when the state is rebounding from the recession economy and could likely afford more investment in its university system and in public schools. Both, sadly, have become targets for GOP legislators who don’t put a priority on either. While that may give power-happy Republicans some political satisfaction for the moment, it’s going to do long-term damage to the state.
And it won’t help, either, with recruiting businesses and finding all those new jobs Republicans promised when they took over. Instead, they’ve lagged. And the sorts of modern, high-tech industries with the best-paying jobs aren’t coming to a state that shortchanges its public education system and engages in ideological crusades like the anti-gay marriage campaign.
This may be a long budget struggle, but House leaders should not get worn down. Their budget increase of 6 percent is not just conservative, but too conservative. The Senate’s tighter budget, as forecast anyway, is worse.
It’s time for spending that at least keeps up with growth and inflation rather than more belt-tightening and tax cuts for those who least need the savings.