Gary is taking a break from blogging. In his absence, he asked Thomas Mills to fill in. Thomas blogs at www.politicsnc.com where this article is cross-posted.
Republicans in Raleigh have a problem with their storyline. They keep insisting that North Carolina is on a “Carolina comeback” but nobody’s feeling the benefits–except the rich. They cite falling unemployment numbers but those are just statistics and don’t reflect the reality of people’s lives.
Instead, people are seeing the hit to services. In schools across the state, parents are being asked to give more to make up for the cuts that the General Assembly passed. And even as they give more money to their children’s classrooms, they are watching programs get cut. In Chapel Hill-Carrboro, entire programs for gifted children are on the chopping block.
Parents aren’t feeling better about their pockets books. They are feeling insecure about their children’s education. In essence, they General Assembly has passed along a hidden tax since families are subsidizing classrooms to a greater extent.
And contrary to their storyline, the North Carolina economy is not outperforming the nation as whole by any great extent. Our job growth is steady but mediocre at less than 2% and the drop in unemployment rate is due partially to people leaving the workforce.
We also hear about the wonders of tax reform and are told we have more money in our pockets, but most aren’t feeling it. If we are, in fact, paying less taxes, the amount is not noticeable and is certainly not enough set people off on spending sprees. Instead, we’re bracing for more cuts due to a revenue shortfall.
Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature told us they were going to fix government and get our financial house in order. North Carolina would be an economic powerhouse again and sunny skies were ahead. Instead, we have a $445 million hole in our budget, our best teachers are leaving the state and McCrory is talking about more cuts to university system. They can spout statistics ad nauseam but until people are feeling more confident about financial situations and public institutions, their claims will fall on deaf ears.