The process used to reach this compromise budget was historic. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans–and Governor Cooper–worked on the conference report together over many weeks. As is true of compromise, everyone involved in its creation and passage agreed that no one got everything they wanted.
- Teacher and state employee salaries increased by 5% over two years
- Pay for non-certified school personnel increased to $15/hour
- Child income tax deduction increased to $500 per child
- Personal income tax lowered to 3.99% over six years
- State income tax on military pensions eliminated, beginning 2021 tax year
- Over $6 B invested in infrastructure, including $800 M in school construction
- Investment of over $1B in broadband expansion
- Medicaid coverage for new mothers extended for 12 months after delivery
Even with these and other positives, this was not an easy vote. There are short and long-term problems with the budget. It excludes Wake (and 4 other counties) from a new $100 M fund for teacher pay supplements, funds millions in pork projects, and does not expand health insurance coverage for 600,000 working adults–30,000 of whom are veterans.
It limits the Governor’s emergency authority and prohibits the Attorney General from settling lawsuits. The constitutionality of these two provisions will no doubt be challenged in the courts.
The most troubling part of the budget is a gradual phase-out of the corporate income tax beginning in 2025 that could short-change future investments in public education and other priorities by the end of the decade.
It’s important to note that these corporate tax cuts won’t begin to go into effect for another four years, giving future legislatures an opportunity to ‘course correct’ if our economy weakens.
Around the District
This fall I’ve enjoyed getting to know new Apex Town Manager Catherine Crosby and new Apex Police Chief Jason Armstrong over coffee at Common Grounds on Salem Street. They each have a wealth of relevant experience and exude passion for their work.
I’ve also had the chance to work alongside local elected officials and Habitat for Humanity volunteers to frame a new home in Cary; participate in the annual Kiran Walk to support Asian Indian women who suffer from domestic violence; attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a new building at the SV Temple; and travel to Memphis to receive a 2021 Elected Women of Excellence Award from the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
Looking ahead to December, I’ll be riding with Rep. Julie von Haefen in the Apex Christmas parade.
I wish you and your family good health and time for reflection on the many blessings we all share. Thank you for your support of our community and for your communications with me.
Yours in service,