The $20.3 billion bet

The $20.3 billion bet

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House budget boosts education, but goes too far on debt

No question about it: North Carolina is still a rapidly growing state with rapidly growing needs for essential services including education and health care. Even so, it’s hard to understand why House Democrats insist on retaining so-called "temporary" taxes enacted six years ago to meet a fiscal crisis and propose significant borrowing without requiring public approval.

Yes, the House budget approved early Friday targets many of the right things. It provides a 5 percent pay hike for the state’s teachers, a wise investment in retaining good educators. It commits a remarkable $11 billion to education.

And the budget helps counties pay their share of Medicaid. Counties want the state to take over all their share of the non-federal costs of the program, but working out a way to do that is likely to take longer than the 2007 session. To help in the short run, the House budget would give counties $100 million to defray their Medicaid costs. That’s not a solution, but it will help counties where Medicaid represents a large and growing portion of the budget. (more…)

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.