An encouraging run down of the last four years from John Locke Foundation’s Becki Gray:

If we learned one thing during the devastation and recovery from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, it’s that setting aside more than $2 billion in savings for a rainy day was a very good idea. But that $2 billion didn’t just magically appear. It came from hard decisions, focused priorities, bold leadership, and fiscal discipline. Thank goodness we had it.

Beginning in 2011, the General Assembly recognized opportunity for real economic growth was possible if the right decisions were put into place as the state and nation began to recover from the Great Recession. It started with re-thinking our state budget and role of government and an understanding that lower taxes and fewer regulations would encourage business growth, lead to more jobs, and allow people to realize the fruits of their labor and, in turn, provide for themselves and their families. It worked.

State government spending per person, adjusted for inflation since 2011, has been flat, with no increase in the cost of government. Every budget since 2011 has been kept at or below he growth of inflation plus inflation. Medicaid spending — which was the fastest growing segment of state government and 16 percent of the total budget — has been brought under control and is now responsibly managed. A $2.75 billion debt to the federal government for unemployment insurance was paid off.

We’ve gone from a $600 million budget shortfall in 2011 to budget surpluses the past four years.  What have we done with that extra money? We’ve built the state’s savings reserves to the highest level in state history — more than $2 billion. Beginning in 2015, public school teachers have gotten five consecutive pay increases. State employees have had four consecutive pay increases. Just this year, most state employees got a 2 percent pay raise, with a mandated $15 an hour minimum wage. The State Highway Patrol got an 8 percent pay raise, correctional officers received a 4 percent raise, and lawmakers dedicated $15 million for prison security.

Read more here.