In recent education discussions, some have helped illustrate a fundamental difference between conservative governance and tax-and-spend liberals. A comment recently made that the state of North Carolina should immediately implement a 10 percent raise for educators is just like Bernie Sanders saying no one needs to pay for college. Neither is practicable.
It is easy to forget that just six short years ago, Democrats were in leadership in Raleigh and the state’s finances were a mess. When the Republican majority took control of the General Assembly in 2011, North Carolina had a $2.5 billion budget deficit and teachers had been furloughed. Additionally, the state owed $2.75 billion in unemployment insurance debt to the federal government. North Carolina’s jobless rate was over 10 percent. North Carolina had some of the highest tax rates in the Southeast and restrictive regulations that inhibited job growth.
The Democrats ran our state into the ditch. Today, North Carolina is back on solid financial footing. Our budget deficit has turned into a surplus. Just last year, the state paid off all of the unemployment insurance debt to the federal government. The jobless rate is now around 5 percent.
We’ve simplified, flattened and reduced tax rates so North Carolinians can keep more money in their pockets. We’ve taken steps to allow voters to decide to reinvest in our state’s infrastructure with the Connect NC Bond package that will be on the ballot this spring.
North Carolina is on a sustained and responsible comeback because of carefully considered budget and tax policies.
I believe we must pay our teachers more than we do. I also believe this needs to be done in a responsible way – one that keeps our state on solid financial footing. Assuming revenue projections hold true, I have every intention of advocating a meaningful raise for our teachers this year – just as the House budget included last year.
The House will continue to be the strong advocate for preserving teaching assistants and awarding raises for all state employees.
Our Republican majority’s conservative principles have led North Carolina to an impressive comeback in a very short period of time. We must keep on track with responsible budgeting and honest dialogue about achievable outcomes.
Elected officials should never play politics with people’s paychecks.
STATE HOUSE SPEAKER TIM MOORE
The writer, a Republican, represents N.C. District 111. The length limit was waived.