by Billy Ball
On Wednesday, state budget officials announced a surprising $400 million projected surplus in the current budget year, thanks to a reduction in tax returns. Proving that projections are just projections, the state was expecting a $270 million deficit just weeks ago.
Republicans say it's proof that their fiscal policy is working. "Prudent, responsible budgeting has allowed us to invest in critical State services, and we will continue to practice conservative governance," said N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, on Wednesday. "It is under these policies that North Carolina has begun to flourish."
Predictably, Democrats and the left see it differently. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, told the News & Observer today that the extra cash came "directly out of the pockets of middle class families."
His argument is based on GOP policies repealing tax breaks for seniors, low-wage workers and small businesses, all of which Gerrick Brenner of left-leaning Progress North Carolina cited in disparaging the "so-called" state budget surplus Wednesday.
“Revenue may be up, but working families are paying more in state taxes while their wages remain stagnant," said Brenner. "Median income in North Carolina has fallen from 38th in the nation when the GOP took control of the legislature to now 47th, below even South Carolina. If this GOP tax shift is working for anyone, it’s big corporations and people at the top."
Republican leadership is expected to decide what to do with the cash during budget negotiations in the coming weeks. Fittingly, it's Teacher Appreciation Week.