Policymakers in the many local governments of North Carolina face a host of important challenges. This issue guide offers solutions to problems that confront North Carolinians at municipal and county levels. The common thread in these recommendations is freedom. By increasing individual freedom, local governments can foster the prosperity of all North Carolinians and keep open avenues to innovative solutions from enterprising citizens.
The average North Carolina household in every income category received a tax cut from the 2013 tax reform. Considering both 2011 and 2013 tax changes, the average household in both the lowest and highest income categories is receiving a tax cut of about 1 percent of income.
Regardless of how it is measured, state spending is increasing. North Carolina’s total state budget peaked in 2012, reaching more than $51 billion or $5,348 per capita, with federal spending totaling 45 percent of total expenditures.
In 2013, North Carolina implemented fundamental tax reform, with changes to personal and corporate income taxes and sales tax. The plan cuts taxes by about $4.75 billion over five years, assuming the state meets certain revenue triggers and implements the plan fully. The importance of reducing tax revenues is that it transfers resources from political to private sector control, enhancing the overall efficiency of how these resources are used.
General Fund spending totals $20.6 billion for fiscal year 2013-14, only a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year, with Medicaid accounting for the largest increase in spending and tax reform saving taxpayers more than half-a-billion dollars over the two years.
The House and Senate tax bills now under discussion in the General Assembly would constitute fundamental tax reform, but will not prevent state government from funding core public services such as public schools and universities. They will, however, increase job creation and economic growth.
The Reverse Logrolling applied to the current state budget would result in a General Fund budget of $20.6 billion in the first year and $20.8 in the second, leaving surpluses of approximately $590 million in the first year and $940 million in the second year without tax reform adjustments.
Counties and towns are critical levels of government in North Carolina, providing or administering many services while taking in billions of dollars of revenue. This is especially true as the state government has increasingly shifted more taxing authority to localities to make up for money kept by the state. While the importance of county and municipal government is great, obtaining comparative data is difficult. To help address this problem, By The Numbers provides information on how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
For the last 30 years North Carolina has seen spending grow three times faster than population and inflation. The bottom-line spending figure for JLF’s 2013-14 General Fund budget plan is $20.1 billion, $490 million less than the governor’s proposal. In the second year of the two-year budget plan, JLF’s proposal would spend $560 million less than McCrory’s plan. This budget offers 19 specific policy recommendations in K-12 education, early childhood programs, public safety, Medicaid, transportation, and state employee benefits.
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