by Brittany Raymer
Former Digital Writer & Editor
This year the John Locke Foundation has been honored as one of the finalists for the State Policy Network’s (SPN) Bob Williams Award for Outstanding Policy Achievement. The category is Biggest State Win.
When it comes to passing a budget, that can sometimes be a difficult if not impossible task in a state like North Carolina, where Republicans hold the legislature and Democrats the governor’s mansion. For three years, Gov. Roy Cooper has blocked nearly every budget put before him—but by working with various legislators, Locke was able to help foster a budget that avoids some pork and helps the people of the Tar Heel State.
It was called the First in Freedom Budget, a watershed fiscal regimen that paved the way for measurable, consequential gains in the quality of life for millions of North Carolinians. This policy achievement has made Locke a finalist for the SPN Bob Williams Award for Biggest State Win, which “recognizes the organization that achieved a significant policy win in their home state.”
The budget included a reduction of the flat personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 3.99%; an increase in the standard tax deduction; the phasing out of state corporate income tax by 2029; proposed no new debt; gave state employees a 5% raise and teachers the same over a two-year period; and held the line against Medicaid expansion.
The John Locke Foundation was integral to these policy discussions by equipping lawmakers with the tools they needed to make critical decisions resulting in wiser and more effective spending.
These changes also resulted in CNBC recently naming North Carolina America’s Top State for Business. It did this in part because “state leaders keep managing to put aside their very deep political divisions to boost business and the economy.”
The budget also blocked some of Gov. Cooper’s more dangerous proposals, which he admitted to as much in his statement after signing it in November .
He said: “This budget moves North Carolina forward in important ways. Funding for high-speed internet, our universities and community colleges, clean air and drinking water, and desperately needed pay increases for teachers and state employees are all critical for our state to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever. I will continue to fight for progress where this budget falls short but believe that, on balance, it is an important step in the right direction.”
From research to government affairs, communications and The Carolina Journal, the entire John Locke Foundation team committed themselves to seeing this hallmark First in Freedom Budget across the finish line—and it did, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over.
As America heads toward an uncertain financial future, especially as the Fed once again raises the interest rates by 0.75%, the country needs state governments to be beacons of stability. Through the efforts of the John Locke Foundation and others, North Carolina’s First in Freedom Budget can help it weather the economic storm—and that includes a new budget that is being debated right now.
To learn more about the latest about North Carolina’s budget, click here.