North Carolina’s state budget reflects its governmental priorities. Unfortunately, over the past two decades governors and lawmakers have usually chosen to add new programs to the state budget without considering the merits of existing programs and finding ways to fund higher-priority items by eliminating lower priorities. As a result, the budget has grown by leaps and bounds, interrupted only briefly by retrenchment during recessionary periods, including the past three fiscal years. Until state leaders learn to exercise fiscal discipline or to write fiscal discipline into law via a strong expenditure limit the budget problem will worsen.
As House and Senate leaders negotiate a final budget package for FY 2002-03, they should resist the usual temptation to "logroll" — to add in spending items favored by the other side — and instead accept the lower of the two chambers' previously approved figures for every department as well as the higher of the two chambers' previously approved fund transfers. With such "reverse logrolling," lawmakers could balance the state budget without a tax increase.
RALEIGH — Today’s decision by Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade North Carolina’s bond rating revealed the pointlessness of last year’s massive $700 million state tax increase, according to two senior…
At this writing, the N.C. House is considering a revised General Fund budget of $14.3 billion, balanced largely by raising state taxes by $166 million, raiding $255 million from highway funds and $156 million from local governments, and achieving net budget savings of $478 million. Unfortunately, the news for taxpayers is likely to be worse next year, given the use of some $666 million in one-time money for expenses likely to recur — setting the stage for another tax increase.
Gov. Easley's new incentives proposal would put political appointees into the position of doling out special tax breaks that amount to grants of taxpayer money to private businesses. Because of the unpredictable nature of a free-market economy, such a policy cannot claim to boost overall economic growth. A better policy would be to reduce North Carolina sky-high marginal tax rates on personal income, investment, and capital gains - which are among the highest in the country.