To the Editor:
The fact that Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, refers to the radical budget being proposed down in Raleigh as the state “living within its means” is a joke. The farce of this proposal is the false notion that businesses are being wildly burdened and that our private sector suffers.
Unmentioned is North Carolina remaining as the “No. 2 Best State for Business” awarded by 500 CEOs in Chief Executive Magazine. How is our great state outdoing the vast majority of other states, if the government is “on the back” of job-creating businesses? Thanks to North Carolina’s educated workforce, this state has shifted from manufacturing to more knowledge-based jobs such as banks, high-tech endeavors and pharmaceuticals.
The same educated workforce is being dismantled by this proposed budget. Davis touts “we’re fostering early childhood education by adding more than 1,000 teachers to classrooms in grades 1-3.” This stems from the common sense concept that reducing the workload on the professionals hired to educate our children works.
If adding teacher assistants to grades 1-3 improves the results they produce, why doesn’t the same rule apply for teachers in grades 4-12? Moreover, why doesn’t the same rule apply to mental health workers, prison guards, and all other state employees? While flaunting an addition of 1,000 teachers, Davis neglects mentioning the elimination of 13,000 teaching assistant positions in those exact grades. In total, the Senate budget would eliminate 19,744 jobs.
Davis says “we’re eliminating vacant positions, consolidating departments, and reducing administrative costs and bureaucracy.” Just like the late television direct-response advertisement salesperson Billy Mays would say “… and that’s not all!” What else does this proposed travesty do? Substantially reduces funding from Smart Start, rape crisis programs, veterans affairs, domestic violence programs, and eliminates the Teaching Fellows program to name just a few.
Davis claims “the budget slashes taxes and returns more than $1 billion to the private sector, where it will help businesses create thousands of new jobs.” He fails to mention that those are corporate income taxes (sorry everyday citizens) and the 1-cent sales tax about to go before the legislation for reinstatement. Their proposal is to decrease taxes for large corporations and slash the heavy burden of a penny; while the folks on Main Street suffer. Though the penny tax, if kept, could add up to an estimated $2.26 billion of revenue to state resources over the next two years.
To conclude, the Senate Republicans believe nothing creates jobs like passing ideologically-driven symbolic measures such as defining marriage, getting pro-life commemorative license plates, and naming a “state-mineral” all the while appeasing their corporate financiers. They are all quoting from the same flawed study that never asked what would happen to the state’s economy if 19,744 positions are eliminated and thousands of state workers are in unemployment lines. While the opportunities for the working and middle class are diminished continuously, the radical Raleigh Republicans can rejoice in not paying a penny.
Justin Karr Conley
Macon County native