On Wednesday morning, the state Senate concluded a long but productive session that provided North Carolina families and small businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in tax relief, reformed the state’s chronically troubled Medicaid program and strengthened public education, transportation and public safety.
“Senate Republicans fulfilled our number one goal this session: we maintained the spending discipline and commitment to tax cuts and reform that led to a $400 million budget surplus this year,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “I am proud of my colleagues for defending taxpayers against special interests that wanted to spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars to grow government beyond its means.”
Among other actions, Senate Republicans:
- Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that invests in core services, strengthens public education, shores up savings reserves and grows North Carolina’s economy. The Senate cut hundreds of millions of dollars from earlier spending proposals.
- Implemented additional tax cuts and reforms that reduced the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by close to $400 million over the next two years.
- Improved the state’s climate for job growth by lowering corporate income tax rates, moving to calculate corporate income tax on the basis of a single sales factor and expanding tools to recruit new businesses, including large companies like automobile and aerospace manufacturers.
- Increased funding for public education by more than $530 million in the next year alone and continued major education reforms to reduce class sizes and ensure students receive the tools they need to succeed.
- Kept their promise to raise early-career teacher pay from $33,000 to $35,000 per year and provided experienced-based step increases to teachers, assistant principals, principals, State Highway Patrol troopers, clerks and magistrates.
- Provided North Carolina teachers a much-needed tax deduction for purchasing classroom supplies.
- Reformed the state’s chronically troubled Medicaid program to save tax dollars, achieve greater budget sustainability and incentivize delivering high-quality care to keep North Carolinians healthy.
- Invested an additional $705 million for transportation, made possible in part by ending a $216 million transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund – ensuring that money is finally spent on building and maintaining safe roads and bridges. The additional investment will allow the state to build at least 70 new highway projects, replace hundreds of structurally deficient bridges and resurface thousands of miles of roads.
- Cut and froze the gas tax to provide much-needed funding stability to ensure the state can continue to build and maintain safe roads, bridges and economic corridors.
- Put a $2 billion bond package to support critical infrastructure needs on the ballot so voters can decide whether to invest more in the state’s public universities, community colleges, National Guard installations and local water and sewer systems.
- Supported education and economic development in counties with insufficient local sales tax revenue by providing new local tax dollars for public schools, community colleges and recruiting new jobs and businesses.
- Passed sweeping changes to the state’s burdensome regulatory environment that cut red tape that chokes off economic growth.
- Protected the first amendment rights and jobs of magistrates and registers of deeds’ employees whose participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies violates their core religious beliefs while ensuring everyone who is legally eligible to get married will have that opportunity.
- Took steps to reduce electricity rates and spur job growth and economic development across North Carolina.
- Prohibited ‘sanctuary cities’ in North Carolina to ensure localities enforce federal laws against illegal immigration.
- Protected the dignity of unborn children who lose their lives in an abortion by banning the sale of babies’ body parts.
- Enacted significant reforms to the state’s unemployment system expected to save businesses and workers more than $240 million next year and ensure those who collect benefits actively seek employment.
- Passed and sent the House legislation to prevent the unfair and illegal misclassification of some employees as independent contractors.
- Ensured able-bodied, childless adults who receive food stamps meet federal work requirements.
- Expanded insurance coverage and access to treatment for autistic children with a bill supported by North Carolina medical providers, parents, advocates and insurers.
- Empowered disabled children and their families to save money to meet the costs of their disabilities by passing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.
- Took action to prevent skin cancer among some of the state’s youngest citizens by prohibiting children under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds.