Despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina’s tax revenues have remained surprisingly robust, which is giving Governor Cooper an excuse to spend unbudgeted funds rather than to conserve them for future needs. The state can ill afford the governor’s spendthrift approach to fiscal management and should be very wary about his agenda.

State economists are projecting North Carolina’s revenues for the budget year ending June 30 will exceed projections by over $4.1 billion and Governor Roy Cooper is ready to spend the surplus to fund an emergency budget supplement he is proposing. But this effort is lacking in a sense of real concern for both the current situation and the future risks.

Earlier this month Governor Cooper outlined a plan allocating COVID-19 federal relief funds along with state revenues to “help North Carolina communities build back as the state turns the corner on the pandemic.” The governor’s Emergency Budget Supplement amounts to $4.9 billion in federal funds and $695 million in state funds with a total investment of just under $5.6 billion

Among the governor’s proposals are $468 million for bonuses to go to educators and school personnel; and $37 million to support small businesses devastated by the governor’s executive orders curtailing or closing their operations.

While it is comforting to see the governor finally show some concern about the impacts his executive orders have had on almost every aspect of life in the state - economic, educational and health - it is very late in the game. Over the past 12 months Governor Cooper has not expressed any concern about the state’s small businesses that have had to curtail or completely shut down in response to his draconian executive orders. Nor has he been aggressive in responding to the educational chaos his last-minute and often confused announcements have created. And of course there is the fact that he vetoed the legislature’s efforts to provide pay raises for teachers and school personnel during last summer’s legislative short session.

Now that the state finances are better than expected, the governor is ready to spread his concern. “We must bring real help to our schools, to small businesses and to people who have lost income and lack health care to ensure our state and entire economy emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever,” Cooper said in a recent news release.

Yes, we do need to address the massive economic, educational and health impacts but Governor Cooper also needs to be concerned with the economic future beyond today’s circumstances. And to do this he should first work with the N.C. Legislature to prioritize expenditures while also setting budget contingencies as the General Assembly plans the next biennial budget.

Any financial decisions related to relief programs need to take into account the possibility that the pandemic, as many scientists and epidemiologists predict, will not be quelled for at least the remainder of this calendar year. There is even concern that the continuing mutations creating new variants of COVID-19 may cause a significant delay in economic recovery worldwide for at least another year.

Despite the overwhelming negative impacts of the pandemic, North Carolina’s financial condition has remained healthy because North Carolina’s General Assembly has been aggressive financially while also being very fiscally conscious, assuring that the state remains financially sound. This fiscal health has resulted in the state being one of only 15 in the nation to receive a triple A bond rating, which means the state’s borrowing power is better than 35 other states. And according to a U.S. News survey, North Carolina is ranked fifth nationally for its long term financial stability.

These rankings and the state’s financial stability are important considerations as the state plans the next biennial budget which, according to state budget offices, should anticipate decreases in revenues for FY 2021-22 and possibly the following year, 2022-23.

With the national debt ballooning to over $27 trillion, which is more than 100% of the country’s total financial output, the time for fiscal caution on the part of the state is now, not when expenses exceed revenues. By then it will require painful financial adjustments that will be more damaging than the current situation.

Considering all of the unexpected shocks our state and nation have experienced since March of last year, and the high probability of many more to come, the Governor should temper his program and seek to work with the legislature to assure not only a healthy state but a healthy economy for the long haul.

(14) comments

DeadBolt

So called 'educators' are not government employee's . Just because they are regulated by alot of rules, it is their choice in career;s. Now, on to this dreaded budget...... Well, i would ask , exactly what is anyone expected to BUILD BACK? Possibly a ruined relationship with a wide voter base? The little version wannabe stalin up there is to blame every bit, and needs to be REMOVED . (and thrown on the dustbin of history) The idiot financially ruined by way of extortion , alot of lives.

drewski

What was it LBJ called the press? Nattering nabobs of negativity? Didn't he also say if he walked across the Potomac river to the pentagon the news would report "president can't swim"

If Roy Cooper walked across the Neuse River we can guess what the CCNT would report, followed by a howl of partially and totally unrelated comments vilifying all things progressive and wishing again for the " good old days"

mpjeep

This Editorial hit the nail on the head. Coop knows he is not running again, so he really doesn't care about NC folks or how he leaves us.

DeadBolt

For that FOOL to even think for one second that ANYONE IN NC CEDED their rights to him to VIOLATE, well, doubtful. He is the epitome of a true EXTORTIONIST . CLASSIC MASS MISGUIDED FRAUD FOR OVER A YEAR NOW. He should have to walk the Mountain to Coast route , and along the way, WE the taxpayers should be able to smack the ever loving ...RIGHT OUT OF HIS THOUGHT PROCESS. He sure enough earned it. (a huge can of whop-@ss) Most IGNORANT PUBLIC SERVANT IN STATE HISTORY.

(Edited by staff.)

mpjeep

Man, dead, you took the words right out of my mouth. Well stated!

JusticeForAll

How is this not against policy? "...WE the taxpayers should be able to smack the ever loving ...RIGHT OUT OF HIS THOUGHT PROCESS. He sure enough earned it. (a huge can of whop-@ss) Most IGNORANT PUBLIC SERVANT IN STATE HISTORY.

Guess the same way Trump is not responsible for the insurrection?

DeadBolt

Stating my thoughts is not a crime there bud. (and apparently, i'm not the only one thinking along those lines) The man is a FRAUDSTER / HUCKSTER THIEF ! Its that simple. What do you think happens to thieves? In real life ? He used the power of the State, to collude with LARGER forces against the very public who granted him a small , limited time as the State Public Servant.

mpjeep

He wasn't expressing an opinion of you, me, or others that post comments....just about the writer. Was no insurrection on Jan 6th.

klacy

Insurrection : If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States... They were trying to prevent the constitutional requirement to count the electoral votes.

drewski

You are confusing "crime" with "policy" having said that, such comments as the gov should face the "gauntlet" o r" there was no insurrection" are likely designed to garner attention and further comment. At some point its simplest to just ignore it, without the obviously needed attention they will move on to the latest outrage de jour, or possibly find an actual hobby?

JusticeForAll

Those are threats, not thoughts. Your opinion is optional. And, if you want to bash a liar/fraudster, then start in your own backyard. Cooper is pale in comparison to Trump.

To keep saying there was no insurrection is to wake up in Disney World, everyday, which is were all the Trump lawyers where going to celebrate, right? They could not have picked a better place...full of the fairy tales they aspire to.

DeadBolt

I think you have an extreme case of TDS. (nowhere in the comment was i drawing a comparison to anyone at all) Pooper is a blatant TOSS POT. He has abused his press power, and colluded with larger forces to destroy the State for over 1 year, and continues down this scamdemic road.

noitall

Criminal. $5.6 billion total take and only $468 million for bonuses to educators and school personnel; and $37 million to support small businesses devastated by the governor’s executive orders curtailing or closing their operations. Time for a goodbye club to form for Roy and his legions..All this because of a questionable crisis? The restaurant owners in Compton Ca have ignored orders, united, and opened for business as usual. And that is what it takes - a united action. Will they get the Trump treatment as well? Probably not because the recall petition has garnered enough signatures. to recall Gov Newson. Should do the same thing here. The RINOS have to get off the bench and into the game.

DeadBolt

Well , IMO, they were in on it to a certain level as well. (and, i honestly do not want to worry about why at this point, just know this was a COORDINATED EFFORT, to DESTROY AMERICA). Party matters little now, because, citizens are different then these moderates in political positions who think they are safe, truth of the matter is the forces of this half baked attempt are going after them , if they already have not had it happen yet. (for the local wizzards who think they rode it out)

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