Ad Spot

May 15, 2021

Editorial: The birth of a budget

The emergence of the new state budget might be likened to the birth of a baby elephant ó a long wait, a lot of noisy labor, a desperate final push and, finally, a clumsy, wrinkled progeny that only a mother could hold dear.
We’d note one major difference, however. Baby elephants carry the same heft from generation to generation. The state budget tends to get more bloated with each successive edition. (Special interests and entrenched political power have that effect.)
This year, legislators and the governor vowed that wouldn’t be the case ó couldn’t be the case, given the economic environment ó and we’ve been subjected to months of warnings and pre-emptory laments about how painful the upcoming cuts to important programs would be.
Make no mistake, agencies across the board are feeling the pain accompanying this budget. Local school districts here and across the state will have to figure out how to implement a $225 million cut in funding for grades 4-12. Another $48 million will be carved out by delaying some textbook purchases. Yet another $38 million comes through eliminating funding earmarked to help boost the test scores of poorly performing students. That means officials in the Rowan-Salisbury system will face more hard decisions in the coming weeks.
Rowan-Cabarrus and other community colleges face $14 million in cuts.
Local mental health, substance abuse and physical disability service providers will have $40 million less. In addition, 350 positions will be eliminated within related health and human services divisions.
The Clean Water Management Trust Fund will see a $50 million cut in each of the next two years.
Those are sizable cuts, with significant impact that will be felt across communities like ours. … And yet, for all the posturing and posing, for all the handwringing, the notion that this is a severely spartan budget just isn’t so, as will no doubt come to light in the following days and weeks as more details emerge. The budget also includes almost a $1 billion tax increase that will come through a 1-cent sales tax hike, surcharges on corporate and some individual incomes and higher levies on booze and cigarettes. Although it’s officially billed as a $19 billion budget, that depends on what you’re counting. If you kick in North Carolina’s $1.4 billion in federal stimulus money, which is being used to fund many programs previously fed by the general fund, the total outlay comes to something like $20.4 billion ó compared to total spending of $20.3 billion in the budget that expired June 30.
Legislators may have cobbled together a reasonable balance between making cuts and raising revenue, and they’ve spread the pain widely on both counts. But this is still a sprawling pachyderm of a spending bill, and nobody’s idea of a pretty baby.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday