It’s a troubling time for many American families, with inflation cutting deep into their ability to buy basic household necessities, violence appearing to be on the rise and too many schools — traditionally a solid source of support — seemingly faltering or even working against them.
Amidst the concerns for our country, though, I have seen a lot to be hopeful about in North Carolina as House leaders rolled out our proposed state budget which would direct the use of their taxpayer dollars for the next two years.
For North Carolinians who are worried about the future, I wanted to share how this budget would address many of the issues they care about today and set our state up for a brighter tomorrow. This proposed budget:
- Provides $40 million in grants to help fund school safety, School Resource Officers and other programs.
- Increases teacher pay by 10.2%, with an additional 1% average raise for teachers in rural, underserved areas, for an average teacher salary of $62,650.
- Restores master’s degree pay for teachers.
- Provides a 9.5 % raise for school bus drivers.
- Improves school employee benefits by funding 4-8 weeks of paid parental leave.
- Increases state employee pay by 7.5%.
- Provides $60 million to fund teacher assistants and STEM education.
- Expands Opportunity Scholarship eligibility to grades K-8.
- Increases pay for state highway patrol officers by 11% and for correctional officers by 8.5%.
- Provides $20 million in additional funding for local law enforcement grants and $8.7 million for operations at juvenile justice facilities.
- Invests more than $200 million in workforce development programs.
- Waives all state registration fees for courses that lead to a workforce credential and increases financial aid for students seeking an associate degree.
- Allocates $3.4 billion for capital spending, including $300 million for community colleges, more than $550 million for new and existing UNC system projects and $167 million for debt elimination.
- Appropriates more than $900 million from lottery proceeds for school construction spending.
- Allocates $2 billion for local water and sewer projects.
As a result of years of disciplined, conservative fiscal policy in the state legislature, North Carolina can implement this budget without any income tax increase. In fact, this budget would accelerate already planned personal income tax rate reductions and increase the child tax credit for North Carolina taxpayers. It also would create a refundable adoption tax credit of $2,000 per child. In addition, it would maintain a rainy-day reserve fund balance of $4.75 billion to safeguard state finances in the event of an economic downturn or major natural disaster.
Now that it has been approved by the House, I hope you’ll join me in urging the state Senate to pass this principled spending plan. This budget would take concrete, common-sense steps toward addressing the biggest concerns our citizens have today: schools, safety and economic stability.
We can’t solve Washington’s problems from Raleigh, but we can — and will — do everything possible to insulate North Carolina families against them.
Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) serves as senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.