K-12 public school districts in North Carolina have received about $6 billion in federal funds to help address the coronavirus pandemic. On average, since last March, school districts have spent about 11% of funds appropriated for Covid relief. The low level of expenditures raise legitimate questions about the nature of the emergency and how federal dollars are spent.
Despite weak opposition to the Senate tax plan, tax cuts benefit more than just the one with the reduced legal tax liability. Low- and median-income households receive a much larger benefit from the Senate’s rate cuts.
The Senate budget plan would address current education spending needs, increase salaries for teachers and education personnel and offer bonuses, and increase all steps of base teacher salaries. It would also expand eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships, raise the value of the scholarships, and increase the annual payment to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. These are steps in the right direction, but the budget needs to be more responsive to parents seeking additional educational options and other ways to redress the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the education of our children.
Recent revenue reports project overcollections in the current fiscal year of $6 billion. This added windfall provides many options to budget writers. The Senate budget plan focuses on tax cuts and significant investments in pay-as-you-go infrastructure projects.
So far this year, Gov. Cooper has pledged over $930.7 million in tax incentives to just 22 corporations, including $845.8 million over four decades to Apple. At the same time, Cooper opposes cutting taxes across the board on the state's corporations and small businesses. Most of the businesses that would benefit from across-the-board income tax cuts are local employers with fewer than 100 people.
North Carolina public schools will receive over $6 billion in funding to address the academic, emotional, and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Such levels of funding present high-risk and high-opportunity options for schools. Schools can ensure these funds are well spent by developing plans that are transparent, are strategic, discuss relevant trade-offs, encourage flexibility, and understand the implications of their choices.
Under the growing threat of a coronavirus combined with the government-imposed economic shutdown, Congress approved $6 billion in Covid-19 relief funds for K-12 public schools in North Carolina. A recovering economy has taken the worst-case scenarios off the table and resulted in more aid for K-12 schools than at any time in recent history. These dollars should be returned to taxpayers; otherwise, state leaders should take proper steps to ensure they are spent wisely and accomplish intended purposes.
Eliminating the state corporate income tax would enable a more fair tax climate for businesses. Research shows that workers are most harmed by the corporate tax. Corporate tax elimination, combined with reducing or eliminating crony handouts, would strike a major blow against corruption.
The Senate tax plan would continue to build upon the past decade of successful tax reforms. Critics say corporate tax elimination only benefits “wealthy corporations.” Research shows, however, that workers are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate tax cuts.
State government prioritized spending federal Covid money over knowing that the money is accomplishing a goal. Cooper and legislators have time to make future expenditures more accountable. With $13.6 billion in federal funds still available and the worst of the pandemic behind us, the best course is to return the money.
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