North Carolina’s rainy-day fund is at an historic high — about $1.8 billion or 8 percent of the budget. As John Hood details, we rank 14th in the nation, with roughly a month’s worth of funds on hand. And that’s set to grow.  This ensures North Carolina can handle an economic downturn or an emergency of any kind. And we could need it since states may be required to take more of a role in responding to smaller disasters, based on comments from a FEMA executive. 

“FEMA is not a first responder,” Daniel Kaniewski, the agency’s deputy administrator, said in a speech Wednesday at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. “We are going to be very blunt with the American public about what FEMA can and can’t do, about what the federal government can and can’t do, and I hope state and local governments take this forward as well.”

FEMA, can’t, for example, manage and lead emergency response efforts for every single disaster.

“FEMA will continue to fund the recovery for smaller disasters, but increasingly, we will be looking for state and local governments to manage those programs,” Kaniewski said. “I will assert, maybe that’s a high goal. It depends on what state or what community you’re talking about — whether or not they can step up and manage those programs.”

Managing, of course, requires people and money — money that could be needed unexpectedly. Thankfully, North Carolina lawmakers are ensuring we are prepared via North Carolina’s rainy-day fund.