Loading...
BYH, I just moved to Greenville with my lovely wife and two precious children and a dog. I was so happy when the...

Lawmakers must change course

Alexandra Sirota

Alexandra Sirota

Loading…

Thursday, October 11, 2018

While we await the estimates of the full economic impact of Hurricane Florence — a number likely to total in the billions and to exceed Hurricane Matthew just two years ago — it is clear that the storm's effects are causing great harm to families and communities.

The loss of homes, businesses, and farms, the displacement from communities, and the destruction of schools, roads, and infrastructure have been immense. What's more, each event sets off a chain reaction of choices that families and policymakers will have to confront.

Given the scope of the disaster, it is essential that our leaders choose this time to build toward an equitable recovery focused on achieving greater resiliency. This means making sure that each person directly impacted has the resources to rebuild their lives — no matter who they are or where they come from. It means that systems need to change to support community resiliency and the ability to weather future storms.

Policy choices in Raleigh in the coming days and weeks will matter a great deal. Although the hurricane itself was an event of nature, its severity and many of its worst impacts were anything but. Indeed, policy choices have assured that these events will continue to diminish the quality of life of North Carolinians: the choice to push people who can't afford housing to low-lying areas because of the color of their skin; the choice to reject the scientific realities of climate change or to plan development accordingly so as to protect our water supplies and steward our rivers; the choice not to adequately fund the systems — schools, social services — that connect the next generation to opportunity and those most in need to the basics.

North Carolina can't afford to continue to ignore the need for a recovery that is adequately and equitably funded and that is oriented toward long-term resiliency.

The good news is that North Carolina has the resources to achieve such a vision. State policymakers have, for years, been forgoing investments in schools, public health, and environmental protection to sock money away in the state's Rainy Day Fund. That fund now has a balance of $2 billion. State legislators also chose not to appropriate $500 million in revenue they took in last year.

These dollars should be accessed immediately. At the same time, legislators should consider removing their self-imposed super-majority voting requirements for accessing the Rainy Day Fund. This would assure that, in times of need, funding can be made available quickly without the backroom deals and vote swapping that inevitably result from such limits to accessing the people's money.

An even more important move by legislators would be to postpone or cancel the scheduled tax cuts for big companies and individuals. These tax cuts, set to go into effect in January 2019, will continue to lower the tax rates on income and profits of the rich and profitable corporations and reinforce the tax changes implemented since 2013. Stopping these tax cuts would provide approximately $900 million for addressing emerging needs in the next fiscal year.

In the end, if we want to achieve resiliency, we must make sure our tax code can fund that effort in the long-term. Right now, it cannot. Tax cuts since 2013 that have primarily benefited the rich and big companies have meant we aren't investing in healthy learning environments for our children, ensuring access to affordable housing, or providing the oversight and monitoring of our water and sewer systems or the polluters who burden them. It means, over time, that we won't have the dollars to sustain our current commitments, let alone rebuild in a smarter way.

Voters can do their part too by rejecting a proposed income tax cap to the state constitution that appears on this fall's general election ballot. That change would further limit the tools available to future policymakers and all but assure that the damage inflicted by our leaders' recent policy choices will continue to haunt us.

Funding a resilient recovery from Hurricane Florence is within reach. State leaders — and particularly the General Assembly — just have to choose to do it.

Alexandra Sirota is the director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center. 

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

October 15, 2018 - 43 minutes ago

The Toronto Star

Earth is rapidly headed for a place of no return, where climate change will leave the planet a more hostile place for people, plants and animals.

The impacts and costs are greater and coming faster than expected, according to a comprehensive new assessment by the Intergovernmental…

October 15, 2018 - 43 minutes ago

North Carolina’s 2018 election cycle may be considered a “blue moon” — but Democrats aren’t just standing around without a dream in their hearts. They dream of a sweeping victory this year, and are working hard to try to accomplish it.

Every 12 years, North Carolinians…

john hood.jpg

October 14, 2018

Donald Trump may be remembered as the most honest president in modern American history.

Don't get me wrong, Trump lies all the time. He said that he "enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history" (actually they are the eighth largest) and that "our economy is the strongest it's ever…

MarcThiessen

October 14, 2018

People far more conversant in the Ye-niverse of Kanye West than me have tried to explain the rapper's affection for President Donald Trump, a man who was elected to the highest office in the land with just eight percent of the African American vote. Some have suggested that the odd couple share a…

Tim Carman

October 13, 2018

Winston-Salem Journal 

Last week ended on a high note as we received the news that the Rev. William Barber, a son of North Carolina, was one of the 25 recipients of this year’s prestigious MacArthur fellowship grants, an annual award given to artists, scientists and others who, as the…

October 13, 2018

State lawmakers grouped six constitutional amendments on the November ballot in a way that limits efforts to distinguish each amendment from the others.

A recent complaint from former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory highlights one potential problem that results for amendment supporters.

Each amendment…

Mitch Kokai

October 13, 2018

About this time each year we looked forward to receiving the Sears Wish Book. This wonderful catalogue was about three inches thick, packed with thousands of items. It was the official kickoff to Christmas, and long before Thanksgiving its pages were dogeared, ripped and marked with all the toys…

Tom Campbell.jpg

October 12, 2018

The Fayetteville Observer

It’s hard to imagine how the political noise could get louder, how left and right could be more at odds. But we might have said that two years ago too, and now we know the answer: Yes, it could get worse.

But we also detect a rising voice out there in our communities,…

October 12, 2018

Here is how to interpret the alarming new United Nations-sponsored report on global warming: We are living in a horror movie. The world needs statesmen to lead the way to safety. Instead we have President Trump, who essentially says, "Hey, let's all head to the dark, creepy basement where the chain…

Eugene Robinson

October 11, 2018

President Trump apologized to Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his family for the "terrible pain and suffering" they endured during his confirmation process, declaring that "what happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process." Democrats seem to be taking the…

MarcThiessen
289 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 29
        Next Page»   Last Page»