by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Making her weekly appearance on WUNC’s “The Politics Podcast” hosted by Jeff Tiberii, Locke’s Becki Gray offers sound perspective on Gov. Roy Cooper’s behemoth budget proposal, a spending plan that Rob Schofield of N.C. Policy Watch says isn’t big enough. In the excerpt below, Becki begins by responding to Tiberii asking if the budget plan is more of a policy proposal or a political document.
Becki has lots more to say about election integrity and gun control as she spars with Schofield. Be sure to listen to the full 20-minute WUNC “The Politics Podcast,” which Becki joins every week.
Now back to Gov. Cooper’s massive spending plan. Here’s more Locke analysis on the overall picture.
Cooper would spend $2.8 billion more in 2021-22 than the state budgeted for this year. “That’s an 11.6% increase,” said Joseph Coletti, Locke senior fellow in fiscal studies. “That is 9.3% ($2.2 billion) more than the rate of inflation and population growth for the year. It is also 4.9% ($1.2 billion) more than the level needed to place state appropriations back on the path state government faced before Gov. Cooper stalled spending increases with his budget vetoes two years ago.”
In addition to the huge increase in spending noted above, and the unnecessary borrowing Becki Gray discussed on the WUNC podcast, here are two additional big reasons to be concerned with Cooper’s budget plan.
Ill-Advised Medicaid Expansion: Rather than removing barriers and increasing options for affordable health insurance and care, Gov. Cooper wants to add 600,000 North Carolinians to the government insurance plan meant to be a safety net for the most fragile and vulnerable. Cooper estimates the cost at $500 million, which Locke analysts believe is low, since that assumes hospitals will cover the gap in the long term, something they have been reluctant to do in the past.
Inexplicably Targets Poor Kids: Despite an $804 million increase in education spending over the next two years, Gov. Cooper wants to eliminate the popular education scholarship program for poor kids, which enrolls almost 16,000 students. Here is Cooper’s budget:
Locke analysis will have much more to say in the coming days, as will Becki Gray each week on WUNC’s “The Politics Podcast.”