Whether we’re Black, white, or brown, we all know what it’s like to see a loved one struggle and to want to do all we can to help.

This pandemic taught many of us what it means to be just one layoff or illness or foreclosure away from fearing for our family’s future. But can you imagine what our communities would look like if we had all that we need – where everyone contributes to make our schools, hospitals, parks, and programs all that our families deserve?

For too many years, NC lawmakers have proposed budgets where they rig the tax code to take the wealth our work creates and enrich corporations and the already rich who refuse to pay what they owe.

The House and Senate budget proposals this year are no different.

Both legislative proposals would reduce the tax rate on corporate profits (in the Senate case eliminating the tax entirely on profitable corporations) and lower the personal income tax rate, giving the greatest tax cuts to the richest North Carolinians. 

When profitable large corporations and the richest North Carolinians don’t contribute what they owe, the state doesn’t have the dollars to fund the public services that expand opportunity and make the hardship facing families across the state less devastating to them, their children, and their communities.

With negotiations beginning this week between the Governor and House and Senate leaders to determine the details of what the final budget will include, North Carolina needs a different approach.

North Carolina currently has billions of dollars sitting in a bank account because of better-than-expected revenue collections and years of not fully funding the needs in communities. This is an unprecedented opportunity that means we can afford to make sure that this pandemic’s harm is not prolonged by actually spending these dollars where they are needed. These dollars need to be put back into communities today by making sure people have a roof over their head, food in their bellies, and safe schools to attend and healthy workplaces to earn. In doing so, our state could disrupt the current widespread despair facing families and the potential for lasting damage to children’s healthy development and family’s long-term financial security.

We can make the systems that we relied on in this pandemic better so that they are stronger now and for the future. It was our public schools that had to adapt to deliver an education remotely as well as provide the food and services that families needed in this crisis. Fully funding public schools – the classrooms, teachers and support staff that keep children healthy – is essential to supporting children’s educational success. Making child care affordable to every family and accessible in every county is essential to getting people back to work today. Funding the development of more affordable housing in rural and urban communities is essential to making sure people have a home to stay safe in. Funding meal delivery and home health care for our families is essential to keeping communities healthy.

Making these systems we rely on better long-term won’t be possible without everyone – including corporations and the richest North Carolinians – paying what they owe. Instead of budgets that give money back to the richest, our lawmakers need to rewrite the rules so anyone who falls on hard times can count on the services and supports we need to see ourselves through.

Our legislators need to take the time to listen to what people need in this moment. The budget process to date is largely focused in Raleigh, but communities across the state and the people living there should have a chance to weigh in. When there isn’t an opportunity for public input, at the very least elected leaders should be allowed to represent their constituents in the development of a budget. This year, the budget was developed among a select few in leadership and shared with the full members of the House and Senate with only one week of review and limited debate before a final vote.

Those select few politicians demonize those of us struggling to make ends meet, trying to get us to blame each other for the hardships their corporate donors create. The pandemic isn’t over, nor is it likely to be for some time, and the ability to re-open businesses and re-start full participation in our communities depends on lawmakers delivering what people need. The well-being of our state and of our economy depends on the well-being of our people. The ability to get beyond the downturn and to greater resiliency depends on our collective commitment to do so and our concern and care for each and every person.

Our budget each year presents an opportunity to show our priorities.  And our priority should be a world where, whatever the color of your skin or the contents of your wallet, you could know that your family will be ok. Where no matter what hardship you face, you know your kids will have food on the table and a roof overhead.

It’s time to demand our leaders create a budget for North Carolina that funds the services and supports people require, so that all of our families, in good times and bad, can thrive.

Alexandra Forter Sirota is director of the Budget & Tax Center.

(20) comments

David Collins

Note : The author is a social justice warrior berthed from The NC Justice Center followed by NC Policy Watch .

Same old song , just a different verse . Take from the successful and give to the slackers that have little or no “ skin in the game “ .

drewski

Affordable housing, affordable daycare, food delivered to shut in's and the needy. Safe schools, community support. A budget that reflects the needs of the citizens. What kind of commie talk is that? When we give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, that money will trickle down and fulfill the needs of the poor and struggling. The wealthy lawmakers who make the rules that protect themselves and their donors know best. They always have, and they always will.

David Collins

Don’t ever forget the golden rule , Drew . A worldwide favorite back then and now as well .

David Collins

By the way ,you are being silly again . Lower taxes mean more money in the old paycheck to be spent on stuff . You know , the money you withhold from the exploited worker bees .

drewski

We can definitely agree the worker bees are exploited. Lets tax capitol gains as wages are taxed, lets not exempt the first 40k of cap gains from any and all taxes, lets set senate and congressional salaries to the median national income. lets cut that housing allowance and staff allowance. I pay roughly 24% of my income in social security fit /fica and state tax, then another 6 to 8 % in sales tax when i spend that money. I am and old guy, work a labor job and pay my fair share of taxes without too much complaint. Meanwhile amazon that just surpassed walmart in sales pays zero in taxes and bezos is flying in a rocket . Look at the oil company quarterly profits, and remember what happened every time there was a suggestion of a windfall profits tax? lobbists thew money, and our elected officials said," Oh they need that money for exploration and infrastructure" So something is clearly wrong.

David Collins

Bezos like Musk and the rest do not get paychecks . They have stock options which they borrow against . Borrowed money is not taxed . Just the way it is .

The various companies they own pay taxes on everything they buy to operate their businesses . Everything they buy has multiple layers of taxation throughout the manufacturing process . Where do you think the record tax collection numbers are coming from ? Yup , it is complicated , convoluted and keeps armies of number wonks employed .

Now the various toys enjoyed by the uber wealthy . Planes , boats and now rocket ships are rather pricey to buy , own , maintain and replace . Oceans of tax money floating about there . Just the price of living on your own terms .

Yes , they do pay taxes , plenty of taxes and unless you peek under the covers a bit you’ll never know . They get compensated quite well for being scapegoated . Really think they care ?

If you are really interested ask a successful financial advisor who has been around the block a number of times . Someone of at least 60 years of age . Failing that , ask a multimillionaire . A glass or two of Blanton will get the conversation moving along nicely .

drewski

Stocks increase or decrease in value, either a taxable asset or a dedutible loss, explaining how a con works does not make it not a con. When the left talks about inequality the right counters with shrieks of socialism, or declare they want to take from the productive and give to the slackers ( your words I beleive)

Billionaires or trust fund babies who never contributed a penny to social security can and do collect at 62. Despite that pittance barely putting jet fuel in their plane.

Taxing capital gains as wages are taxed would go along way towards basic fairness.

David Collins

Actually , if you do not contribute to Social Security you get none of it . At least that was the case when I was working but it could have been changed recently , like so many other perks . I contributed to my own retirement fund but also had the option of contributing to S S as well . I did that . Guess what , upon retirement I received a 50% haircut on my S S benefits due to having a retirement annuity . The reasoning was , no double dipping allowed .

Trust me , folks like Bezos could care less for SS .

Just because the market value of stocks you own falls does not entitle you to any tax breaks . What it does do is require you to pledge more stock , for collateral , to cover the loan . Those guys have gracious plenty of stock to pledge Indeed .

A totally different lifestyle that few can imagine .

No , not a con at all . Totally blessed by those in Congress that are looking out for you . Hey , we put them there so the blame is on us as well . Still , would not have any other way and the US is still the best place to be . For now .

JusticeForAll

If you look at those on the top tier, globally, they have manipulated the system by protecting themselves from any liability towards their wealth. Feeding the worker bees the remnants of such pillaging, keeps everyone in a perpetual loop.

David Collins

This wealth envy thing is cyclical and rather old . Sure , you have some bad actors , just like you have at every level of wealth . Just because someone has a few dollars to rub together does not mean they lied , stole or cheated to get there . The various tax laws have been in need of sorting and modification for oh so many years . Congress is not keen to change much of anything so it is what it is . Same goes for other countries as well . France enacted a wealth tax scheme but soon discovered it cost way more to collect than they could ever recover . You see , wealth is not static . It varies wildly and is based on appraisals which are just opinions . The true number is revealed when something sells . Just like housing .

Yup , wealth can be structured in many ways to protect individuals . An all time favorite is the family trust where no one owns anything but has access to everything . All chattel is in the trust .

Is change coming , doubt it , Congress is made up of too many multi millionaires . You pretty much know who they are .

JusticeForAll

It is not an envy thing, it is a survival thing. There are limited resources on this planet. Plain and simple. Money will not help.

David Collins

Well then , could then be way too many people chasing those limited resources . That could open an interesting discussion .

JusticeForAll

Not that interesting...overpopulation and limited resources. The outcome is always the same.

David Collins

Oh , OK !

drewski

Dystopian future?? Look at a population graph with projections. Look at water tables in the grain belt, Look at what's happening with water allocation in CA even as we speak. I suspect mother nature is getting quite tired of us. I suspect we will see cat 6 hurricanes in near future.

Smart folks prepare, starting with independent water supply.

David Collins

A lot of the water problems out there are self induced . Turn the deserts into greenery and build cities for all to see and enjoy was the sirens call years ago . Remember it well and even Nat. Geographic ran stories on doing just this . Of course they had to build a few dams for capacity and electricity , divert the flow of a few rivers and drill baby drill for water . Well , now the aquifer is running dry because there are no water sources to replenish it due to folks borrowing from the replenishment source . Just stealing from Peter to pay Paul and now Paul needs to much and Peter is running out of money . Feast and famine , the age old story . Strange really , because the earth is full of water just not potable or in all the needed locations . We knew this but forged ahead anyway . This is just what humans do .

Anyway , massive desalination plants are needed but they require massive amounts of electricity to operate 24/7 , 365 . Where is this going to come from ? The permitting process , especially on the left coast , is a long drawn out process and requires endless studies and permission from every petty official and his or her mother . Folks will be dead and gone before that happens .

If by independent water supply you mean wells , the same thing can happen here . Then there is how to get water from the well to the house if the power goes out . Generators work for a while until they fun out of fuel and it goes on and on . Life is tough .

drewski

Life is toughest for those who don't prepare. Distillation gets rid of salt, biohazards and chemicals who's boiling points are not close to 212. You might remember navy lifeboats had floating solar stills back in the day, for when the slap cans ran out.

Knowledge,planning,and basic equipment and supplies will go along way between destitute begging for bottled water &mre in a mile long line, or sphegetti and garlic bread with a nice merlot at home., Water is always the first priority for survival, if you are dependant on " city water" what happens when that tap runs dry? ( usually 3-4 days into a disaster)

JusticeForAll

The problem being for those who prepare are those who don't. They just take it from them. Prolonging your existence, for a very short time, is maybe what you can hope for. Tribes in Africa, who whose survival depends on creative ways to get water, will be our greatest chance for humans to continue as a species. But that is where it all began anyway, so seems fitting.

David Collins

Slap cans , so long ago . Just what was in those things that made them cool when shaken ? Certainly today it would be banned and the TV Lawyers would use it as a lure to harvest customers . The Sea Rats were pretty good considering how long they hung around but the smokes were rather stale . Ah , those days of youthful ignorance .

drewski

The mini packs of Winston's with 4 in a pack. Govt green match pack, and canned brown bread from the Korean war.. those were the daze.

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