by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
Yesterday Appropriations Chair Nelson Dollar announced that the Appropriation Subcommittees would introduce their budgets next Tuesday and Weds with a full Appropriation Committee review. Full House debate will begin Thursday at noon with the first vote later Thursday and the second early Friday morning.
As House leaders are working through numbers, priorities and arithmetic, I’d like to offer a few suggestions:
1. Smaller government at less cost. Spend as little as necessary to get the job done. Spend less; spend smart.
2. The governor’s proposal is 1.7% larger than the last fiscal year budget while the Senate proposal is 2.6% larger. Population and inflation numbers are not available for fiscal year 2014-15 but it is likely that 1.7% and 2.6% would fall within TABOR spending restrictions – a good direction. Going much higher likely would exceed a TABOR provision.
3. Put as much as possible into building up reserves; rainy day, repair and renovation, IT and Medicaid.
4. An 8.5% pay increase for teachers would be the largest in 25 years, largest in a generation.
5.Offering smaller across the board raises for all teachers and allocating larger performance bonuses of $750 to $1,000 to the best teachers. It would be preferable to offer larger bonuses to the top 25% than less to the top 35% or 45%. Pay our best teachers a lot more, not a lot of teachers a little more. Incentivize excellence.
6.Transfer $60M from the lottery and add $30M to the Teacher Assistant Scholarship Fund and $30M to funding for textbooks.
7. Adopt Gov McCrory’s pilot program for hard to staff teaching positions. NC Education schools produced 5 physics teachers last year – 5!
8. Enact reality-based budgeting. Eliminate all unfilled positions.
9. Repeal Certificate of Needs Laws. Hospitals charge twice what ambulatory surgical centers charge, according to recent documents on Medicaid expenses.
10. Move mental health services to regional community centers, such as the Crisis Solution Initiative proposed by the Governor.
11. Repeal the Local Development Act of 1925 that authorizes local government entities to harm economic growth by pursuing economic development policies using property tax collections to subsidize favored businesses.
12. Allow all tax credits and special breaks to sunset as scheduled or repeal them. Don’t undo all the good work on tax reform. It’s starting to work. Don’t unravel it. Low taxes = economic growth.
Lat year North Carolina’s spending exceeded $20 Billion and when you factor in federal money – it’s over $50 Billion. That’s a Bunch of money. What would you suggest for those writing this year’s budget?